The mayor of Russia’s 'least friendly city' fights back: 'We will not allow anyone to say our city is bad'

The Russian city of Vladikavkaz has invited the journalist who told The Independent it was 'corrupt, hideous and dreadful' to change his mind

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The Independent Travel

When we ran our piece on the world’s least friendly cities - where The Independent travel team asked some of our top travel writers to recount the places they had been made to feel least welcome - we expected some backlash from those named and shamed. But the city of Vladikavkaz is one place that refuses to take our views lying down. 

Instead, the mayor of the southern Russian city has invited the journalist who called it the least friendly place he had ever encountered to revisit and be proved wrong.

Local news website Slovo made a stern promise in its headline: “Municipality of Vladikavkaz is going to change the view of Jamie Lafferty.” 

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Russian news site Slovo ran a story about the municipality inviting the journalist to change his mind

In response to The Independent’s article and Lafferty’s assertion that Vladikavkaz contained “corrupt police, hideous humid weather [and] dreadful food”, leaders of the city’s administration said: “We will not allow anyone to say our city is bad, so we wait for him to visit at any time, and we will show our city in all colours.”

Of Vladikavkaz’s colourfulness, Lafferty had said: “The sky was grey, the people were grey, the Ladas were grey.”

The administration added: “We have decided to invite Jamie Lafferty to show how hospitable the capital of North Ossetia can be.”

The municipality even posted a picture of Lafferty on its Instagram account with the words “WELCOME”.

 

Мэрия Владикавказа пригласила британского путешественника Джеймса Лафферти еще раз посетить столицу Северной Осетии, чтобы убедиться в его дружелюбности. ____ ЧИТАЙТЕ ПРЕДЫДУЩУЮ НОВОСТЬ #ВладикавказНеДружелюбный ____ Об этом сообщила руководитель пресс-службы АМС Владикавказа Дзерасса Дзестелова сообщила порталу "15-й Регион". _ Реакция на рейтинг британского издания The Independent, отнесшего Владикавказ к числу девяти самых недружелюбных городов мира, сразу же нашла реакцию у руководства города. _ «Видимо, господина Лафферти встречали не те люди. Поэтому от имени мэра города Бориса Албегова приглашаем его вновь посетить Владикавказ в любое удобное для него время. Полагаем, у него будет отличная возможность убедиться в гостеприимности и, конечно же, дружелюбности владикавказцев», — отметила Дзерасса Дзестелова. _ Напомним, другие опрошенные британским изданием авторы, назвали самыми недружелюбными городами мира Баку, Прагу, Варшаву, Макао (КНР), американские Даллас и Майами, исландский Рейкьявик и вьетнамский Ханой. #новостивладикавказа #владикавказ #newsvladikavkaz

A photo posted by #НовостиВладикавказа (@news_vladikavkaz) on

 

It is believed these statements were not intended to be threatening.

Lafferty, who is currently a finalist for the ‘Travel Writer of the Year’ title at the Association of Independent Tour Operators travel press awards, said he would “definitely think about” accepting the mayor’s invitation.

“Vladikavkaz isn’t the worst place I’ve ever been but it was one of the unfriendliest,” he added. “It’s in a pretty troubled part of the world but over 300,000 people call it home - I guess there must be something to like about it.”

On whether he thought the city could change his mind, Lafferty responded: “All of my experiences were negative last time so there’s a pretty low bar to clear.

"If I’m hosted by the mayor I doubt it’ll be a very organic trip, but it’d at least be helpful to have someone point me in the direction of the attractions - assuming there are some.”

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