Moscow, Russia – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev this week is moving forward with a $15 billion plan to develop five ski resorts and associated infrastructure in the North Caucasus.nThe region between the Black and Caspian Seas, which includes the republic of Chechnya, has been the scene of separatist rebellion and insurgent attacks since 2007. Since last spring, Medvedev has touted economic development as the solution to the region’s strife, and ski resorts as the vehicle for that development.
Plans drawn up under the guidance of Alexander Khloponin, the Russian President’s envoy to the North Caucasian Federal District, call for building two airports, highways and other infrastructure in addition to the five ski resorts. Officials expect to break ground next year, with build-out anticipated by 2020.
The resorts would be built in Matlas, Dagestan; Mamison, North Ossetia; Arkhyz, Karachayevo-Cherkessia; Lago-Naki, Adygeya; and on Mount Elbrus in Kabardino-Balkaria, and are said to be Medvedev’s idea. Medvedev himself is a skier, and vacationed in January at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort in Sochi, Russia, home to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
The public-private partnership will be funded in part by outside investors. The government touts Credit Suisse, the beleaguered financial giant involved in numerous failed ski resort projects around the world, as one of the first to show interest, followed by investors from the United Arab Emirates. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the country’s Finance Ministry was ready to provide 70 percent guarantees to bank loans funding the projects.
Despite the region’s unique natural beauty and substantial snowfall, only about one million tourists visit the area annually, a number stifled by the current insurgent activity.