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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

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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