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Russian draft law proposes anonymity for some Crimea investors wary of sanctions

MOSCOW, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Russia’s Economy Ministry said on Wednesday it had drawn up legislation designed to boost investment in the annexed Crimea peninsula, including by granting anonymity to some investors to try to shield them from the threat of Western sanctions.

The bill, if approved, would allow Russians making capital investments of more than 150 million roubles ($1.97 million) in Crimea to keep their personal information confidential.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine, prompting a flurry of economic sanctions from Western countries.

U.S. and European Union sanctions bar American and European citizens and companies from investing in Crimea, making it risky or even impossible for major international companies to do business on the peninsula.

Russian authorities have invested heavily in linking the peninsula to southern Russia, including by building a road and rail bridge. But the region’s economy remains fragile and is heavily dependent on tourism, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an explanatory note, the ministry said the draft legislation aimed to accelerate the socio-economic development of Crimea by making it more attractive to investment.

Deputy Economy Minister Ilya Torosov said the proposed legislation “takes into account the region’s special geopolitical position”.

In order to pass, the draft legislation would have to be backed in three readings in the lower house of parliament, approved by the upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. ($1 = 76.1900 roubles) (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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