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Press review: US Election Day and Tokyo’s new policy towards Russia

November 08, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, November 8

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© EPA/HERB SWANSON

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Trump and Clinton in tight race as they dash towards finish line

The US presidential race comes down to the wire as America goes to the polls to elect a new president on Tuesday, November 8. In the last days before the election, the contenders for the White House, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton traveled the swing states where the outcome of the presidential race is not yet a foregone conclusion. Although in early fall, the frontrunner seemed obvious, it nevertheless became clear that intrigue remains, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

Despite the strong lead by Democrats according to the latest polls, the race retains its intrigue, the newspaper wrote. "Firstly, national polls are far from a perfect indicator of the candidates’ actual support. In addition, voter turnout among various demographic groups would be the main factor in the election outcome," Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted.

Meanwhile, analysts are already analyzing the future of the US relations with the rest of the world, depending on the victory of either candidate. "Speaking about the impact of a new president in the country's foreign policy, it is worth highlighting the balance between the president’s personal preferences and structural factors that affect any US president," Associate Professor at MGIMO University, Head of consulting agency Foreign Policy Advisory Group Andrey Sushentsov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

According to the expert, the next president will face the need to "rethink America’s role in international relations." Washington will have to use its resources more efficiently for the needs of foreign policy, and "establish more harmonious" relations with other countries.

With regard to relations with Russia, according to the report of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group, the tone of Washington's dialogue with Moscow will "largely depend on current events, and not only on the person in the White House." Agency analysts are not sure of a sudden warming of Russian-American relations in the event of a Trump victory. "Despite the welcoming public rhetoric, Donald Trump did not offer up anything specific to improve relations with Russia," the report stated.

 

Vedomosti: Rosneft looking to buy back its 19.5% stake before December for $11bln

The Russian government has officially issued a directive giving the green light for determining the privatization price of Rosneft’s 19.5% stake owned by Rosneftegaz. Although President Vladimir Putin earlier demanded ensuring maximum transparency of privatization deals, the decree was classified as "For Official Use Only," a normal practice for documents with sensitive information, an official from the financial and economic bloc told the newspaper. Meanwhile, the Rosneft itself might buy back the shares. According to Vedomosti sources, the deal is vital for replenishing the budget deficit.

The directive establishes approaches for determining the privatization deal’s price for the 19.5% stake in Rosneft owned by Rosneftegaz. The minimum is based on the price quotations of October 11, 2016, following the announcement of the Bashneft privatization, when Rosneft’s share price jumped significantly. The figures are as follows: 748.26 bln rubles ($11.72 bln), multiplied by 0.95, which roughly totals 711 bln rubles ($11.17 bln).

Selling the 19.5% stake in Rosneft to a consortium of investors is currently being considered, according to several officials, as well as selling the whole package to a strategic investor. However, it is also likely that Rosneft itself could buy back its 19.5% stake - as a temporary measure - the company has money on its accounts as well as additional funds from the market.

The deal should be closed before December 5 and the money transferred to the Russian budget before December 15, 2016, in the form of Rosneftegaz’s dividends.

Rosneftegaz should not hold anything back - all the money from selling a stake in Rosneft should be given to the state coffers, a senior federal official told Vedomosti, as the deficit in 2016 will be at 3.7%, according to the budget amendments. "Without the money from the sale of Rosneft, the deficit will skyrocket into space," an official from financial and economic bloc told the newspaper. The risk that the funds may be received before the end of the year remains, according to a federal official. In the past, the state had repeatedly received less dividends from Rosneftegaz than was expected.

 

Kommersant: Japan’s new Economy Minister sheds light on Tokyo’s new policy towards Russia

In preparation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December visit to Japan, Tokyo's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Special Minister for Economic Cooperation with Russia Hiroshige Seko came to Moscow. The Minister talked to Kommersant about resetting Russian-Japanese relations and prospects for cooperation between Tokyo and Moscow.

Hiroshige Seko was just recently appointed the Minister of Economy, on September 1. However, according to the Minister, he has already created a council to promote economic cooperation with Russia in order to develop cooperation in energy, medicine, transport infrastructure, financial relations, innovations in the Russian Far East, and improving the export potential of Russia.

The council selected 30 Japanese economic projects to be implemented in Russia. "We also agreed to establish a high-level working group for promoting economic cooperation between Japan and Russia and held its first meeting already," he added.

"I feel that our Russian partners are responding to it with the same enthusiasm. Alone we would not have been able to carry out the work on these 30 joint projects," the Minister added.

According to the Minister, Japanese businessmen have high expectations and the desire to strengthen economic relations with Moscow. He noted that Russia has great potential as a market for Japanese products. Compared with turnover between Japan and China, the Russian-Japanese trade one-tenth of that, which means that could be very large expansion prospects," he said.

Speaking about the President’s visit to Japan, the Minister said, "President Putin has not visited Japan for 11 years. The venue for the meeting - the city of Yamaguchi - is the hometown of our Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister has never invited someone to his home before. He is waiting for Vladimir Putin with a warm welcome."

 

Izvestia: Transnistria warns of tensions heating up if Russian peacekeepers pull out

Ukraine has decided to provide a "green corridor" for a supposed withdrawal of Russian troops from the Transnistria, which according to the Moldovan and Ukrainian press was agreed on by Moldova’s Defense Minister Anatoly Shalaru and his Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak. Transnistria sees it as an attempt to unfreeze the conflict, as the Moldovan-Ukrainian proposal was considered dangerous and out-of-touch with reality. Transnistrian President Yevgeny Shevchuk said in an interview with Izvestia that authorities of Moldova and Ukraine have recently stepped up cooperation on the Transnistrian region.

"They have already made the first moves in blocking the railroad, restricting movement of our citizens with Russian passports and holding back supplies of certain goods. In addition, we are seeing greater coordination in the field of military-technical cooperation and intelligence contacts, an increasing number of NATO special forces in Kiev and Chisinau. With regard to the information on the "agreements" on the corridor, the people of Transnistria will never support this idea. Today, Russian peacekeepers are the foundation of the peacekeeping operation, as their presence in Transnistria enforces peace," Shevchuk told the newspaper, adding that the initiative is very dangerous, because the contradictions between Tiraspol and Chisinau remain and can even worsen.

The President of Transnistria recalled that last year the Ukraine’s President Pyotr Poroshenko paid a visit to Romania, where he "proposed unfreezing the conflict", so a series of such events and statements cannot but worry the people of Transnistria.

Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov told Izvestia, that this information appears in the media because of the upcoming second round of presidential elections in Moldova. "They're trying to play this card, but Transnistrians have not coordinated the agreement. What kind of "corridor" is it? There is a negotiation format, and this is poor man's negotiations, because it is not possible to decide Transnistria’s fate without them present," Kalashnikov stressed.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Despite colder relations towards Moscow, over 50% of Americans want friendlier course with Russia

Relations between Russians and Americans are reverting to the days of the Cold War, according to a joint study by the Levada Center and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. However, the results of the poll are contradictory - for example, US citizens are not opposed to the growth of Russian influence in the international arena, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

Both pollsters noted unstable relations between the countries after the end of the Cold War and both refer to the experts, who believe that the next round of antipathy began in 2014. Thus, residents of United States evaluate their feelings for Russia at 40 points out of 100 possible. As for the Russian respondents, only 23% of them are positive towards the United States.

Assessment of prospects by the respondents proved results that are even more interesting. Thus, the US respondents (56%) would like the Unites States to adhere to a friendly policy toward Russia and to cooperate with the country, while 39% believe that Moscow should be contained. Meanwhile, 71% of respondents believe that the Kremlin tries to limit the influence of Washington. As for the Russian respondents, 32% are in favor of cooperating with the United States, 68% believe that US influence should be limited.

"Perhaps, there are two conclusions from the survey data," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. "First, the public mood follows the direction indicated by the propaganda and then a certain sociological adjustment. Thus, only a third of polled Americans called the territorial ambitions of Russia dangerous for their country. At the same time, 56% of Russian respondents call "the desire of the US to control other countries" "very dangerous"," the newspaper said.

"Second, both countries can be characterized by diminishing interest in each other. For example, according to Levada Center, the overwhelming majority of Russians (91%) are interested in the presidential election campaign in the US, but only 15% of them are closely monitoring what is happening, and 52% do not know whose victory is more profitable for the country. As for the Russian agenda - it manifested itself only during the election - before that US citizens were far more worried about domestic problems," Nezavisimaya Gazeta concluded.

 

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

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