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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, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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