Russian Duma passes bill for bridge to Crimea

Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, has approved plans to build a $4bn bridge from the Russian mainland to Crimea.

The bill passed this week on 6 July, The Moscow Times reported, citing Russian-language newspaper Vedemosti.

Kremlin ally and businessman Arkady Rotenberg (Wikimedia Commons)

It now heads to the upper house, the Federation Council, for approval before sign-off by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

It brings the project a step closer for the pipeline construction company Stroygazmontazh (SGM), owned by Kremlin ally and businessman Arkady Rotenberg.

Stroygazmontazh was picked for the mega project in January.

In March, Stroygazmontazh established a subsidiary called SGM-Bridge to build the road and rail bridge over the Kerch Strait to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March last year.

The bill simplifies permit and licensing procedures for companies involved in the project, according to the report.

The project is to be completed no later than December 2018, when the law on building the bridge expires. 

While the price of SGM’s contract to build the bridge has not been publicly disclosed, Rotenburg was quoted as saying in newspaper Kommersant last year that it would cost 228.3 billion rubles ($4bn).

Rotenburg was one of the first Russians to be hit with US sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Image: The Kerch Strait, with a view of the port in Crimea (Aleksander Kaasik/Wikimedia Commons)

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