- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What happens in Crimea stays in Crimea, if top officials of the Black Sea peninsula now claimed by Russia has anything to say about it.

Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov announced that construction work will start later this year on a “gambling zone” targeting international visitors near the port city of Yalta, according to the Russian news service TASS. One thrust of the proposed “Las Vegas on the Black Sea” will be to skirt the international economic sanctions imposed after Russia seized control of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“There are certain arrangements that will make it possible [for investors] to bypass the sanctions,” Mr. Aksyonov told the news service, according to a report Monday in the news website Russia Beyond the Headlines (rbth.com).

“I will keep quiet about such secrets for now. Nobody will agree to invest in this project if there were doubts this plan might not work,” the prime minister added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation authorizing the gambling zone in July 2014, just five months after a widely criticized referendum in which Crimean residents overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Officials say they hope to open the betting sector by 2019.

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