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Silicon Valley planned for Russia's North Caucasus

Solar energy is set to join Soviet cinema and ski centers at the heart of a new-look North Caucasus.

Plans have been put forward to create a Caucasian Silicon Valley, at a cost of 32 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) as part of on-going efforts to generate opportunities in the troubled Russian region.

The existing mountainous valleys of the Southern Russian region, pictured above, could be transformed into innovative industrial hubs under the inter-regional project put forward earlier this week at the council of heads of missions in the North Caucasus Federal District, and is set to go to Alexander Khloponin by the end of the month.

Silicon dreams

While the US Silicon Valley is a world leader in computing and IT advances, the Russian version will focus on making the raw materials.

In Stavropol Region factories will produce polycrystalline silicon, monocrystalline silicon is planned in Kabardino-Balkaria, multicrystalline silicon will come from Karachay-Cherkessia while North Ossetia will manufacture photovoltaic cells and Dagestan will work on solar modules, RIA Novosti reported.

The idea seems to come closer to Ramzan Kadyrov's stated commitment to make Chechnya financially independent by developing a manufacturing base.

And it may also appease those concerned that local traditions would be lost in a tourist influx by switching the focus of economic rebirth away from service industries.

Innovation culture

The plans also chime with President Dmitry Medvedev's long-standing commitment to developing an innovation-based economy which can wean Russia off its financial dependence on oil and gas.

The much-heralded Skolkovo innovation park has been seen as the flagship of this plan, but yesterday saw the announcement of tax breaks for other Russian technology zones.

Special economic zones in Moscow's Zelenograd, Moscow Region's Dubna, and in St. Petersburg and Tomsk, could all benefit from zero income tax from 2012 to 2018, Interfax reported.

Tax concessions have already been approved in the North Caucasus in an attempt to stimulate inward investment.

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