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Crimea govt looks to relocate gambling zone

Despite initial claims that "all the works" on a gambling zone in Russia-annexed Crimea would be completed in 2017, there appears to be further foot dragging in the beginning of 2018.

Earlier this week Crimean head Sergei Aksenyov signed an order to set up a working group tasked with selecting a new land lot for the zone. The document was published on the Crimean government's website.

The group comprises of 14 local officials, including Vice Premier Vitaly Nakhlupin.

A local official in charge of tourism, Alexei Chernyak, explained to Russian paper Komsomolskaya Pravda that the authorities are willing to find a bigger land lot for the future zone.

"The area [we already selected] is too small, we hope it will be bigger. It is not yet known if it will be situated in the south of Crimea or in any other region," Chernyak said.  

In 2014 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law envisaging the creation of a gambling zone in Crimea by 2019. In June 2016 the Crimean authorities defined the 16-ha area of the future zone near the Yalta resort in the southern part of the peninsula.

There were reports about an unnamed Russian investor ready to invest about RUB 8 billion (US$137 million).

Meanwhile, Crimean Construction Minister Sergei Kononov in an interview with a local publication ForPost did not rule out that the investor may withdraw from the project if the zone is relocated, compared to the initial project.

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