Moscow: Written in bold fonts, ‘We Speak English’ stickers greet passengers at all the 76 metro stations of Moscow city, the ‘only Russian’ attitude has given way to a more accommodating and pleasing global attitude among Russian cosmopolitans.
Moscow bears a pro-English outlook with the avenues and city facilities making statements in the English language to make the guests and fans of FIFA World Cup comfortable.
At a time when there is a perceivable tension between UK and Russia while the latter prepares to host the FIFA football world cup, what catches the eye is a bit different. Russia is indeed giving a ‘English’ facelist to the venues and cities and the change is perceivable on the ground.
When lakhs of football fans from all over the world will visit the Russia this summer, Russia wants to make them comfortable and one way is to converse with them in a language which they know.
If you use the popular Metro transport in Russia’s capital, what one can hear is the announcement in English. The transport department have started announcements in English in Moscow Metro for the convenience of foreigners. “Traditionally announcements were made only in Russian. But, from the last few months, they have started announcing in English also. In addition to it, they have also put the names of all metro stations in English in all the old lines of Moscow Metro stations,” said Jimmy Kotwani, a Moscow based Indian businessman said.
Not only all the old buildings around Kremlin have been repaired and painted, but all the commercial hoardings in front of business establishments are put down to make the area beautiful. “During beautification and restoration process, it was ensured that the originality of the buildings and structures is maintained, so that the world can see the history of the old Moscow city. And the hoarding have a substantial amount of information in English. This is historic to see for us who have been living in Russia for many decades now,” said Neeraj Shah, a Mumbai based business consultant, and a regular visitor of Moscow.
Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup from 14 June to 15 July this year. Matches will take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saransk, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg and Sochi.
“Over 150 bold lettered “We speak English” stickers have been placed prominently at 76 metro stations ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The stickers are large enough for foreign tourists to see from a distance. This is first time, we have traditionally had only Russian language in all our public transport,” said a metro train official incharge of the marshals posted to help passengers requesting not to name him as he is not officially permitted to speak on matters of administration.
The ticketing counters have also been ensured that the staff on duty is English speaking and trained to be conversant with foreign guests, he added.
The Moscow Metro’s ticket offices with English speaking staff will feature special stickers ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. English-speaking cashiers will easily explain to foreigners what kinds of tickets are available, how to add money to the Troika card and where to go on the metro. The “We speak English” stickers will be displayed on the upper part of the ticket window.
“Moscow city is all ready to welcome our international guests, you can check our preparation and you will find that none of our guests will have any issue to reach to the venues or to ask for an information,” said Maxim Liksutov, Deputy Moscow Mayor, Head of the Department of Transport and Road Infrastructure briefing a group of journalists about the FIFA preparations.
Nearly 100 metro staff and over 100 volunteers who speak English will be on standby at the stations for backup. They will give fans and foreign tourists directions to the station or the stadium they need and will help them choose a route to see the city’s main sights, he added.
The Moscow Metro mobile app has added a special section for FIFA fans. The app users will be able to plan a route to Spartak Stadium and Luzhniki’s Big Sports Arena, which will host the tournament’s matches, and to city bike-share stations. It will also indicate the most suitable means of transport. The app section for fans will are not just in English but in five more languages – French, Spanish, Chinese, German and Portuguese.
The Metro staff in Russia went through training’s in soft skills and special English phrases which were taught to staff and cashiers on the Moscow Metro as part of preparations for the World Cup.