Pullman Hotel in Tbilisi Refuses to Host OpenTalks.AI Conference

The OpenTalks.AI conference, scheduled to take place March 6-7 at the Pullman Hotel in Tbilisi, has been canceled. The Russian organizer of the conference, held annually since 2018, is Ilabs, which has previously partnered with the Putin-funded Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) and many currently sanctioned Russian companies. The cancelation notice was announced on March 2 by the organizers’ on the official website following the news of the rejection by the Pullman Hotel the to provide the premises for the event. The front page of the website reads: “The conference in Tbilisi is cancelled. For reasons beyond our control. We are very hurt and sad, but this is the situation.”

The Pullman Hotel’s explains: “Due to the high level of public interest, we would like to inform you that after receiving additional information about the OpenTalks.AI conference, the management of the Pullman Tbilisi Axis Towers Hotel has decided not to hold the said event on the hotel premises. The decision to cancel the OpenTalks.AI conference, regardless of the potential financial consequences, underscores Pullman’s commitment and unwavering support for the principles and values of international cooperation.”

Although the conference website does not list any sanctioned Russian companies as sponsors, the organizer, Ilabs, has a history of working with the sanctioned VTB, Yandex, Rostelecom, Sberbank, Megafon, and Skoltech. Representatives and current employees of these companies were scheduled to be speakers and/or moderators at the conference.

Notably, Skoltech University is located on the territory of the Skolkovo Innovation Center in Moscow. The center was founded in 2010 and was an attempt by the Russian government to create its version of Silicon Valley. Skoltech University opened in 2011 as a joint effort with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and with financial support from the Russian government. However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, MIT suspended its partnership with Skoltech.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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