Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev visits Crimea
Simferopol: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday became the first Russian leader to visit Crimea since Moscow seized the Black Sea region from Ukraine, promising to shower economic benefits on the area to make it flourish.
Medvedev toured Crimea`s main city Simferopol at the head of a major delegation of cabinet ministers and deputy prime ministers, and was set to later visit Russia`s Black Sea fleet base in Sevastopol.
He vowed to raise the level of salaries for municipal employees and pensions to average Russian levels and to modernise the region`s hospitals, which he said were outdated.
Medvedev also announced that Crimea would become a "special economic zone", designed to attract investors with lower tax rates.
"As a result of joining Russia, not one resident of Crimea, not one resident of Sevastopol should lose anything. They can only gain," Medvedev promised at a special cabinet meeting held in Crimea.
Local officials, including Crimean prime minister Sergei Aksyonov, were also present at the meeting that was aired live on Russian state television.
Medvedev said the officials had come to "assess the situation and the scale of tasks ahead of us, and of course just to talk to the residents of the peninsula and support them."
"That`s what people want from us: creating conditions for calm dignified life, confidence in tomorrow and a feeling that they are part of a strong country. We must justify those expectations," Medvedev said, speaking in front of a Russian flag.
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