Russia to create special economic zone in Crimea to woo investors

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Crimea with several members of his government on the highest level visit to the Black Sea peninsula since its annexation by Moscow earlier

Russia to create special economic zone in Crimea to woo investors

World Bulletin / News Desk

Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday.

"Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development," Medvedev told a Russian government meeting on the Black Sea peninsula, which Moscow has annexed from Ukraine.

The absorption of Crimea and its 2 million residents creates an added financial burden on Russia, which is struggling with slow growth and facing Western sanctions over what the United States and European Union say is an illegal land grab.

Medvedev said pensions for Crimeans would be raised gradually over the coming months until they reach the national level, and promised upgrades of the peninsula's roads and other infrastructure.

But his remarks indicated the Kremlin hopes Crimea, which he said had "colossal prospects" for tourism income, will become self-sufficient in fairly short order.

"There are opportunities for this - we have taken everything into consideration," Medvedev said. He said the special economic zone "will allow for the use of special tax and customs regimes in Crimea, and also minimise administrative procedures."

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Crimea on Monday, flaunting his country's grip on the Black Sea peninsula following its annexation from Ukraine.

Medvedev took several government officials with him on the highest-level visit to Crimea since President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on absorbing it into Russia on March 21.

"(I'm) in Simferopol," Medvedev said on Twitter after his plane landed in the main city in the region. "Today the government will discuss the development of Crimea here."

The visit is likely to irk Kiev and Western governments which accuse Moscow of illegally seizing Crimea from Ukraine after the region voted to join Russia in a referendum they described as a sham.

Russia's swift takeover of Crimea, following the ouster of Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich as Ukraine's president in late February, has caused the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

Medvedev arrived in Simferopol hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris late on Sunday and reiterated that Washington considered Russia's actions in Crimea "illegal and illegitimate".

The United States and EU have imposed sanctions on Russian officials, lawmakers and allies of Putin over Crimea. They are threatening broader measures if Russia, which has forces massed near Ukraine's eastern border, seeks to take more territory.

Last Mod: 31 Mart 2014, 13:22
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