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Crimea Offers Scenery and Tax Breaks; Russian Business Unconvinced

Published: May 30, 2014 (Issue # 1813)



  • Waves lapping up against a monument to the scuttled ships of the Black Sea Fleet in the bay of Sevastopol.
    Photo: Denis Abramov / Vedomosti

In an effort to jumpstart Crimea's faltering economy, a government plan could offer tax breaks and other juicy business conditions on the peninsula for the next half century — but even this may not be enough to attract businesses to the badly run-down region.

Russian politicians began talking about creating a special economic zone in Crimea almost immediately after the referendum on March 16, in which more than 90 percent of voters supported leaving Ukraine to become Russia's 22nd republic.

"Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development," Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in early April, RIA Novosti reported.

The legislation, which is currently under development in the Economic Development Ministry, provides truly appetizing conditions: residents of the special economic zone are freed from property taxes, land taxes, transport taxes and federal profit taxes, Gazeta.ru reported, citing a copy of the document. These conditions are sure to pique investors' interest, although in the current draft only the largest players will qualify. The price of becoming a resident eligible to receive the zone's privileges costs 150 million rubles ($4.3 million), putting the status effectively out of the reach of small and mid-sized businesses.

"Crimea is a tourism and service zone, the local population earns most of their income through small businesses. The entry ticket should be affordable," said Andrey Goltsblat, Managing Partner of Goltsblat BLP. This issue is already receiving attention: Russian business lobby group Delovaya Rossia has proposed lowering the limit to 70 million rubles ($2 million) for medium-sized businesses and 20 million rubles ($580,000) for small businesses, co-chairman Andrey Nazarov said.

But if the legislation is to achieve its aims at all, it will have to overcome one crucial obstacle that has become the elephant in the room during political and business debates over Crimea. The regions' social and transportation infrastructure has received essentially no investment since the fall of the Soviet Union, and would now be hard put to support an influx of demanding modern businesses.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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