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Press review: NATO training Ukrainian army for sabotage and Russian border checkpoints

November 23, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, November 23

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© EPA/IVAN BOBERSYY

 

Media: NATO trains Ukrainian army for sabotage and info war

With NATO’s support, Ukraine is apparently launching an active sabotage and terror campaign in Crimea aimed at destabilizing the situation on the Black Sea peninsula, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes on Wednesday. This coincided with the activation of the alliance’s military advisers from the US, the UK, Canada and Lithuania in Ukraine’s power structures in early November.

The two major goals are to persecute former Ukrainian troops who moved over into serving in Russia’s army after 2014 and to engage retired officers of Ukraine’s Armed Forces in reconnaissance, sabotage and terrorist activities, the paper says. The arrests of groups of Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea over the past months and the November 20 abduction of two Russian servicemen, Maxim Odintsov and Alexander Baranov, should be viewed in this context, the paper says.

The latest incident may be also construed as an act of intimidation and an element of information war. Military expert Yuri Netkachev told the paper that in the future Ukraine’s main intelligence directorate will focus on new attempts of organizing "a partisan movement" in Crimea.

A source close to Russia’s diplomatic circles told RBC that the activities of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) are a response to the two arrests of suspected Ukrainian saboteurs in Crimea by Russia’s special services. "This is an exchange of provocations as part of a hybrid war," a lawmaker of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada told the paper. Ukrainian political scientist Vadim Karasev also said this is a "symmetrical response." "If Russia didn’t stop this, then it means that Ukraine doesn’t need to stop either. A symmetrical response was needed to halt the search for saboteurs," he said.

Another diplomatic source said it is not expected that the two Russian servicemen may be released soon. There are more than 40 Russian citizens captured by Ukraine and talks on a swap are "not a rapid process," he said. A member of Russia’s State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Sergey Zheleznyak said Russia should seek the assistance of foreign partners to release the servicemen.

 

Izvestia: Restrictions on LinkedIn spawn Russian counterpart

A Russian businessman has introduced an analogue to LinkedIn and launched it shortly after the world’s largest professional network was blocked in Russia, Izvestia writes.

The analogue is called Link You and lets users search for people of a certain profession and communicate with them, and its design is similar to that of LinkedIn. The new social network only has a desktop version and no mobile app. The project was launched roughly over a month ago, and is owned by Igor Molka.

Sergey Kravtsov, owner of OMMG Technology, believes that the Russian counterpart has no chances as LinkedIn’s users won’t switch to other social networks. "LinkedIn has a stable audience which has been using the service for a long time, first of all for international contacts, they know how to bypass the block, that’s why the service won’t lose its audience," he said.

Director General of the YouDo online marketplace, Denis Kutergin, believes that Link You could be used as a dating site rather than for professional communications. According to similar web traffic analysis service, there were 65,000 visits to the Link You website in October.

 

Kommersant: Rosatom loses Vietnamese nuclear project amid cheap oil

Vietnam’s parliament has approved the country’s decision to scrap plans on building the Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) jointly with Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, Kommersant business daily writes. Despite Moscow’s readiness to allocate an $8 bln loan, Hanoi said the development of nuclear energy is too costly and decided against increasing the debt burden amid plunging oil prices.

The construction of Ninh Thuan 1 plant was a key part of Vietnam’s strategy for developing its power industry adopted in 2010, the paper says. It envisaged growth in the capacity of nuclear generation to 10.7 GWt by 2030. Russia and Vietnam signed an agreement on building the country’s first nuclear power plant in 2010. Russia promised to earmark $8 bln as part of a loan, and the overall project was estimated at $10 bln. However, the contract for the NPP construction was not signed and the plans to launch the construction had been postponed several times.

A spokesperson for Rosatom said the company understands the customer’s position and "is ready to provide extensive support for Vietnam when the country decides to return to implementing the national nuclear program." The Vietnamese government has not ruled out such a possibility, promising to give Russia and Japan a priority. Vietnam’s authorities still plan to cooperate with Russia in other infrastructure projects, the paper says.

 

Izvestia: Russian state officials ordered to disclose their social network accounts by April 1

Big brother plans to keep an eye on government bureaucrats, as Russian state officials will have to inform their higher-ups about their accounts on social networks, blogs and forums by April 1, 2017, Izvestia writes on Wednesday, citing the Ministry of Labor.

If state officials forget, or refuse to mention their accounts, they are going to be sacked, the paper says.

"Russian citizens seeking to get positions in the state civil service and civil servants are obliged to reveal information about the addresses of websites or pages of websites on the Internet where these persons posted information available to the public and also data for identifying them," a representative of the ministry’s press service said.

The measure is in line with the law on state civil service that entered into force on July 1, 2016, which obliges the officials to report on their participation in forums and social networks, the paper says.

The Ministry of Labor said the key goal of this information is to ensure that "civil servants comply with the rules of professional ethics."

The representatives of several ministries and agencies interviewed by Izvestia said they have not been asked to share data on social network accounts so far since procedures on how this information should be gathered remain unclear. The labor ministry is already drawing up a corresponding application form that will later be approved by the government.

 

Kommersant: Russia may create temporary checkpoints on Belarus border

Temporary checkpoints for citizens of third countries may be introduced on the Russian-Belarusian border, Kommersant business daily writes. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced the official position for the first time on Tuesday that Moscow believes that foreigners cannot cross the border of the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

According to Kommersant, the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier sent a proposal to the government on introducing border control for citizens of third countries coming to Russia from Belarus by plane. The checkpoint may be also reinstated on the M1 highway running between Minsk, Smolensk and Moscow. These measures are expected to be in force until Moscow and Minsk seal an agreement on a single visa space. However, the negotiations on this are very slow and the checkpoint may remain on a long-term basis.

Tourists as well as foreigners living in Belarus, who earlier could enter Russia freely, have fallen victim to Russia’s intensified security measures over the past months, the paper says. Starting this autumn, Russia’s special services started sticking meticulously to the letter of the law and did not let them cross the border, sending them to international checkpoints (for example, the border with Ukraine or Latvia).

A source in Aeroflot, Russia’s largest air carrier on the Moscow-Minsk route, told Kommersant the company has been asking the Russian Foreign Ministry to solve the issue on the mutual recognition of visas for many years.

The paper says that the intergovernmental agreement on the mutual recognition of visas was drafted back in last December, but negotiations on the document are still ongoing.

 

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

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