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15 Mar, 2018 15:16

Putin inspects Crimean bridge as Bridge the Cat inspects the president

Russian President Vladimir Putin toured the construction site of the bridge which will connect Crimea with mainland Russia. While talking to workers, Putin also endured the scrutiny of the project’s mascot.

The construction of the Crimean bridge is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects Russia is currently involved it. The 19km-long structure has two separate parts: one is a four-lane road for automobiles and another one is a two-track railway. Two 35-meter-high, 227-meter-long arches allow ships to pass under the bridge.

On Wednesday, the construction site was toured by President Putin, who was curious whether the automobile part of the project would be ready ahead of schedule. The plan is to finish open traffic by the end of 2018, but the president said it would be good if tourists wishing to visit Crimea this summer could come to the peninsula by car. “We are trying,” responded the deputy head of the developer, Leonid Ryshenkin, who supervises the project.

While Putin was complimenting the workers and managers for pulling off something that Russia had repeatedly tried to accomplish for centuries, the president himself was subjected to closer scrutiny. The ginger cat mascot of the bridge, named Mostik, or Little Bridge in Russian, came to see what all the fuss was about. A photo of the historic visit was posted later on the cat’s official Instagram account.

The completion of the enormous bridge is eagerly awaited by Crimeans, especially in view of the Ukrainian economic blockade. The controversial economic move was justified by some in Kiev by the hopes that worse living standards would force the Crimean people, who voted to join Russian in a March 2014 referendum, to revolt against Moscow and return to Ukraine. The theory has proven to be a false hope. In the meantime, Russia has been actively restoring the region’s neglected infrastructure, starting with the roads, and already connected Crimea’s power grid and communication lines with the mainland. The twin bridge is now set to be completed by the end of 2019 at the latest.