Marcelo Crivella:

I’m in love with Moscow’s beauty!

A delegation from Rio de Janeiro, headed up by mayor Marcelo CRIVELLA, recently came to Moscow for a three-day visit. Before going back to Brazil the Mayor sat down for an exclusive interview with Sergo Kukhianidze, the editor in chief of Capital Ideas.

59-year old Marcelo Crivella became mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil, at the end of last year. After assuming office on January 1, 2017, the new mayor promised to maintain law and order, fight poverty, cut down on unnecessary expenses from the city budget, and encouraged everybody to understand the importance of respecting family values. Our conversation with Mr. Crivella took place at The Ritz-Carlton, where he stayed during his time in Moscow. He had just returned from a meeting with Russian businessmen and was clearly in good spirits.

Mr. Crivella, how did your meeting with Moscow’s business representatives go?

Good, I am happy with it. I saw some really interesting projects that people are ready to bring to Rio de Janeiro. These projects entail the construction of hotels, residential buildings and shopping centers. These projects have already been implemented in Moscow and a number of other cities – Buenos Aires, Jakarta, Singapore, in South Africa. Of course Rio de Janeiro and Moscow are different cities in terms of both scale and population, but we have a lot in common. For example, much like you, we are restoring the city center. Your businessmen could take part in improvement projects for areas like Avenida Vargas and the port district.

Is this your first time visiting Moscow?


Is your impression of the city different from what you heard about Moscow before coming here?

I won’t lie, there is a big difference. I learned about Moscow through movies, mostly Hollywood movies. These films portray Moscow as a grey, dangerous place, where it’s always raining or snowing. By the way, Rio de Janeiro also gets a lot of negative coverage in mass media sources, and this is often unjustified. In reality, our city is colorful, beautiful, and full of good, hard-working, optimistic people.

I found today’s Moscow to be colorful and welcoming as well. I can definitely say that my wife and I fell in love with Moscow’s beauty. We ended up on a boat tour of the Moscow River and saw a lot of beautiful buildings, churches, and parks – a lot of light and smiling people.

Were you able to put your hand on the city’s pulse, to feel the rhythm of Moscow?

I think so, in spite of the fact that this was a short visit. For example, it’s clear to me that the city has departed from its communist past and is looking toward the future. At the same time, I noticed that the new system incorporates a lot of great things from the past. I saw a lot of examples of this in public-private partnerships, which are very well developed in Moscow. Even though we never had communism in Brazil, we are pursuing a similar path now: combining government with private business.

Out of everything you saw, did anything in particular interest you as a mayor?

All the video cameras – over 140,000 of them – that are all over the city. This is truly grandiose. They really provide solutions to a ton of problems when it comes to life in the city, transportation, and safety. We don’t have anything similar in Rio de janeiro. The cameras we do have are mostly there to collect fines for speeding.

I was also amazed at how accessible the Internet is in Moscow. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. You have a very big area surrounded by fiber-optic wires. In my city, they only stretch for about one thousand kilometers. We would like for your experts in this field to come over and tell us about their experience.

In your opinion, what are some potential areas of cooperation between our cities?

There are many of them, including construction, healthcare, nanotechnology, information technology, and tourism. All of this is included in the 2017-2019 cooperation program signed by me and the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin.

In your opinion, are investors from Rio de Janeiro ready to come to Moscow?

Yes, Moscow provides every opportunity for this. I can say that we will gladly welcome Russian investors who are ready to invest in our city’s infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro as well. You know, the crisis has made mutual investments more affordable. I think we should all take advantage of this.

Mr. Mayor, I know that you are also a pastor. I wanted to ask you if you’ve had time to explore the city’s spiritual life during your time in Moscow.

Yes, I visited a church that was built in Moscow by Brazilian pastors. It has 640 parishioners. During my visit, I met with the ministers and some of the worshippers. It was like being back in Brazil! Overall, I felt that Russians are religious people. Nothing could shake the Russian faith – not wars, political changes, or the economic crisis. During my visit, I also learned that the church cupolas in Russia are covered with gold. When the sun shines on them, they light up like candles. I think this is a very powerful message: the cupolas as lit candles! It’s a testament to the strength of Russian faith. I think this is a lesson for the whole world. You can’t accomplish anything without faith.

Let’s talk about food. Brazil is known for its food culture. Did Moscow make an impression on you in this sense?

Very much so! One day I tried shrimp with different sauces, including wasabi. I’ve never had that anywhere else. Believe me, these were the most delicious shrimp in the world. I’ll put it this way: I won’t consider myself a good son if I don’t bring my Mom to Moscow one day so she can try this delicious dish as well!

When you come back home, I’m sure your colleagues and friends will ask about your visit to Moscow. What will you tell them?

I’ll tell them how I was impressed by Moscow, how I fell in love with this city. I’ll say that we really need to organize Moscow Days in Rio de Janeiro to let our city residents get to know Moscow and Russia, to learn about your accomplishments in various spheres of life.

I noticed that you used Russians words like “horosho” and “spasibo” a lot during your time here. Where did you learn them?

Back in Brazil. But you know, I learned a new phrase in Russian here which you all seem to know so well: “Moscow is no Rio de Janeiro”! (Laughs)



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