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Dream Island on opening day. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty Images

Russia is opening its first theme park, Dream Island, on Saturday after two failed attempts, The New York Times reports.

Why now: Moscow now has a large enough group of middle-class consumers who can afford a trip to a theme park. The city has, as a result, already seen other new businesses spring up, such as shopping malls.

  • The park expects 5 million Moscow residents and 2.5 million tourists from elsewhere in Russia to visit annually, per the Times.
  • Dream Island cost $1.5 billion to complete.
  • Dream Island draws on elements of Disneyland, but opening a Disneyland theme park in Russia was out of the question given the tensions between the Russian and American governments, the Times notes.

What they're saying: Amiran Mustoev, the park's owner and director, said the purchasing power of the middle class will hold even as Western sanctions remain in place and oil prices stay low, according to the Times.

Background:

  • Former Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev wanted a theme park "to mimic the soft power that America has to make people's lives more interesting and better," his granddaughter Nina Khrushcheva told the Times.
  • Former Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin attempted to build a theme park in the early post-Cold War years, but lacked the financing to do so.

Worth noting via the Times: "That the opening coincides with the coronavirus outbreak, when some people may want to avoid crowds, is another concern."

Go deeper

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

The new grifters: outrage profiteers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.

Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.

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