A farewell to arms? Well, certainly not in the Urals. The region has always been a large industrial centre and it’s due to many defence plants that the Urals had been closed to foreigners until 1991.
VII International Exhibition of Armament, Military Equipment and Ammunition ‘Russian Expo Arms’ was traditionally held in Nizhni Tagil in 8-11 September. Nizhni Tagil (140 north of Yekaterinburg) is known in Russia as a homeland for tanks. UralVagonZavod is the factory that started producing T-34 tanks in 1941. The latest model T-90C was shown in action on the training field. It was impressive and very loud, just what the public likes.
Prime Minister Putin, who visited Expo Arms and checked out the T-90 tank, said that the exhibition should draw attention of international specialists and promote development of the international military-technical cooperation. The countries especially drawn to big machines were Vietnam, India, Zambia and Uganda. There were also producers from Ukraine, Belarus, France and Italy this year.
Russian Expo Arms is an open event – no passport controls for foreigners. Tickets cost 300-500R and it was easy to get free VIP tickets especially if you know someone in Nizhni Tagil. As I was leaving the premises, a TV reporter was interviewing visitors asking what they thought about event. A local man’s reply was obvious yet very absurd: “I feel so proud of my country, I’m proud of how strong Russia is”. Surely, there is nothing wrong about being proud of the country that can make a big toy able to destroy hundreds of people at a time. But it was said on September, 11, that’s why his comment sounded bizarre to me…
However, there was something for pacifists too – KAMAZ and Ural trucks were my favourite: they can work at -50 and +55C, climb steep hills and swim in lakes. This car is worth buying for those who dream of traveling from Moscow to Vladivostok and back!
Unlike Mr. Putin I visited Russian Expo Arms on the last day and missed a demonstration of air weapons – launches and bombing from helicopters and planes (not that I really regret it). The weather on that day was gloomy so my photos are a bit dark but it adds to the ambience of Russian military pride. There are also sunny photos by Benjamin Gaillard, a French expat in Yekaterinburg. Enjoy!
p.s. ExpoArms is held in early September every second year. The next one is in 2013
- Military Museum in Verkhnyaya Pyshma
- Nizhni Tagil – a tour for tough men only.
- Urals through the eyes of an Italian photographer
- Ice town 2013 in Yekaterinburg
- Innoprom 2011- Yekaterinburg goes innovative