• Russia draws blueprint for Crimea as special economic zone


    MOSCOW: Russian government started drawing a blueprint for the future of Crimea as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev considered granting Crimea the status of special economic zone.

    During a government meeting on Monday, Medvedev ordered to consider the possibility of granting Crimea the status of special economic zone.

    He urged the government to work out transitional measures for the period until Jan. 1, 2015, including tax breaks for Crimea’s businesses. He also ordered to work out a federal program on Crimea’s social-economic development until June.

    The government has set up a special commission chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak on Crimea and the city of Sevastopol for their smooth incorporation into Russia’s economic, financial and legal systems.

    The commission’s work would embrace, among other tasks, securing uninterrupted supply of goods to the peninsula, energy supplies, merging communication networks, issuing Russian passports to everyone in Crimea who wishes to become Russian citizen.

    Everyone could get Russian passport by summer, “which is of a tremendous importance,” Medvedev said, according to the government ‘s press service.

    “People in Crimea should enjoy the same opportunities, rights and guaranties that all Russian citizens do,” he said, adding that “no one (in Crimea) should lose anything.”

    According to Medvedev, Crimea should become independent from Ukraine’s infrastructure. For that, the Prime Minister said, the region will be connected to the Russia’s unified energy system and build its own power generating facilities.

    To cover its energy needs, the region must increase natural gas production twice in the next few years, Medvedev noted.

    According to Kozak, the Russian government has prepared ” additional resources” in case of possible power cuts in Crimea.

    “We are ready for emergency situations related to electrical power cuts but this is not profitable for the Ukrainian energy system either economically or technically. I hope that common sense will prevail,” he said.

    On the same day, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu became the first senior Russian official to visit the newly-admitted region.

    During his meeting with former Ukrainian military personnel remaining in Crimea, Shoigu noted that every Ukrainian serviceman might continue military service in the Russian armed forces.

    As a confirmation of his words, Shoigu formally appointed former Chief of Ukrainian Navy Denis Berezovsky as Deputy Commander of the Black Sea Fleet.

    Shoigu handed a Russian serviceman’s badge to Berezovsky, who has taken the oath of allegiance to Russia on March 2.

    Last Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into legislation the accession of Crimea after both houses of the parliament unanimously approved it. PNA


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