MOSCOW, July 6 (UPI) -- The State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, approved plans Monday to build a bridge from the Russian mainland to Crimea as part of $4 billion project.
The bill has simplified permit and licensing procedures for companies involved in the project, which will be managed by Stroigazmontazh (SGM), The Moscow Times reported. The company is owned by Arkady Rotenberg, a personal friend of President Vladimir Putin. The bill is headed toward the upper house, the Federation Council, for approval before going to the president to sign into law.
The project is slated to be completed by December 2018. Rotenberg was quoted in Kommersant, a daily newspaper, last year that the project would cost 228.3 billion rubles or $4 billion.
Rotenberg has an estimated personal wealth of $1.4 billion in 2015, making him the country's 60th richest man, and was one of the first Russians to be hit with U.S. sanctions as punishment for the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year.
President Putin has furthersecurity plans for Crimea. Interfax news agency reported that Russia will deploy the first Bastion silo-based surface-to-ship missile system in the Crimean Peninsula by 2020. It will be positioned in the region as part of Russia's plans to increase its control over the Black Sea.
"The first Bastion silo-based surface-to-ship missile system will be deployed in Crimea within the next five years," a source within the Russian navy told Interfax. "It will use both the currently existing Yakhont anti-ship [missiles] and prospected missile systems being developed at the moment, which will be capable of destroying any target in the Black Sea area."