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British princess has a Siberian escort in Sochi

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13 February 2014


Now apparently Princess Anne is keen to come and see Lake Baikal. Picture:

Like thousands of Russians from all walks of life, Artyom Burlov applied as a volunteer at the Sochi Olympics to be part of this unique event. An entrepreneur and cinema producer from Ulan-Ude, who helped create two movies popularising Siberia's Lake Baikal, he wanted to be part of the Olympic experience.

He had no idea this would lead him to be driver for Anne, known in Britain as the Princess Royal, 11th in line to the throne and only daughter of monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Now apparently the royal - who was the first in the British queen's family to visit the Soviet Union - is keen to come and see Lake Baikal for herself. 

'When I was going to Sochi as a volunteer, I couldn't even imagine that I will be given such a responsible mission, to be driver for a British princess,' he said.

'I saw a call for a person, meeting delegations in Sochi several months ago on one of the websites', told us 31 yo Artyom. I got interested even though I didn't know what exactly I would be involved in. I knew it would be most likely meeting of either athletes, or official, and I sent my application without a second thought. An invitation to go through a casting followed soon. 

'I came to Sochi on 10 January and I was told I would be working as a driver. We were all  thoroughly tested, our driving skills and English were carefully checked. I'm driving since I am 17, so I went through all tests easily. I've been given a special uniform, squeaky clean and ideally pressed. We've also been given a lot of instructions on knowing the area, like the Olympic village, as well as knowing all Sochi landmarks'. 

'Those that were selected got divided between guests. I was very surprised to hear that I will Princess Ann's driver, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth.

'I felt really nervous when I was meeting her for the first time at the airport. But as soon as she sat in the car, and said hello in a friendly manner, my worries calmed down a bit'.

How an entrepreneur and cinema producer from Lake Baikal became driver to the UK's Princess Royal at the Winter Olympics.

How an entrepreneur and cinema producer from Lake Baikal became driver to the UK's Princess Royal at the Winter Olympics.

Artyom Burlov, 31, in Sochi. Pictures: Artyom's social accounts

Artyom explained: 'Princess Anne is escorted by guards and English Lords. She is always impeccably polite, reserved, and is very cautious about expressing her opinion. In other words she behaves just like a true Englishwoman and a member of the Royal family. But after the opening ceremony even she could not hide her emotions and was willingly sharing her impressions, saying that she liked everything'.

The princess was herself a competitor in the 1976 Summer Olympics and at the age of 21 she won the individual title at the European Eventing Championship. She is a UK representative on the International Olympic Committee. 

'Her schedule is done up to a minute, and she can't possible be late. For example, today she went to watch curling by 8.30 am. I had to wake up really early as it takes me about an hour on the bus to get from my hotel to Princess Anne's hotel. There I get into the Volkswagen. Her assistants call before every outing, letting me know where she's aiming to go. 

'She's already been to figure skating competition and ski-ing. In her last day in Sochi there is time in her schedule when everyone can get a photograph with the Princess. I am hoping I can get a picture, too', Artyom said.

Baikal Daily news agency reported this week that she has expressed interest to see Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest lake, containing 20% of the unfrozen freshwater on the planet. The authorities in the Republic of Buryatia are reported to be preparing an official invitation. 

Artyom is 'Cinema+' director, and he worked on creating 'To Baikal' and 'To Baikal-2'. The first movie was shown all around Russia and got into top 15 most profitable movies in the country.

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