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PRESS TOP 5: Wednesday, September 21

September 21, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Finding solutions to Syria crisis, terrorists' cash, progressive tax rate and Russia's Far East development

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Alexander Scherbak/TASS


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: UN General Assembly focuses on Middle East

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in his speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, will dwell upon the need to consolidate international efforts to take on new challenges on the basis of international law, in the midst of a rising terrorist threat, a source in the delegation told the Nezavisimaya. The issue of adopting additional measures for creating a united agenda will be considered, the source said, as it is only possible to find solutions to the current crises - the biggest one being Syria - by combined efforts.

Sergey Lavrov has already met US Secretary of State John Kerry behind closed doors, the newspaper said. On Wednesday, a special meeting devoted to the ongoing Middle Eastern crisis will be held in New York.

Meanwhile, the ceasefire in Syria agreed by Russian and the United States has only lasted for one week as neither side has stated its intention to extend the truce agreement following its expiration on September 12.


RBC: Why neither Russia, nor US can act as go-between in Syria

Following the latest incidents, Moscow and Washington will most likely find it impossible to convince their allies in the conflict zone to follow any agreements, a professor at Russia's Higher School of Economics Leonid Isayev wrote in his op-ed piece in RBC business daily on Wednesday. The shelling of the UN’s joint humanitarian convoy and the Syrian Red Crescent near Aleppo on September 19, with 18 out of 31 vehicles destroyed or damaged, and a strike by US aircraft in the area of Deir ez-Zor have seriously complicated relations between Washington and Moscow. According to Isayev, the recent developments have made it next to impossible to extend the Syrian truce agreement at least in the near future.

The expert doubts the incident in Deir ez-Zor was the result of a targeted strike on Syria’s government forces as an act of assistance to the Islamic State. First of all, the US Air Force had always acted on the contact line between the Syrian army and the Islamic State, where the probability of error is much higher than on the contender’s home front. Second, the US had informed Russia about all its actions in the area beforehand in accordance with the Geneva agreements, Isayev noted, adding that he sees no hope for Moscow and Washington to agree on a ceasefire and calls it "an impossible mission."



Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Terrorists’ cash flow poses major threat to Russia’s security

Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Financial Monitoring Pavel Livadny believes that the main security risk for Russia now comes from financing terrorism, he said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. "We’ve seen a sharp surge in online requests by citizens (agents) on social media for fundraising activities under various pretexts. This is related to vigorous propaganda by Islamic State," he said. "The threat is that very small amounts of money are requested - from 100 to 1,000 rubles, but eventually huge sums are collected," Livadny said, adding that terrorists are seeking to avoid complicated schemes and work with cash and cash transfers.

According to the Deputy Director, a potential terrorist in Russia happens to be "integrated into society to an adequate degree, speaks Russian and has a legal job." The Federal Service for Financial Monitoring has created a closed list of extremists, and added more than 1,500 people to it over the past year, Livadny said.


Vedomosti: Return to progressive personal income tax presents risks

Amid the rising need to fill budget gaps, talk of raising personal income taxes in Russia has revived recently. Following Tuesday’s statement by the Speaker of the Sixth Duma Sergey Naryshkin on the potential of linking tax rates to income levels experts warn that the measure is difficult to implement and may not yield much revenues, Vedomosti business daily writes Wednesday.

So far, the said initiative raises more questions than answers, an official in the government’s financial and economic bloc told the newspaper. The decision to resurrect to the progressive tax scale from the currently effective flat individual income tax rate of 13% is hard to administer, he added. It also bears risks that companies may return to the practice of paying salaries under the table, Vedomosti writes.

According to Alexandra Suslina from the Economic Expert Group, the progressive tax will not bring in serious budget revenues. In order to obtain a substantial increase in budget revenues in the regions, the tax hike will be applied to the middle class, which is the main trigger of economic growth. The progressive scale of personal income tax will make rich regions even richer, Suslina added.

On Tuesday, Naryshkin said that the introduction of different taxation levels linked to income may be considered, provided that there are estimations on whether losses come about as a result of such measures, adding that this is his personal opinion. In 2013, President Putin did not rule out a return to the progressive scale of personal income tax. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the change could not have taken place before 2018 presidential elections.


Izvestia: Residents of Russia’s southern regions may move to Far East

The migration commission at the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations has prepared proposals on the exodus of people from regions with an excess labor force to areas facing a lack of labor power, Izvestia daily writes with reference to the commission’s head Aslambek Paskachev. "We have to work our territories, we have to inhabit depopulated areas with our citizens," he said. "Many people have flown out of the Far East over the past 25 years. This outflow needs to be replenished. We need people if we are to create a priority development area," he explained.

The plan is to move citizens from certain regions in Central Russia, the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasus. According to Paskachev, up to 1 mln people living in Russia’s south are ready to move. Easy loans on property, higher wages and a developed infrastructure may help attract more professionals to the Far East, he added. The draft project may be submitted to the President this October.


TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in press reviews

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