MOSCOW - Adoring fans have flocked to see him on visits around the world, but Barack Obama should expect a far cooler reception in Russia next week.
An outpouring of hope in the U.S. president -- dubbed Obamamania -- swept much of the world in January after Obama moved into the White House and George W. Bush, unpopular in many countries, moved out.
But the phenomenon largely passed Russians by.
We didn't even know he was coming, said a young woman employee at an upmarket Moscow clothing boutique, dragging on a cigarette as she spent her break chatting with colleagues in matching beige suits.
Rows over United States' plans to position elements of a missile shield system in eastern Europe, and a war last year between Russia and NATO-aspirant Georgia, have strained Moscow-Washington ties.
After Obama's January inauguration, Russian newspapers did not plaster their front pages with photos of the event like other publications around the world. Advance coverage of his July 6-8 trip in state-controlled media has been muted.
A global economic crisis has hit Russia hard and unemployment has shot up to around a nine-year high. Most ordinary Russians have more pressing issues to consider than Obama's first visit to their country as U.S. president.
It's good that he's the president after Bush but we're far more worried about money than his trip, said Yevgeny Mesnikov, 26, before taking another slug from his bottle of beer.
He had just finished a 12-hour overnight shift renovating the nearby Bolshoi Theater, work that he said paid $500 a month.
Things have become much harder here in the crisis, he said leaning on a dirty table outside a street kiosk.
But if Obama's visit has not triggered adulation, his forthcoming meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have aroused some interest.
It's important that Obama comes here and builds a personal relationship with Medvedev, said Anastasia Usova, 24, who works in a newly opened Starbucks coffee shop.
Mutual pledges to hit the reset button on relations and work toward a new deal on cutting nuclear weapons have encouraged hopes of warmer ties. A survey by independent pollster the Levada Center showed 28 percent of Russians thought Obama would improve relations against 57 percent who said nothing would change.
It shows how democratic the United States is that they have elected their first non-white president, said Olga Kuznetsova, a middle-aged architect strolling through the capital. It's good that he's visiting Moscow. We'll see what happens.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)