MOSCOW, January 30. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to make Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg’s Stroygazmontazh company the general contractor in the project to build a bridge from mainland Russia to Crimea, the Kommersant business daily reported Friday.
"Today a government order is to be published, which approves Stroygazmontazh as the only performer of the contract to build a bridge across the Kerch Strait," a few sources familiar with the situation told Kommersant.
The fact that the order was being drafted became known in mid-January, but on January 21 Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak supervising the project said the decision on the general contractor had not been made yet, the newspaper said.
Representatives of Medvedev and Kozak refused to comment on the situation, and the Transport Ministry only said they "prepared a draft order and submitted it to the government."
Rotenberg told Kommersant that there is no detailed documentation on the project yet and its final cost has not been defined either. The businessman said the figure of 228.3 billion rubles ($3.3 billion at current rates), which had been named as estimated cost since fall, is real, but stressed that it could be adjusted.
The combined railroad and highway bridge is to be built and commissioned in 2018. The overall length of the bridge will be 19 kilometers.
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 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, 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, 2014.
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.
Crimea had joined the Russian Empire in 1783, when it was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
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.
According to the Crimean and Ukrainian statistics bodies, as of early 2014, Crimea had a population of 1,959,000 people; Sevastopol has a population of 384,000 people.
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.