Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cabinet Considers Moving Duma to St. Petersburg

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has told his ministers to examine a plan to build a $2 billion complex in St. Petersburg to host both houses of parliament and offices of the new Russia-Belarus Union, Kasyanov’s spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the Kommersant daily reported that the project is backed by both President Vladimir Putin and Kasyanov, who gave Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref until Christmas to complete a feasibility study and present it to the Cabinet.

A copy of the plan has also been sent to St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, one of a handful of politicians who openly supports moving the parliament back to Russia’s northern capital.

The proposal was put forward earlier this year by Pavel Borodin, the state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union and former supervisor of the Kremlin’s multibillion-dollar property empire. Borodin sent a draft decree approving the complex’s construction to Putin for his approval in August.

As it stands, the project will be run by the U.S. firm Cushman & Wakefield in exchange for attracting the financing needed to complete the complex. The proposed plan gives Cushman & Wakefield exclusive rights to renovate and lease long-term dozens of federal buildings in Moscow and St. Petersburg — including the ones now housing the State Duma and the Federation Council.

Kasyanov’s spokeswoman, Tatyana Razbash, confirmed that the ministers are considering Borodin’s proposal. But, she said, it does not mean the project had won the prime minister’s approval.

Kommersant wrote that, to cover the cost of the project, Borodin proposed a government bond issue that would be repaid from revenues received from leasing existing buildings, which could fetch up to $75 million to $80 million a year.

Sergei Riabokobylko, a partner with Stiles & Riabokobylko, Cushman & Wakefield’s Moscow-based associate for Russia and the CIS, said the fact that the government is evaluating the project is good news for his company, but that details shouldn’t be discussed until "the political decision" is made. He also said that his company’s role is "to ensure the project is profitable."

Cushman & Wakefield has been negotiating the construction of the new parliament with Borodin for almost four years.