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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Allies to Build Sports and IT Town

The little-known Sport Fund, whose board is headed by Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov and stocked with close allies of President Vladimir Putin, is to build a vast residential complex dubbed Info-City in the Moscow suburb of Zelenograd, one of the government's high-tech special economic zones.

The complex will provide high-rise housing for "Olympic champions and other honored Russians," including promising students and IT specialists, and come with a price tag of $6 billion, Kommersant reported Thursday, citing Borodino holding company, one of the potential developers of the project.

The 2 million-square-meter complex will include three 97-story towers and several 50- to 60-story towers, as well as schools and hospitals, Kommersant reported.

"It will be a mini-town that will embrace activities from all spheres of life," Sport Fund president Viktor Galayev said by telephone Thursday. The project may feature skyscrapers, sports facilities and "a very good science program," Galayev said.

The details of the project are still being hammered out and it is expected to receive approval in November, he said, declining to be more specific. He said only that investors for the project had been found, and that it would not rely on money from the state or Rosoboronexport. "These are Chemezov's social activities," Galayev added.

The Sport Fund was set up in 2005 to promote a healthy lifestyle and "spiritual advancement," according to its web site.

Its board of trustees reads like a veritable who's who of top state officials.

Apart from Chemezov, the board includes Putin aides Igor Shuvalov and Sergei Prikhodko; Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev; Russian Olympic Committee chief Leonid Tyagachyov; IT and Communication Minister Leonid Reiman; Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin; Vneshtorgbank chief Andrei Kostin and Vneshekonombank chief Vladimir Dmitriyev.

A spokesman for Rosoboronexport confirmed the project was in the works but referred all questions to Galayev.

Kommersant cited Tigran Nersisyan, president of the Borodino holding company, as saying the complex would cost $6 billion. Vnesheconombank and Vneshtorgbank would be the project's main investors, the newspaper said, without citing anyone.

But Borodino spokeswoman Yulia Belousova on Thursday declined to confirm the report, saying only that "half" of it was incorrect.

"It will be a new center of science and education," Belousova said, adding the Russian Academy of Sciences would also be involved. An architect working on the project was using the concept of an "information boom," Belousova said. She declined to give further details ahead of a planned presentation on the project next month.

Galayev and Lev Zolotov, the fund's vice president, said Thursday that the $6 billion price tag was inaccurate. Investment would still be considerable but "nobody has made any calculations yet," Zolotov said by telephone.

Last year, Zelenograd was picked as one of the government's four special economic zones dedicated to the development of high-tech industries.