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Press review: languishing BRICS, equivalents to PMCs in Syria and alternative to PACE

October 17, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, October 17

1 pages in this article
The leaders of Russia, India and China at the Brics summit in Goa

The leaders of Russia, India and China at the Brics summit in Goa

© AP Photo/Manish Swarup


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: BRICS summit exposes bumps in the road, but members united against terrorism

Following the wrap-up of the BRICS summit in India’s Goa questions are rising about whether the five emerging economies known lately as the key drivers behind global growth still remain as powerful on the international economic and political scene, Nezavisimaya writes on Monday. According to Professor Sergey Lunev of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), "the Americans are doing their best to make BRICS less powerful." "They’ve helped topple Dilma Rousseff (former President of Brazil). Friction between India and China is also the work of the Americans," he said.

Lunev acknowledged that BRICS is now beginning to languish. "The biggest non-western countries belonging to the group, are unsatisfied with their place in the global political and economic system. They want to jointly improve their positions. This requires closer cooperation, but the United States is stirring up dissent between them, and coordination is not enhanced," he told the paper. At least, this year the BRICS member-states have come to an understanding on one problem - terrorism - as all five leaders have unanimously recognized the scourge of terror as a threat to global economy.


Izvestia: Russia eyeing Inter-Parliamentary Union as alternative to PACE

Russian lawmakers are looking carefully at the global inter-parliamentary institution established back in 1889 and bringing together 160 national parliaments and ten regional inter-parliamentary bodies, as an alternative to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) known for its anti-Russia sentiment, Izvestia writes Monday. Chairman of Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev, who has just been appointed member of the IPU’s executive committee, sees the lack of sanctions as a lever of influence as one of the body’s advantages.

"In this respect the Inter-Parliamentary Union is one of the most promising platforms since on the one hand no group of countries holds a majority there, and on the other hand, the United States, which seeks to bend everyone to their will, is not represented there," Kosachev told the newspaper. Meanwhile, behind the back of the United States, Russia is not trying to use its methods, and is not trying to make the Inter-Parliamentary Union its instrument, he added. "This does not mean that in their absence we would do the same, but this does mean that the Americans disturb normal work of any assembly," he said.

However, the politician said, the search for more promising political platforms does not mean that Russia is striving to run them up against traditional parliamentary assemblies. "We’re searching for the assemblies where each national delegation plays a national role as this opens the door to other possibilities for conversation," Kosachev elaborated. According to Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on International Affairs, who will head the Russian State Duma’s (lower house of parliament) group at the upcoming IPU session in Geneva at the end of October, Russia does not expect the institution to replace PACE, or the Parliament Assembly of the OSCE. "We’re bolstering our efforts concerning parliamentary diplomacy within all platforms," he told Izvestia.


Kommersant: AmCham files inquiry into US blacklisting of Russia’s General Board of State Expert Review

The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia has submitted a letter to the US government requesting explanations regarding sanctions imposed against the General Board of State Expert Review (or Glavgosekspertiza), Kommersant business daily writes citing AmCham’s President Alexis Rodzianko. He thinks the restrictive measures may be related to the expert review on the Kerch Strait Bridge.

On September 1, the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the US Treasury (OFAC) blacklisted a number of Russian organizations - including Glavgosekspertiza. The move means a direct ban on taking part in construction and reconstruction projects as developers and technical coordinators at the blueprint stage for US residents, a source in the Goltsblat BLP Law Firm told the newspaper earlier. US residents usually participate in Russia-based construction projects through subsidiaries or affiliates.

According to Rodzianko, the US authorities might have concluded that Russia’s General Board of State Expert Review is one of contractors working on the Kerch Bridge and put it on the sanction list. He added that the AmCham is now trying to clarify whether the sanctions only restrict operations in Crimea or are valid throughout the whole country. A source in Glavgosekspertiza told the newspaper that "the actions by US federal authorities do not affect its operations," and added that should the sanctions "inflict damage, they would protect their rights in line with Russian legislation."


RBC: New legislation on Russian military service contracts

The Russian government has submitted a bill on short-term military contracts required for tackling terrorists outside Russia, to the State Duma (lower house of parliament) due to "changes in the military and political environment". According to RBC, the bill would allow term contracts with those willing to participate in protecting international peace. The document will expand the possibilities where army conscripts may sign short-term contracts. Among those cases are "imposing restrictions on terrorist actions outside Russia" and naval participation in the campaigns. The term of such contracts - previously from six months to one year - may also be shortened, the newspaper writes.

Military experts interviewed by RBC say the bill comes as a result of the need to legalize employees of private military companies in Syria. Also, this may be an attempt to legalize and simplify the operations of the so-called Wagner group, a Russian equivalent of private military companies that is participating in the military conflict in Syria, according to RBC. Also, the law may not only legitimize the existing group, but also form a legal base for similar structures to appear in the future.

Meanwhile, Frants Klintsevich, the First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee for Defense and Security, told the newspaper that the legislation is aimed at tackling short-term missions outside the country. "A need may arise where a unit will exist for 8-9 months and will protect military bases abroad as well as be involved in construction and preparations," he said.


Vedomosti: Bashneft minorities may be left without buyback offer

Russia’s State Duma may allow state-owned companies not to buy out the stakes of other shareholders. Rosneft, which just finalized a deal to privatize 50.07% shares of Bashneft shares for 329.7 bln rubles ($5.2 bln), has to submit an offer to other shareholders of the company by November 17. Two federal officials told Vedomosti that there will be an offer.

The offer has to be submitted based on the two highest prices: the average weighted stock price or the price of the latest transaction, Vedomosti writes. The privatization price was 24% higher than the average stock price for the last half a year. The estimated price of the offer is 218.3 bln rubles, or 76.9 bln rubles without the stake of Bashkiria, which has repeatedly said it would not sell its shares.

However, the State Duma (lower house of parliament) is about to consider a bill, which may allow Rosneft to avoid an offer to minority shareholders. Five out of seven lawyers told Vedomosti that the legislation may be applied to Rosneft if the bill is adopted in its current form. They add that in this case the move may affect the investment climate in Russia.


TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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