Offbeat Vladimir Putin To Open $4 Billion Bridge to Crimea Built By His Judo Sparring Partner

13:16  15 may  2018
13:16  15 may  2018 Source:   europe.newsweek.com

Putin’s bridge to Crimea illustrates his power — and his regime’s weak spot

  Putin’s bridge to Crimea illustrates his power — and his regime’s weak spot The government poured significant money into the project, but the president’s personal patronage hasn’t extended to several other much-needed public works improvements.Putin, clad in jeans and a jacket, walked on the Russian end of the 12-mile-long, four-lane bridge alongside the business mogul who built it — Arkady Rotenberg, the president’s former judo partner. Then Putin took the wheel and drove over the Kerch Strait of the Black Sea in an orange Kamaz dump truck — manufactured by a state-owned company headed by Sergey Chemezov, Putin’s KGB colleague in East Germany in the 1980s. Both Rotenberg and Chemezov are under U.S. sanctions.

At an estimated cost of .5 billion , the bridge to Crimea will be the most expensive bridge Russia has ever built . His personal relationship with Putin includes regular sessions of judo training and sparring .

The Crimean bridge , which is being built by Arkady Rotenberg, spans twelve miles and will cost billions of dollars. Putin sees the project as a key marker of Russia’s resurgence on the global stage. Rotenberg and Putin were judo sparring partners .

Vladimir Putin et al. wearing orange: 05_14_Putin_Crimea© Provided by IBT Media (UK) 05_14_Putin_Crimea A multibillion-dollar bridge between Russia and Crimea, territory annexed by Russia in 2014, will be opened by Vladimir Putin Tuesday.

The 12-mile road and rail bridge is the only land link between Russia with the Black Sea peninsula, seized by Russian forces from Ukraine in 2014.

Putin saw a surge in popularity following the action on Crimea and commissioned his judo sparring partner, construction mogul Arkady Rotenberg, to build the bridge.

On Monday evening Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Kommersant newspaper that it would be "hard to imagine that such a colossal construction project would open without the president.”

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Russia has handed a multi- billion dollar contract to build a bridge to the Crimea peninsula to an ally and former judo partner of Vladimir Putin who is under Western sanctions. A government order published on Friday named Stroygazmontazh (SGM)

WASHINGTON: Companies building a multi- billion dollar bridge to link the Russian mainland with annexed Crimea , a project close to the heart President Vladimir Putin , were targeted by the United States in an updated sanctions blacklist on Thursday.

A statement from the Kremlin describing the planned ceremony said: “A procession of construction vehicles will drive down the motorway." It added: “The event will be attended by the representatives of road construction crews from various regions of the country.”

Putin will lead the ceremonial unveiling of the bridge’s car lanes, alongside industry officials on Tuesday.

Public access to the the construction that reportedly cost Russia around $4 billion will be fully open to drivers and pedestrians from the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspects the road section of the road-and-rail Crimean Bridge over the Kerch Strait on March 14. The road section is set to officially open to the public on Wednesday. Yuri Kochetkov/AFP/Getty Images

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To build it, he turned to an old friend. At 12, Arkady Rotenberg was in the same judo club as Putin , where they became sparring partners and friends. Today, he’s helping the Russian President build a bridge to Crimea .

At an estimated cost of .5 billion , the bridge to Crimea will be the most expensive bridge Russia has ever built . His personal relationship with Putin includes regular sessions of judo training and sparring . Here are the two men together at a judo event

Road authorities have already opened the overpasses leading up to the bridge for drivers and a motorway with a speed limit of around 55 miles per hour will link the Russian and Crimean coastlines.

Besides cars and pedestrians, the bridge is designed to also accommodate cargo trucks and run a railway line, though both are expected to open later this year or next year.

The bridge’s construction is hugely controversial, not only because most United Nations countries still recognize Crimea as Ukrainian territory—despite it being under Russian control—but also because it obstructs the waterways that link three other Ukrainian regions to the Black Sea.

The bridge’s obstruction across the Kerch Strait—the waterway that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov—means that sea traffic from Ukraine’s Donetsk, eastern Kherson or Zaporozhye cannot sail to the Black Sea and beyond, without being granted access by Russia.

Ukraine’s government has vowed to take Russia to court over the bridge which one Ukrainian member of parliament described as a “blockade.”

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