MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Russia’s government will employ a company belonging to an ally of President Vladimir Putin to build a bridge connecting mainland Russia to the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine last year.
A government order, posted on its website on Friday, named Stroygazmontazh (SGM) as the contractor to build the bridge across the Kerch Strait and said the project should be completed no later than December 2018.
It said SGM, owned by Putin’s childhood judo partner Arkady Rotenberg, was “one of Russia’s leading holding companies engaged in the construction of oil and gas, transport and maritime sectors”.
Rotenberg, 63, was among the first Russian businessmen to be put under Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis
SGM, 51-percent owned by Rotenberg, saw revenues surge after its creation in 2008 from several units sold by state-controlled gas producer Gazprom. It has previously won government contracts and laid pipes for Gazprom and others.
Rotenberg has said his business success has nothing to do with his relationship with Putin. (Reporting by Anton Zverev, Writing by Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Timothy Heritage)