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Russian parliament authorizes establishment of gambling zones in Crimea, Sochi

July 04, 2014, 17:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The gambling zone could provide up to $726.8 million to the budget of Crimea annually

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MOSCOW, July 04. /ITAR-TASS/. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, on Friday adopted a bill putting the Republic of Crimea on a list of regions where the establishment of gambling zones is authorized.

The boundaries of the zone will be determined by the executive authorities of Crimea, a former Ukrainian region that reunified with Russia in March.

According to expert assessments, the gambling zone could provide up to 25 billion rubles ($726.8 million) to the budget of Crimea annually.

Besides, the tourist flow is expected to increase and the hotel business and food service industry to develop. Investment is assessed at $100 million - $1 billion. Some potential investors have already voiced their readiness to inject funds.

Crimea’s acting head Sergey Aksyonov earlier told ITAR-TASS that the gambling zone will likely be located in the city of Yalta but no particular site has been chosen.

Deputies supported amendments that allow the establishment of a gambling zone in the southern Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

To that end, amendments are introduced in line with which the borders of the gambling zone on the territory of the southern Russian Krasnodar Territory will be defined by the government of Russia within the boundaries of land plots provided for accommodation of Olympic facilities of federal significance.

Earlier, German Gref, the head of Russia’s largest lender Sberbank, spoke with an initiative to establish a gambling zone in Sochi, which hosted Winter Olympics in February 2014. Sberbank controls the Krasnaya Polyana joint-stock company that built the Gornaya Karusel (Mountain Carousel) alpine skiing sports and tourist center.

Russian laws already allow the establishment of gambling zones in four regions - the Altai Territory in West Siberia, the Krasnodar Territory in southern Russia, the Primorye Territory in the Far East and in the Kaliningrad Region - Russia’s exclave on the Baltic Sea coast.


Crimea reunification with Russia

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The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February, when ultranationalist rhetoric could be heard from representatives of the junta.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11. They held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine and remained in that capacity until March 2014, when it reunified with Russia after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has acceded to the Russian Federation.

The West led by the United States has subjected some Russian officials and companies to sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, following Crimea’s incorporation by Russia, and threatened Moscow with further penalties, including economic ones. Russia has dismissed the language of sanctions.

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