What’s going on?
Football comes to Kaliningrad aka Königsberg. The Russian city, till the collapse of Nazi-Germany in 1945 for centuries the capital of Eastern-Prussia, is one of the venues of the worldchampionship football, the FIFA Worldcup 2018. Kaliningrad will host four matches in the group stage of the tournament. Although it is not yet know which teams will play in Kaliningrad, it’s for sure that tens of thousands supporters from abroad will attend the games of their national teams in the brand new stadium in the swamps near the river Pregel.
In the slipstream of these fans, also journalists will visit Kaliningrad next year. Apart from the game, these journalists also will present to their audience reports on societal topics. Nowadays sport-journalists do more than covering (football)matches alone. So they probably need support.
Pregel Info, an independent non-governmental website for news and analysis in the district of Kaliningrad, is willing to do that. Staff and volunteers of Pregel Info have a lot to offer.
Why Kaliningrad is more important than it seems?
The decision of the Russian organizing committee to grant the city of Kaliningrad the privilege to be one of the 12 venues of the Worldchampionship 2018 is not only based on the the desire to offer the region a spectacular sportieve party, but is partly also driven by geopolitical motives. Although country is disputing the Russian jurisdiction in this former east-Prussian province, by including the Kaliningrad Oblast in the biggest sport-event in the world, Russia could show the whole world that Kaliningrad is an integral and eternal part of the Russian Federation.
In the province itself the Russian jurisdiction is also not seriously disputed. But that doesn’t mean that the society satiesfied about its position inside the federation. A lot of people feel neglected by the federal government in Moscow and complain that they are ruled by other interests than theirs.
The societal developments in Kaliningrad are also for other reasons more dynamic than elsewhere in Russia. To sum up:
- The province, insolated as it is since 2004 by two NATO-countries, is becoming a highly militarized district. The Russian armed forces are the biggest employer of the people in the province. Check percentage percentage local gdp!
- The district has no other big monopolistic industries. Small business is dominant. The middle class in therefor less dependent on the state.
- The inhabitants of Kaliningrad are more orientated on Europe than the average Russians. Almost 60 percent of the citizens has an international passport. In mainland Russia the percentage is only 20 percent.
- The citizens of exclave are, on the other side, more affected by the sanctions of the West and the counter-sancties of Russia than their compratiots in mainland Russia.
- From a social-cultural point of view, Kaliningrad is a Russian melting pot. The are no people who have roots in the province for more than three generations. Therefor their search for a specific identity is a mixture of contemporary Russian and historical German roots.
- The federal government in the meantime is very anxious for what is called ‘germanificaton’ of the district, because a rehabilitation of the German past could undermine historical canon of the Second World War that is promoten by the government in Moscow.
Why the FIFA World Cup is important?
Football is not only sports. Football is also interwoven with commerce and even politics. Especially during a international championship. When the FIFA comes in town, this multinational takes power for a month or more. At the same time the autorities are, in their strive to offer the foreign guests and the global public opinion a positive image of the host-countries, trying to avoid a free flow of information that could be damaging. Impressed by the atmosphere of good sports and hospitality, the foreign guests are quite often not able to balance all the (conflicting) impressions.
What is Pregel Info planning?
During the Worldchampionship 2018, Pregel Info will provide the visitors with reliabel information [Research and Fixers] about all non-sportive developments in the region. For example:
- The governance of the district and its relation to the federal goverment in Moscow.
- The relations with the neighbouring countries Lithuania and Poland.
- The contemporary relevance of the historical heritage of Kaliningrad aka Königsberg.
- The cultural initiative on grass-root level.
- Photography [Sport and Features]
- Interpreters [Russian-English-German]
- Transport [Kaliningrad and region]
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