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The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has criticized the US election campaign in its report on the upcoming November 8 polls, Izvestia writes on Tuesday. The document obtained by the paper says the US mass media are too biased and the activity of international observers in the country is very restricted.
The legal basis for the elections and the system of electoral bodies in the US are decentralized and complex. Their activity is mainly regulated by state legislation and so procedures significantly differ state-by-state. In addition, some African Americans are not allowed to vote due to various reasons, the report says. Women are also subject to discrimination in the US and are underrepresented in the country’s political life. The ODIHR also questioned the financing of political parties and the US presidential race in general, the paper says. The organization calls the financing system "non-transparent," in fact stressing that the elections are not regulated on federal or local levels. In a large number of states, their laws fail to stipulate the activities of international observers.
The situation at the September 18 elections to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, was completely different, a member of the country’s Central Election Commission and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Vasily Likhachev told the paper. "Not only did we ensure the practical interest of observers, but we also made the monitoring institution universal. The figures speak for themselves - 774 observers from 63 countries came to us." The ODIHR wrote in a statement that their representatives and members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly were able to work without any restrictions, he said.
Belgium’s Wallonia and the Brussels’ region are not ready to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which many European anti-globalists call a "Trojan horse" for advancing a similar deal with the United States. The agreement with Canada was expected to be signed on October 27, but now this is unlikely to take place, Nezavisimaya Gazeta says.
Many call the deal between the EU and Canada a milestone agreement opening the way for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Experts interviewed by the paper are split on the possible consequences the trade deal may cause between the EU and its member states, Canada and with Russia, as well. "On the one hand, our economy may get benefits from this deal since we have the biggest trade turnover with EU countries and our goods can reach Europe via Canada," said Alexei Portansky, Professor of the High School of Economics. "But a negative effect is also possible if some types of our goods that Europe buys now become cheaper in Canada due to the scrapping of customs duties."
Managing partner at the Kirikov Group company Daniil Kirikov said the deal would apply to all companies operating in Canada and this may ease access for US producers of shale hydrocarbons and liquefied natural gas to the European market. "The number of drilling rigs in the US increased by almost 40% over the past five months and may reach 2015 levels in the near future which would pose serious threats for Russian suppliers." Canada is also developing its LNG production facilities and may join the struggle for the market in the EU in the early 2020s, he said.
Three Russian companies - Tatneft, Lukoil and Novatek - have been listed among top 10 firms in the global oil and gas sector in the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) ranking, taking fifth, eighth and tenth places, respectively, Vedomosti writes.
The annual ranking of leading companies in 28 industry sectors is measured by the total shareholder return (TSR) over the past five years - between 2011 and 2015. No other Russian companies have been named in the list. In the ranking Tatneft, Lukoil and Novatek have average total shareholder return in the amount of 20.8%, 12.1% and 11.8%, respectively.
The Russian oil and gas sector largely chalked up benefits due to the ruble devaluation, Partner and Managing Director at the Moscow office of the Boston Consulting Group Irina Gaida said. Other criteria for success were increasing operational efficiency, debt reduction and in some cases less influence of the tax burden on oil processing, she said. Other important factors are increasing output and reserves and the policy of paying rather high dividends, the expert said.
Director of Small Letters Vitaly Kryukov said shareholder return for Novatek and Lukoil can be ensured in the future by new projects, while Tatneft has been always characterized by its efficient management of current projects. Given the current crisis and the country’s tax system, all Russian oil companies can be named among the most efficient in the world as they have either efficient fields or refinery capacity, Andrei Polischuk, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank, stressed.
Russia’s Transport Ministry is gearing up to send its representatives to Egypt to check security at resorts, but experts say charter flights between the two countries are unlikely to be restored this year, according to Izvestia.
"The decision on resuming air traffic between Russia and Egypt is possible only after all complaints regarding aviation and transport security are rectified. It should be also noted that the Egyptians has made significant progress in solving these issues and cooperation between the two countries is rather constructive," the ministry told the paper. Russia’s experts will pay another visit to Egypt to assess the work as soon as the Egyptians are ready, and this may happen in the near future, it said.
Chairman of the Russian Airports Association Viktor Gorbachev said the resumption of charter flights to Egypt should not be expected earlier than in the beginning of 2017. This is not only due to security issues, but because Egypt’s airports are not ready to service the flow of tourists from Russia, the chairman explained. "Over the past year, when no tourists came from Russia, the Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh airports laid off some staff, so time is needed to employ new personnel and train them."
Director of the Turpomosch Association Aleksander Osaulenko told the paper that tourists have been losing interest in the Egyptian resorts over the past two months and tour operators are already putting together winter and spring packages for their clients based on available destinations.
A new player can emerge on the Russian market for natural gas in chemical use: the country’s largest independent producer Novatek is looking into at the possibilities in the chemical field, Kommersant business daily writes.
The company did not provide any particular details, but it did not rule out that it may deal with projects in production of liquefied petroleum gas, the paper says. Experts say that given the low gas prices any export-oriented processing is beneficial for Russia since it may in fact allow it to bypass restrictions on raw materials exports.
Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson told Kommersant the company plans to maintain gas production at levels to "fully load refinery capacity." Nonetheless, in 2017 the company plans to also use a new strategy.
Andrei Kostin, who heads the Rupec Center, said the company may be interested in processing methane into methanol, ammonia and similar products due to low dollar prices for gas and a positive environment on the methanol market. "Any project in processing gas can be very competitive, and Novatek already has experience in methanol production," the expert said.
In September, Lukoil Vice President Vladimir Nekrasov also said his company was interested in developing the chemical utilization of the natural gas sector, Kommersant writes.
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