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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Far Eastern Island to Become Special Economic Zone

Government.ruPutin visiting Vladivostok to oversee APEC preparations in October 2009.

The impoverished Russky island in the Far East will be developed as a special economic zone to promote tourism after it hosts the 2012 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday.

Preparations for the summit have turned Russky Island into the country's second-biggest construction project, following work for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But the government has been struggling to find a use once the summit is over for the hotels, conference centers and other infrastructure being built on the lightly populated island.

Initially, the state considered locating one of four federal gambling zones there. In 2008, it was decided that Russky would be turned into a university center for the Russian Academy of Science's branch in the Far East.

Putin personally visited the island in October to inspect preparations, which have been plagued by delays and fears of cost overruns. He said at the time that the government would not cut the 202 billion rubles ($6.9 billion) in federal money allotted for APEC-related construction.

The single largest construction project for the summit is a 3.1-kilometer bridge connecting Russky, which is home to about 5,000 people, with the Primorye region capital of Vladivostok.

Speaking at a government meeting Wednesday, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina told Putin that the island — which was closed to visitors during the Soviet period — had "lots of potential for tourism [and] a spectacular location," according to a transcript posted on the government web site.