Russia unveils world's longest bridge for landmark summit


Russia on Monday unveiled the world's longest cable-stayed bridge as it put the finishing touches on a troubled multi-billion investment aimed at revitalising the country's distant Far East.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened the 1,104-metre (3,622-foot) link from Vladivostok to Russky Island during a personal spot-check of preparations for hosting September's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

"Everything that we have been doing here in recent years is obviously linked to the summit," Medvedev said in televised remarks from the Far East.

"But we are not doing it for the summit. We are doing it for you -- for those who live here."

Russia is spending $20 billion (16 billion euros) in pursuit of its Soviet-era dream of turning the port into a Russian version of San Francisco to attract massive investment and rival China's growing dominance.

Politicians have long voiced fears that a dwindling population and a minimal production base will see Russia one day forced to give up the Far East territory.

Preparations for the event however have been beset by problems and huge cost overruns that only seemed to underscore the bureaucracy and waste stunting Russia's economic growth.

The gleaming span over the Eastern Bosphorus -- dubbed "the bridge to nowhere" by critical local media -- was hit by a serious fire during its final construction phase this winter.

Several new regional highways have experienced periodic cave-ins and Medvedev on Monday also personally toured a road that partially washed away after a heavy rain last month.

Russia's premier had avidly promoted modernisation while serving as president in the past four years and sounded a clear note of irony as he complemented constructors and engineers on their work.

"Unfortunately, we might not know how to build houses," said Medvedev. "But we can certainly build structures like this."

The title of world's longest cable-stayed bridge had previously been held by Sutong Bridge that spans the Yangtze River in China.

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