The St. Petersburg Economic Forum compiled a fake list of Western participants
Perhaps the most remarkable event of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in 2022 was the participation of the Taliban delegation (still officially banned in Russia). Perhaps to slightly change the impression of the event, the organizers of SPIEF 2023 included many well-known Western businessmen and specialists in their program, including the former CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, the CEO of the electric car manufacturer Lucid Motors Peter Rawlinson, and the former member of the board of directors of Yandex Ilya Strebulaev.
The problem is that none of them went to St. Petersburg and will not go, writes the Financial Times.
The newspaper got acquainted with the preliminary program of the forum, dated May 16. Schmidt is listed there as one of the purported contributors to the AI discussion, along with British computer scientist Stephen Wolfram, American AI specialist Eliezer Yudkowsky, and Stanford University finance professor Strebulaev. Other sessions are scheduled to include Sloane Gibson, former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration, and Lucid’s Rawlinson.
Schmidt has not been invited to SPIEF and does not plan to attend, a person familiar with the situation told the FT. Last September, Schmidt, who headed Google from 2001 to 2011, met Zelensky’s associates in Kiev and specifically discussed technological countermeasures to the Russian invasion.
According to him, Strebulaev knows nothing about his participation in the forum. In March 2022, he resigned from the Yandex board of directors, where he had been an independent director since 2018.
Yudkowsky told the FT that he had received an invitation from SPIEF but had not responded to it. He supports providing aid to Ukraine. Wulfram said through his press secretary that he had been invited but would not attend the forum.
According to Rawlinson’s representative, he knows nothing about the St. Petersburg Forum and does not want to be associated with it. Gibson did not respond to a request for comment.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Roscongress, the organizer of SPIEF, did not respond to the FT’s request for comment.
Some Western businessmen still plan to attend the event, but in such a way that they are not noticed, the newspaper writes: they asked the organizers not to put their names on the badges.
At the same time, there is not a single official higher than a ministerial official in the preliminary program, even from countries “friendly” to Russia.
Despite the fake list of Western participants, the SPIEF organizers take into account some current realities. In the “Business Architecture” Program posted on the website (contains session blocks and discussion topics), the words “sovereignty” or “sovereign development” appear 10 times. In a more detailed pre-programme, the phrase “technological sovereignty” is used 27 times, notes the FT.
At the same time, the names of some sessions in the light of real events look at least strange, if not cynical. For example, “Intellectual property is the basis of technological independence” – and this in a country that actually allowed the theft of intellectual property in the form of parallel imports of goods without the consent of the copyright holder and the secret purchase of high-tech products that Western countries deny. Or the entire block of activities “The priority is to save people and the quality of life” – taking into account the fact that combat losses during the war unleashed by Russia amounted to approx. 200,000 according to Pentagon estimates at the beginning of the year. people, including more than 40,000 dead (and does not yet include all losses near Bakhmut); about a million people may have left the country (and the gradual outflow continues); the scholars are arrested one by one on charges of treason and espionage; and war-induced sanctions and the Kremlin’s bet on economic sovereignty gave rise to what economist Branko Milanovic in Russia called “regressive import substitution.”
But the participants of the session “Mythology of our time: how much does a legend cost?” perhaps they will find out how much money the Russian government spends on propaganda and brainwashing.
And at a session organized by Gazprom Media (whose companies are actively involved in creating myths), a discussion is planned on “cultural sovereignty” and how it will allow us to overcome “the Western culture of cancellation and destructive information attacks on the values of our society.”
The Forum in St. Petersburg, which will take place on June 14-17, “is one of the largest and most significant business events in the world,” says Anton Kobyakov, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation, Executive Secretary of the SPIEF Organizing Committee.