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Press review: Russia's response to US in Syria, 2017 budget and UK foreign policy course

October 05, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, October 5

1 pages in this article
© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS


Izvestia: Defense Ministry gearing up to respond to US actions in Syria

Russia might significantly boost fire support for the Syrian armed forces in response to potential US military action after the termination of talks on Syria, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defense and Security, Franz Klintsevich told Izvestia. At the same time, a high-ranking source in military and diplomatic circles told the newspaper, that the Russian Ministry of Defense had drawn up a comprehensive plan, which includes military and political measures both in Syria and beyond. According to experts, Washington is primarily preparing to increase the supply of weapons to opposition groups.

"We set our diplomacy against the Americans’ "plan B" and, if necessary, we can significantly increase fire support to the Syrian Armed Forces. The General Staff also has special plans to combat terrorists, as they will pay more attention to our units and bases in Syria than the national Armed Forces," Klintsevich told Izvestia.

The legislator noted those US officials’ statements about the determination by Moscow and Damascus to employ a "military course" is a signal to the militants to become more active. However, the Russian military, according to him, is ready for this.

"We have developed a package of military and political measures in case the US withdraws from the talks on Syria and transitions to the so-called "plan B", which, in particular, might include bolstering support for the anti-government forces in Syria," a source in the Defense Ministry familiar with situation told the newspaper. The source, however, noted that it is too early to divulge the details of the Russian strategy.

Maxim Shepovalenko, an expert from the Strategy and Technology Analysis Center told Izvestia that Russia might take additional measures to its strengthen air defense system and radio-electronic warfare.


Kommersant: Budget 2017 sees no hikes in tax rates, but pushes for timely payments

Thanks to the Finance Ministry’s proposal to the government, there will be no hikes in the income tax rate, VAT and other taxes, at least in 2017 and possibly for the next three years, according to the Ministry’s "Guidelines for Fiscal Policy" for 2017-2019 obtained by Kommersant.

So, increasing income tax rates will be put off for another year at least. In 2017, the Finance Ministry will be counting on new state debt and hikes in excise duties on tobacco, wine and fuel.

The Ministry is particularly concerned about "the impact of activities by consolidated taxpayers groups on regional budgets." The low predictability of revenues from this tax was problematic for the regions as companies made the decisions regarding consolidated taxpayers groups without informing the regions. "It is logical that the Finance Ministry wants to change this practice," the newspaper said.

Thus, the effective rate on profit tax is expected to increase for large companies and consolidated taxpayers group. The Finance Ministry is putting forward a prohibition on companies from reducing the tax base by more than 30% of the current-year profit through losses of previous years.

Edward Savulyak, director of the Moscow office of Tax Consulting UK, an international consulting firm told Kommersant that the amount of payments from introducing these restrictions might grow by more than 50%.

According to Kommersant, "the Finance Ministry also intends to fight to step up taxpayers’ discipline by increasing penalties." The Ministry proposed to almost double them - from 1/300 to 1/180 of the refinancing rate of the Central Bank simultaneously "improving conditions for timely payment of taxes and levies."


Kommersant: Boris Johnson adopts anti-Russian rhetoric

Boris Johnson’s speech at the congress of the ruling Conservative Party was the first detailed presentation of the May administration’s foreign policy objectives. According to the speech, Britain’s new top diplomat has taken on the role of chief antagonist to Moscow, as the escalation of the conflict in Syria has led to a redistribution of roles in the relationship between Russia and the West, according to Kommersant.

In a recent statement, Foreign Minister Johnson called Russia's actions in Syria a "war crime" thereby exacerbating relations between Moscow and London. This comes just a month after the first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the UK’s new Prime Minister Theresa May. According to experts interviewed by Kommersant, hopes of resetting Russian-British relations after the departure of Prime Minister David Cameron were not justified. Moreover, the traditionally anti-Russian policy of London is becoming more unpredictable and problematic for Moscow.

"The nature of the Russian-British relations will not change, so there is no reason to rely on constructive and positive changes," Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, the Higher School of Economics Timofey Bordachev told the newspaper. Moreover, according to the expert, "the situation is aggravated by the continuing uncertainty regarding the question of when and under what conditions Great Britain will be forced to leave the European Union, which makes their foreign policy less predictable."


RBC: Rosneft gets green light to participate in Bashneft privatization

On October 1, Rosneft’s Board of Directors approved a "major deal", the company’s press service stated, without disclosing any details. A representative of the oil company told RBC that the Board of Directors gave the green light to participation in Bashneft’s privatization.

Rosneft Press Secretary Mikhail Leontiev declined to comment. However, on Friday he confirmed that Rosneft was interested in Bashneft’s privatization on the background of the government's decision to resume privatization following its postponement in mid-August.

Bashneft’s 50.08% stake was estimated by Ernst & Young at the government’s directive at 297-315 bln rubles ($4.74 bln - $5.03 bln). Purchasing the state stake in Bashneft will help Rosneft add stocks and increase production of hydrocarbons, which, respectively, will boost the company’s capitalization.

The offer by Rosneft, which has the ability to pay more than $5 bln for the assets is the "most attractive" proposal, according to former Energy Minister Igor Yusufov, owner of Energia fund.

After selling the state stake in Bashneft to Rosneft, the government might also sell 19.5% in Rosneft at a premium. The government did not clarify, when a decree on privatization of these companies will be published. However, the Finance Ministry has already proposed including all the proceeds from the sale of Rosneft shares to the budget. An Energy Ministry representative told RBC that the proposal is now being hammered out on orders of the government.


Izvestia: "Fountain of Youth" may be found in Moscow

Biophysicist Alexey Karnaukhov is planning a clinical operation next week, the long-term consequences of which might change the ideas about the possibilities of the human body and its anti-aging potential. Previously, Karnaukhov achieved successful results on animals. The scientist told Izvestia that the exact date will be set after additional medical examination.

Karnaukhov’s successful experiments on mice resulted in prolonging their life by 34%. According to the scientist, aging is associated with a constant process of accumulating damages in the DNA of every cell of our bodies. He believes that it is not necessary to correct the genetic errors that have accumulated in the cells for years, but to slow down the process of the growth itself. This can be done through removing a set of human stem cells at a relatively young age, and then placing them in a cryobank. Several years later, these cells would be transplanted back into an aged organism.

Karnaukhov said he is ready to become the first man to test the technology. "The experiment is not to take out the bone marrow, but to put these cells back into the body in 10 years and see what happens," The biophysicist told the newspaper. For doctors the operation is an experiment only in terms of technology. "After all, Karnaukhov sees his goal not only in benefiting himself, but also in paving the way for other people," Izvestia said.

Karnaukhov in 65 years - the estimated age of the reverse transplantation - will look 55 - the age of taking the bone material.

He said the chances of a successful completion of the experiment are very high: 95-97%. Any failure might be due only to some accident - in the cryobank, or losing cell material, breaking the flask, and so forth.

The scientist expects to live at least 10 years longer than he would have without the procedure.


/TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews./

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