As it puts the final touches on stadiums and cities hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup this month, Russia is also busy expanding the list of world leaders participating in the opening ceremony, in an effort to thwart a "boycott campaign" led by Britain.
The Kremlin expects a large international presence that will turn the sporting event into an occasion for high-level meetings with heads of visiting delegations.
Many foreign heads of state and government are expected at the World Cup, said presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
The world leaders will attend matches of their respective teams.
"We are working hard to prepare for these visits," added Peskov.
The Russians are expanding the list of participating leaders in an attempt to thwart what they described earlier as "an organized campaign by Britain and other countries to expand the boycott."
A number of EU members have declared their political boycott of the World Cup in wake of the March poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. The development sparked global outrage and strained ties between Moscow and Europe. Many leaders have announced that they would not be attending the World Cup opening ceremony over the incident.
Russia believes Britain, Poland and Iceland are leading the campaign, that is why Moscow was very pleased to announce a long list of world leaders wishing to attend the June 14 ceremony.
In addition to French President Emmanuel Macron, senior officials in Europe broke the British boycott, including the president of Croatia and the deputy Austrian Chancellor, as well as senior officials from Serbia and Germany.
The Russian Sports Ministry said European sports ministers wanted to attend the event.
Kremlin is being silent on the final list of leaders, however, leaks have pointed to a prominent presence from China, Egypt and some countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which includes Russia's main allies Kazakhstan, Moldova and Belarus.
A prominent North Korean official is also expected to attend.
There have been strong signs that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, may attend the ceremony in Moscow, especially since the opening match of the tournament will take place between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will run from June 14 to July 15 and cover 11 cities.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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