Russia’s main goal in the current political climate is to recover and foster relations between the two countries, not rupture them by denouncing the so-called "Great Friendship Treaty", according to a letter by Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov to State Duma (lower house of parliament) deputies, to which Izvestia has access.
"We share concerns about the events on the border with Crimea and other anti-Russian activities by the current Ukrainian government. However, the proposed initiative of denouncing the agreement is premature and not entirely justified under the current circumstances," Lavrov stated.
"Evidently, our potential exit from "the Big Treaty" is unlikely to contribute to solving the problems that have accumulated in the Russian-Ukrainian relations as a result of Kiev's exploits. In this regard, Russia’s current chief objective would be to implement actions aimed at preserving bilateral relations, not breaking them; to create conditions for recovery and active development of friendly relations between the two countries and their people," the minister said in his letter.
The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was signed in May 1997. In late 2008, the agreement was extended for 10 years.
The latest Normandy Four talks may have not presented a breakthrough, but are vital in the long run to achieving peace, analysts tell Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Experts, interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, are generally reserved towards the results of the meeting in Berlin.
President of the Institute for Strategic Assessments Alexander Konovalov told the newspaper, the main result of the negotiations is the very fact that they were held at all. "Putin and Poroshenko have not been seen at the same table for a long time. However, there still were no real big advances towards implementing Minsk-2. The parties still have not managed to develop a mechanism that will serve as a safeguard, which would prevent the low-intensity conflict from escalating into a major war in Europe," Konovalov explained.
According to Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities, Alexander Gushin, the Minsk agreements are far from perfect and cannot generally lead to a final peace. "Whatever the parties have said in August about meaninglessness of the Normandy format, it has not exhausted itself, as there are no alternatives. In that sense, the fact of the meeting in Berlin is undoubtedly positive. Today we can talk about the tactical success on both sides, but not a strategic breakthrough," he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta
Gushin added that the relationship with Europe is very important for Russia. "Putin's trip to Berlin was necessary not only to resolve the situation in the south-east of Ukraine, but also to maintain the overall relations with Europe," he said, adding that the new stage of hopes for a breakthrough in Donbass will appear only after the European elections in 2017.
The Berlin-hosted meeting is the group’s fourth since 2014, as the Normandy Quartet clinched an agreement on establishing four new disengagement zones in Donbass. However, the issue of the functions and powers of the OSCE mission in Donbass was not sorted out, and there was no progress on stopping the growing number of ceasefire violations. The "quartet", however, was united in understanding the inevitability of the Minsk agreements.
A Russian lunar rover might be designed as part of the moon exploration program, adopted earlier by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Space Council, Head of the Department of Nuclear Planetology of the RAS Space Research Institute Igor Mitrofanov told Izvestia.
"Yes, the decision on organizing the research project "The Moon - Lunokhod" was adopted and pertinent efforts should get underway soon. The program has not yet started because decisions by the RAS Space Council are sent to Roscosmos (State Corporation for Space Activities) and then they hammer out a plan and prepare contracts," Mitrofanov told the newspaper.
According to Izvestia, 18 mln rubles (or roughly $290,000) will be allocated for the the lunar research project, which includes development of lunar rovers in 2016.
According to Mitrofanov, the Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry named after Vladimir Vernadsky will also actively participate in the work.
In early April 2016, the Lavochkin Research and Production Association approved the lunar exploration agenda. According to the approved plans, the Russian Luna-Grunt rover (or Luna-28) is slated to be roll off production lines in 2024.
Nevertheless, Roscosmos told Izvestia that they are aware of this project, but it is too early to discuss it publicly.
A radical measure put forward by the Central Bank - removing the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) from financial recovery processes - was abandoned. The DIA will remain the main recovery regulator, and the Central Bank will be able to control the process after receiving a majority in the agency's Board of Directors, Kommersant reported citing sources.
According to the newspaper, the new concept of reforming banks financial recovery institute was discussed on October 19 at a meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. The new approach, according to the newspaper’s sources, suggests keeping the DIA’s status of the main recovery regulator with certain conditions.
Firstly, the funds for a financial recovery will be allocated directly to banks, not to the Deposit Insurance Agency. Secondly, the Central Bank demanded indirect control over the recovery process - through a majority on the DIA’s Board of Directors.
The DIA must also give away Rossiysky Capital bank to another investor. The main claimant for the bank is the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending. According to the newspaper, the bank will be transferred to the new owner before the beginning of the year.
The Russian Central Election Commission is mulling over the issue of video surveillance in the presidential elections scheduled for March 2018, a source close to the Commission told Kommersant.
According to the source, the costs are estimated to be significantly lower than during the 2012 presidential election, since communication channels have been already set up. In 2012, around 20 bln rubles ($320 mln) was shelled out on the expedited video surveillance when the government selected the only contractor - Rostelecom.
"The feasibility of using of video cameras might be adjusted based on the quantity of the voters," the source said.
Another source told Kommersant, "the initiative on the video surveillance does exist." It might be included in the legislation, as well as taken into account in preparing the budget, "if the corresponding political decision is made," the source said.
Rostelecom told Kommersant that the company is ready to provide video surveillance at polling stations by the presidential elections, if a relevant decision is made.
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