Catherine the Great’s beloved Grigori Potemkin used to be her advance man as she toured Russia. He become famous in history for building entirely false villages in the recently conquered Crimea to elevate the status of her new conquest:
Potemkin villages were purportedly fake settlements erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. According to this story, Potemkin, who led the Crimean military campaign, had hollow facades of villages constructed along the desolate banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the monarch and her travel party with the value of her new conquests, thus enhancing his standing in the empress’s eyes.
(Read more here to learn how these villages might not have been as duplicitous as they sound.)
The Chinese have gone Potemkin one better. Rather than building something out of nothing, they’ve used elaborate false fronts to hide the squalor in which so many of their citizens live. The QandO Blog has more, along with a little dig at Obama’s naive belief that Beijing has created a fully functional infrastructure, just for the Olympics.
Hat tip: suek