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Itera to Spend Billions Building Minsk-City

Published: August 7, 2007 (Issue # 1295)


MINSK It may be better known as the capital city of Europes last dictatorship but Minsk is looking to turn itself into an international financial and business hub.

Now, oil and gas giant Itera looks set to invest tens of billions of dollars in a massive new business and residential center in the heart of the city.

Conceived along the same lines as the ambitious Moskva-City project, the 300-hectare Minsk-City would eventually dwarf even its Russian counterpart.

On Tuesday, representatives from Iteras construction arm, Interainvest Holding, held a meeting with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk to discuss the project.

During the meeting, Iteras interest in broadening its cooperation with Belarus was underlined, the company said in a news release. As part of this we discussed Iteras involvement in constructing the Minsk-City residential and administrative business center.

The Minsk-City proposal put forward by Itera envisions living space for up to 38,000 inhabitants, high-rise administrative-business complexes and a central 80-story skyscraper. The project would be built in the Aeroport district of the city, Itera said in a statement.

The project could cost around $30 billion, Russian media reports said.

Work is slated to start on the project in 2009, the official Belarus press agency reported.

The Minsk-City project was first mooted in May when Lukashenko set Minsks City Hall a timetable to come up with plans for the development, a statement from Lukashenkos office said.

Since being elected president of Belarus in 1994, Lukashenko has faced a barrage of international criticism over his perceived authoritarian rule, a clampdown on opposition parties and rigged elections.

In 2004, the United States introduced a series of targeted economic sanctions against Lukashenkos government for undermining the countrys democratic processes and for human rights abuses. Asked how viable the Minsk-City project is, Mihails Morozovs, managing partner of Colliers International in the Baltic states and Belarus, said many people had doubts about the feasibility of the Moskva-City project to begin with.

It is a question of how long-term your horizons are, Morozovs said.

If Lukashenko is personally behind the project, this could help speed the drive toward development, Morozovs said, citing Mayor Yury Luzhkovs personal backing for projects in Moscow.

If Minsk wishes to be recognized not only on the political but also on the business map of the future, then it has to have certain infrastructure. Minsk-City is one of the key points in this strategy, Morozovs said.

At present there are only around 70,000 square meters of Class A and Class B office space in Minsk, a very low figure for a city of 2 million people, Morozovs said.

Morozovs said there were both negative and positive aspects of working in Minsk, citing serious administrative control over the market. He said developers in Minsk faced greater difficulties than in Moscow. Any major architectural development would have to go hand in hand with massive investment into basic infrastructure, such as road and rail, Morozovs said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Oct. 2


The celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Mikhail Lermontov continues with todays free exhibition in the citys Lermontov Library at 19 Liteiny Prospekt. Titled Under the Rustling Wings, the temporary exhibition will feature the costumes and scenery used in the 1917 production of Lermontovs play The Masquerade, which he wrote in 1835 when he was only 21 years old.



Friday, Oct. 3


Learn more about how to manage and evaluate employee performance during SPIBAs Human Resources Committee meeting this morning on Employee Assessment: Global and Local Trends. Starting at 9:30 a.m., the discussion will touch on such topics as the partnership between HR and business, reliable assessment strategies and more, with Tatiana Andrianova, the head of the SHL Russia and CIS branch in St. Petersburg, as the featured guest. Confirm your participation by Oct. 2 by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.


AmChams Procurement Committee Meeting is at 9 a.m. this morning in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.



Saturday, Oct. 4


Wine and cheese lovers will get their chance to revel during Scandinavia Country Club and Spas Wine Market Weekend. Going on today and tomorrow, wining diners can listen to live music, take part in culinary classes and, of course, sample a variety of fine wines from around the world. The cost of admission is 400 rubles ($10.30) for adults and 200 rubles ($5.15) for children.



Sunday, Oct. 5


Look for the latest fall fashions at the Autumn Market today in Freedom Anticafe at 7 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. The minimarket plans to offer clothes more flattering than the puffy jackets that are a staple of the citys cold-weather fashion, while offering the same amount of protection from the biting winds blowing off of the Baltic.



Monday, Oct. 6


SKA St. Petersburg, the citys KHL affiliate, welcomes Slovakian club HC Slovan in a match-up tonight at the Ice Palace near the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on the clubs website or in person at either the arenas box office or the clubs merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Oct. 7


Learn more about Russias energy industry at the St. Petersburg Energy Forum that begins today and runs through Oct. 10. Attracting industry experts and political and business representatives, the forum plans to welcome more than 350 plus companies and their representatives to discuss the future of Russias largest economic sector.



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