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30 Apr, 2010 08:00

Russian Silicon Valley to be corruption free

President Dmitry Medvedev is pledging unprecendented privileges for companies joining the International Innovation Centre in Skolkovo, adding that corruption will be stamped on.

Russia’s making moves to develop a hi-tech economy. At a meeting on modernization, Medvedev offered big incentives for innovative firms to join a new hub.

“Tax breaks are a key issue for business. Skolkovo residents will pay no profit tax, VAT or property tax for ten years.”

The Russian government will fund the lion’s share of the site, including housing for 30,000 residents. But the track record isn’t good – with previous efforts ending in failure. Dmitry Medvedev admits the billions of dollars thrown at hi-tech so far have not produced a single world-class product. So this time they’re being more careful.

Only the most promising proposals will be bankrolled, Russia’s Finance Minister told this channel. In charge of the project will be Victor Vekselberg, a successful businessman rather than a bureaucrat. He pledged Skolkovo will avoid the kickbacks common in state projects.

“Corruption is a big problem for Russia, but I believe Skolkovo will be able to escape from that environment.”

Medvedev’s colleagues say he’s set on making Skolkovo work. The President himself is helping to draw up the bill creating the project, which goes to parliament next month.