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The shift in President Vladimir Putin’s address from foreign to domestic policy and the economy is related to the "detente trend", a source close to the Kremlin told Vedomosti business daily. "The state is searching for new ways to consolidate society and strengthen the ratings of the president and the party," the source said. He also noted the contribution of Kremlin’s new First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko in the speech. "This implies giving up the confrontational ‘black-and-white’ rhetoric and the search for an enemy from within, including in culture and the arts," he said.
By initiating the ‘tax discussion’, President Putin has virtually set the topic of a ‘fair’ tax system as one of the key issues for the upcoming election campaign, Vedomosti writes. According to political analyst Konstantin Kalachev, the next address may create sensations, yet Thursday’s speech was a basic one, outlining values, development agenda and thanking citizens. Another political scientist, Yevgeny Minchenko, considers the address a ‘strategic’ one, which placed the state’s priorities on the agricultural sector, the military industrial sector, and the IT sector. According to Minchenko, the State Duma elections brought the large electoral cycle to an end, while the foreign policy course remains stable, which means that economic development remains the main question. "Putin answered this question, when he responded to society’s request," the expert told RBC.
Director of the Center of Political Situation Alexey Chesnakov told Izvestia daily that the recent corruption scandals may support the belief about a wall between the power structure and the people. "Putin is aware of the fact that people are becoming increasingly annoyed by civil servants. But so far there are no tools to bring down the this wall separating the power structure from the people. Officials are good at producing loyal individuals whose goals are quite the opposite of those announced by the President. They are yes-men that echo the power structure rather than protect their citizens," Chesnakov said. According to Dmitry Orlov, Head of the Russian Agency of Political and Economic Communications, the anti-corruption campaign will continue and gain momentum. "Dialogue (between officials and citizens) will be further established, officials have no other option. Under the system, which Putin is creating, particularly stated in this address, only those who manage to conduct the said needed dialogue will survive. The development agenda will be implemented by those who satisfy the request for fresh communication with the public," Orlov told Izvestia.
The Syrian army is seeking to wrap up the operation to liberate Aleppo before the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump, a source in Syria’s power structure told Izvestia. "Our goal is to fully free Aleppo before January 20. Currently, the army is intensively striking the militants’ positions," the source said, adding that "there are all reasons to say that we’ll attain the goal," the source stated.
The army’s massive operations indirectly confirm those plans. According to Dmitry Zhuravlev, Director General of the Institute of Regional Problems, the strategy is to "present Trump with an accomplished fact." "The President-elect has repeatedly said that he does not wish to wage war in Syria. However, those were the words of a candidate during an election campaign whereas the genuine course may crucially differ," he told the newspaper. "On the other hand, the Syrians may expect the new American administration to normalize relations with Damascus. But to hold talks they need a trump card - the control over the two most important cities of the country," he added.
Angela Merkel’s quest for four more years as Germany’s Chancellor may be in jeopardy, as many lawmakers are dissatisfied with her policies. According to Knut Fleckenstein, Vice President of the Social Democrats (SPD), there is opposition to Merkel inside the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) itself, where she is the leader. "The reason is due to the variety of views among the Union’s members regarding the migrant crisis issue as well as the integration of refugees," he said, adding that even "her teammates are not satisfied with the way she is tackling the problem."
The Social Democrats (SPD) will not support the current Chancellor at the parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2017. In January, the party will officially announce its candidate to oppose Merkel. "Judging by the results of the recent polls, the CDU (the Christian Democratic Union)/CSU (sister party, the Christian Social Union) today has a chance to win the majority of votes in the Bundestag though the Christian Democratic Union will have to set up a coalition government," Fleckenstein explained.
He also said he considers it necessary to continue efforts on European integration as "the pressing political, economic and social issues may be solved more efficiently on the European level." "I understand Joachim Gauck and his efforts to take into consideration people’s concerns. He has proposed to take a pause before proposing any initiatives aimed at strengthening European integration. Thus, we have a certain period of time to adjust to the current situation," he said when commenting on the recent announcement by the German President, who urged for a ‘pause’ in EU integration.
The Moscow football club, Dinamo, has agreed to sell its share in the VTB Arena Park development project to Russia’s second-biggest lender VTB, head of the Association of all-Russian Sports Society Dinamo, which owns a 25% stake in the football club, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky told Vedomosti. "Part of this sum (raised for the share in the project) will be used to repay its current debts, while the biggest sum will be the players’ wages," he said.
Strzhalkovsky thinks the raised funds will be sufficient to repay debts to VTB. However, he refused to disclose the transaction’s sum and the amount of debt. Earlier it was reported that the club had to repay more than 5 bln rubles to VTB and its structures at the end of 2015. VTB suggested to the Association that that bank acquire 74% of shares of Dinamo Moscow for a symbolic sum of 1 ruble, Strzhalkovsky said. A source in VTB’s press service confirmed to the newspaper that the transaction is currently being hammered out.
A joint film-producing center, the creation of which was announced on December 1, will remake the legendary Soviet film, The Amphibian Man, for the Chinese market, a source in the Glavkino producer center, which is involved in the project, told RBC business daily. Work on the project will begin next year, the source said, adding that the movie’s budget is estimated at around $3 mln.
Writing the script will take at least one year, while shooting is planned for the summer of 2018. In total, the work may take up to three years.
The issue of revenue distribution in being hammered out now, a representative for the Russian party in the project told the newspaper, adding that the plan is to generate $15 mln from the film, and get at least $6 mln from selling the right for TV distribution.
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