Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov intends to create a large ski resort in the republic's southeastern Argun Gorge, which had been a militant stronghold for years, Russian media has said.
Kadyrov announced his plans in early January to develop tourism in the republic, where militant violence has surged in recent months. Recently, he said the Argun Gorge, one of Chechnya's most picturesque areas located on the border with Georgia, could be an ideal place for a ski resort.
"I have just talked to Ramzan Kadyrov. He said there are businessmen who are ready to join the project," the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper quoted Kadyrov's press secretary, Alvi Karimov, as saying.
The president reportedly made the decision to create a Russian Courchevel, a luxury French Alps ski resort, in the volatile republic after he traveled to the gorge in early January accompanied by Russian businessman Ruslan Baysarov and film director Fyodor Bondarchuk.
"First he drove a jeep, then an ATV, and then he went on foot. Finally, he reached the border with Georgia and was amazed by the beauty of the area," Karimov told the paper, adding earlier Kadyrov had visited the gorge only to coordinate operations against militants.
Media reports said the resort was planned to be intended for tourists from all income classes, both Russian and foreign.
In ancient times, the 120-kilometer Argun Gorge, one of the longest in the republic, was Chechnya's major travel route linking it with Georgia, Dagestan and Ossetia. Picturesque rocks, meadows, mountain rivers and lakes, as well as sulphur springs and Medieval watch towers have attracted people to the area.
However, the gorge had also been a stronghold for Chechen militants during the two separatist wars in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The republic has been recently swept by a fresh wave of violence. Shootouts and attacks on troops, police and other officials have been reported daily. The neighboring, mainly Muslim, regions of Russia have also been plagued by instability.
MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti)