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Long-Term Plan Drafted for Caucasus

A draft of a Kremlin policy plan for the North Caucasus warns that terrorism and ethnic tension will haunt the restive region for years to come without a major injection of investment, media reports said.

A long-term development strategy for the North Caucasus will be unveiled this week when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party meets in the region, his spokesman said.

A 150-page draft of the development blueprint says that even if all existing programs are successful, without additional investment "ethnic tension and terrorism will remain the region's distinguishing feature," Russian Newsweek reported Friday.

In addition, the gap between rich and poor and the region's technological backwardness "will grow, and the business climate will not improve," the strategy paper warns, according to the magazine.

It cited the document as saying the "optimal scenario" — in which the regional economy nearly triples in size and wages more than double — would require investments to "flow like a river" after a period of careful preparation over the next two years.

The blueprint proposes major investment until 2025 in banking, small businesses, ski tourism and technology, according to Russian Newsweek and Vedomosti, which said they had obtained copies.

The plan was prepared by Medvedev's envoy to the North Caucasus, Alexander Khloponin, whose spokeswoman Natalya Platonova said Friday that substantial changes had been made to the document cited by the media.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the version cited in the media "partially corresponds" to the document submitted to the government by the Regional Development Ministry.

United Russia is to meet this week in Nalchik, capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria republic.

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