Potemkin village

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Potemkin village

Something that is made to seem very grand, elaborate, and/or prosperous for the purposes of impressing others, but which in reality has no real worth or substance. Taken from a story about Russian minister Grigory Potemkin (1739–1791), who allegedly erected false, painted façades to mimic a thriving, successful village along the Dnieper River in Crimea to impress the visiting Empress Catherine II. The tightly controlled totalitarian country is often accused of creating a Potemkin village each time it televises some event, a meager attempt to convince the outside world that its people are happy under the thumb of the dictatorship.
See also: Potemkin, village

a Potemkin village

a sham or unreal thing.
Count Potemkin ( 1739–91 ), a favourite of Empress Catherine II of Russia, reputedly ordered a number of fake villages to be built for the empress's tour of the Crimea in 1787 .
See also: Potemkin, village
References in periodicals archive ?
The name was taken from a battleship Potyomkin, immortalised in the iconic Russian film Potemkin.
It has some good museums that are small enough to be easily enjoyed in a few hours, the famed Potyomkin steps descending from the hill overlooking the harbor, and nearby beaches.
But no diarist here projects his own experience and personality with such peculiarly novelistic thoroughness as Leonid Potyomkin. His diary is strewn with knots of official verbiage, recited without irony and often without sense.