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Closed cities could become special economic zones -- Gref

KRASNOYARSK, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Closed cities can turn into special economic zones once their status is lifted, the economic development and trade minister said Friday.

"Enterprises within such cities cannot claim the status of a special economic zone, but the cities can once their status is lifted," German Gref said at a meeting in Krasnoyarsk. The meeting discussed the establishment of free economic zones and the reform of closed cities, which are off limits to anyone without a permit.

According to the minister, some decisions have to be prepared to lift the status and replace federal budget subsidies with commercial investment.

Closed zones could remain within enterprises, Gref said. He added that the meeting had discussed some promising investment projects and also focused on the most acute problems. He said some instructions would be given soon.

Gref said that once the closed city status had been lifted, conditions would be created to attract investment and use the cities' great potential. Currently, all closed cities were being audited to decide on their status, Gref said.

Today, there are 43 closed cities in Russia.

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