Barom E T E R


Painting the town The tarting-up of Northern Irish villages on the route between Belfast International airport and Lough Erne, the resort which hosted the G8 summit, has been likened to the 'Potemkin villages' employed by the Soviet Union in the 1920s to impress foreign visitors. But is the concept of a Potemkin village itself a deception?

- The origin of the term lies in a visit by Catherine the Great to the Crimea in 1787, when Grigory Potemkin, governor general of Russia's southern provinces, is supposed to have constructed fake villages along the Dneiper River to impress the royal party.

- The story is now disputed, with some suggesting rumours were spread to discredit Potemkin.

- Historian Aleksandr Panchenko has taken a slightly different line, suggesting that the mock-ups did exist, but were not an attempt to deceive, but an impression of what Crimea could one day look like. …

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