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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

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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