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Riga City Council does not mind having city’s overpass designed by authors of Crimean Bridge

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUInternational sanctions do not seem to be an obstacle for Riga City Council to continue working with a firm that designed the bridge that now connects Russia and Crimea. The same company now takes part in the design project of a new overpass in Riga. However, Riga City Council’s Transport Department does not believe cooperation with the firm that designed the Crimean Bridge should be ceased, as reported by Nekā personīga.

The programme reminds that to punish Russia for the occupation of Crimea and to put an end to the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Europe, USA and other western countries established sanctions against many Russia high-ranking officials, as well as companies associated with Russia’s most important industries – finances, defence and energy. Sanctions were also applied to companies that designed and built the Crimean Bridge.

«15 May 2018. Kerch Strait. Russian television excitedly announces the arrival of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the bridge that now connects Russia and Crimea. He shook hands with builders and designers; congratulated them with a job well-done. He then stepped on board of an orange Kamaz and drove on the bridge as part of the opening ceremony. All this was shown by the main Russian television channels as though it was the 9 May Victory Parade,» the programme describes the footage.

Continuing: «There is another man who stands with Putin. It is the billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, who is closely associated with the president and added to sanction lists of USA and Europe. It was his company that built the bridge. He and his brother Boris got their hands on many massive projects financed by the Russian Federation. Rotenberg’s company also manufactures pipelines for Gazprom. They constructed objects for Sochi Olympics for seven billion. Rotenberg family owns Russian SMP Bank, which had a subsidiary in Latvia in the past. His brother Boris and son Roman managed to avoid sanctions thanks to their Finnish citizenship. Their family still owns a company in Latvia. This company owns a fancy villa called Safiri in Garkalne.»

Russian television was proud to present the Crimean Bridge to the world as proof of the skill of Russian engineers, architects and builders. The bridge is also actively used as a symbol of political propaganda, NP notes.

The programme mentions that two years ago, when the bridge’s design and construction process picked up speed, US Finance Ministry imposed sanctions against the companies that designed and built the Crimean Bridge. Among those companies was also Institut Giprostrojmost from St Petersburg. US officials were direct: «Russia’s bridge construction is proof of this country’s readiness to ignore international laws». Two years ago NATO also condemned the bridge’s construction and announced in May that by continuing this project Russia demonstrates disrespect for international laws.

In July 2018, European Union published a list with names of companies that have become toxic after the construction the Crimean Bridge. Giprostrojmost is among them. This means Latvia is not allowed to work with it, NP explains.

The programme also reports that St Petersburg-based Institut Giprostrojmost was founded in 1968. It has participated in the largest road construction projects in Russia. Aside from the Crimean Bridge, recent projects implemented by this company include the construction of roads for Sochi Olympics and the project on Yamal Peninsula, where Russia is currently building a liquefied gas production facility.

Additionally, NP reports that it has determined this company’s ties with Latvia that have existed since 2000. «The company’s website mentions as much. This company had assisted with designing the Southern Bridge. This was followed by work on the first phase of repair work on the Island Bridge. According to Latvian L4 company, they lacked information at the time. To comply with the tender’s requirements, designers from Russia were invited. Together they formed Island Bridge partnership. It was liquidated in 2011. Since then they’ve had no dealings with Giprostrojmost.»

«Giprostrojmost had also founded a subsidiary in Latvia. The company is no longer present in the country: representatives of the company had left the office building three years ago, however,» the company reports.

NP also reports that the company included on sanction lists of USA and Europe still continues its work in Riga. «A couple of years ago, Riga City Council started looking for designers for a new overpass that would connect one of the eastern highway’s sections – Piedruja Street – with Gustava Zemgala Gatve. G.B.V. applied for the tender and won it in 2016. This association consists of two Latvian companies and Giprostrojmost.»

Latvian firm Vektors T and its director told Nekā personīga that work with Russian colleagues still continues. «Vektors T is aware of their involvement in the construction of Crimean Bridge. However, they do not see this as an obstacle. Security institutions have not provided them with any warnings. Money transfers also continue unhindered.»

«Igor Kolishev – the technical director of the St Petersburg firm – still has a valid 2004-issued certificate, allowing him to work on bridge designs in Latvia.» As NP found from Latvian Construction Engineers Union, some two weeks ago a representative of the Russian firm was provided with a new certificate for provision of services in Latvia.

«Riga City Council chairman [Nils Ušakovs] could not provide a clear answer if it is right for the city council to cooperate with designers of the Crimean Bridge. The head of the city council’s Transport Department, meanwhile, believes sanctions do not apply to them at all. The contract with the firm was signed before sanctions. All the laws are on the city council’s side,» NP reports.

Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has provided NP with a different opinion. «If someone in Latvia continues working with companies under sanctions, it may result in criminal liability. Municipalities, municipal enterprises and Large City Cities Association were informed by the ministry on how they should act after implementation of European sanctions in summer this year.»

NP found out that the company from Russia mentioned on its website that it was involved in another transport project – the overpass in Sarkandaugava. «Riga City Council claimed that Giprostrojmost is not involved in work there. Nevertheless, visual designs can still be found on their website,» the programme adds.


Leave a reply to Zerry

  1. Zerry says:

    City Council accepts whatever needed if the motivation will be done right way?

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