Kansas City business people keep an eye on crisis in Russia

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You’ve seen and heard news from the East in the headlines for months. Protests in Ukraine started in November when that government announced it was seeking closer ties with Russia. In February, the Ukrainian president fled his country and sought refuge in Russia.

After he was ousted, Russian troops invaded Crimea, a region of South Ukraine. Thursday, the Russian Lower Parliament signed a treaty to make Crimea a part of the Russian Federation.

There are many people in that region both for and against those moves. Some business people in Kansas City also say they have reason to keep an eye on the developments.

Tamra Knapp is a co-owner of TK Architects International in Kansas City, Mo. The company specializes in entertainment architecture and designs movie theaters. Knapp traveled to Russia earlier this month.

“It was an interesting time to be in Moscow. The whole time we were there, we were getting alerts from the embassy saying don't go here, stay out of public places. It's always a little uncomfortable going to Russia. The people don't smile, it just seems like their lives are harder,” she said.

Knapp hopes business will grow.

“We would like to go forward because of our investment, but I don't want to go over to Russia and have a guy with a machine gun waiting for me either,” she said.

Jack Muffoletto works with Knapp and also visited Russia.

“It's a special thing for us. We happen to notice this little pocket of the world that needs movie theaters and we happen to specialize in designing movie theaters. We're still able to communicate with people there but as far as the future and what the business might be there, don't really know,” Muffoletto said.

He too hopes the company’s investments will offer returns despite the current crisis.

“We've spent a lot of time and effort and money working on that for the last several years, so we want to be able to get in there and help these people out,” he said.

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