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Gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU will resume in Brussels. Facing a cold winter and a difficult heating season, Ukraine is ready to start purchasing Russian gas again. According to Kommersant, Moscow intends to demand reciprocal concessions.
Both Moscow and Kiev put forward incompatible conditions for restarting purchases of Russian gas. Naftogaz’s Head Andrey Kobolev has repeatedly said that the company is ready to buy gas in Russia if Gazprom abandons the take-or-pay contractual terms. The European Commission also supports it, owing to concerns about the prospects of a gas transit failure through Ukraine.
At the same time, according to Kommersant’s sources, in exchange Russia intends to ask Kiev to cancel the antitrust fine in the amount of $6.4 bln imposed on Gazprom by Ukraine’s Antimonopoly Committee for alleged violations detected on the "transit market" through Ukraine. Gazprom said the fine is completely unlawful, but Kiev’s attempts to recover the penalty in the countries where the Russian company has assets could turn out to be a big headache for Gazprom.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement in Brussels, the talks are likely to resume towards the end of winter, according to newspaper’s sources in the market. In addition, by that time the reserves in the underground gas storage facilities in Ukraine will have significantly dwindled, which will strengthen Gazprom’s position.
Rosneft has started converting the privatization’s proceeds from Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign fund, minimizing the risks to the ruble, a source close to the deal and a federal official told Izvestia.
The company received the deal’s payment in foreign currency but has to pay to the Russia’s Finance Ministry in rubles. Conversion of a significant amount of funds could lead to fluctuations in the currency market. Therefore, the President instructed Rosneft together with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank to carry out the conversion so that the financial market will not be shaken up.
The Central Bank’s press office confirmed that there is preparatory work for conducting the conversion in a way that would avoid currency market fluctuations. However, a source told Izvestia that the company had already prepared all the mechanisms in advance.
According to the newspaper’s source, the state-owned company began hammering out the sale of the oil producer’s 19.5% stake in the early autumn. Two scenarios made it to the final stage, plan A - the company finds a strategic investor and plan B - the company fails to find an investor.
"The company was well prepared for the transaction, including conversion to rubles. Nobody wanted a repeat of the events in 2014, when under a stable oil price the ruble nosedived by 30%. At the time, Rosneft was blamed, as the company issued a huge tranche of bonds. Now the privatization deal could have caused a fresh round of fluctuations in the ruble’s exchange rate, unprofitable to everyone including the company," a source told Izvestia.
The source in the industry told Izvestia that the sale of blocks of Bashneft and Rosneft’s shares will rake in revenues totaling 1.1 trillion rubles to the state coffers, reducing the budget deficit by 1.2 percentage points. The Finance Ministry expects that this year’s budget deficit will not exceed 3.7% of GDP.
The Russian Federal Accreditation Service and the Customs Service will have new powers to combat trafficking in counterfeit goods, Kommersant writes citing the latest plan by the State Commission on counterfeiting in 2017.
To identify the imported products that do not comply with the requirements, the services should develop a "risk profile" by March 2017 - an indicator of the probability of non-compliance with standards. The Accreditation Service told Kommersant, that documents on the low-quality products will be used to determine risk profiles.
The Federal Tax Service will also assist in pinpointing violations, as well as the Internal Affairs Ministry, the Investigative Committee that will improve the mechanism of criminal prosecution of unscrupulous experts.
Currently, certain types of goods (oil products, railway equipment, etc.) are subject to obligatory certification. However, a declaration of conformity with technical regulations is enough for the majority of the products.
Sergey Shubenkov, the 25-year-old Russian sprinter banned from competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio due to sanctions by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) does not believe that one of the main initiators of the doping scandal, Richard McLaren, has any new information in the second part of his report. Shubenkov said in an interview with Izvestia that he is sure that there is no point in waiting for breaking news from McLaren.
"McLaren has already presented the key idea, the investigation will continue focusing specifically on athletes. And he has a long list of athletes, and, probably, in the second part of the report he will say who did what. I do not know what else he has to present on December 9 to make it breaking news. I am skeptical about this and I think that there will be nothing new," Shubenkov told Izvestia.
On the same day, the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) will select the new President of the organization. According to Shubenkov, his "function as an athlete remains the same as with any president of the Federation." However, he believes that the new president ARAF will not necessarily get back into the IAAF before the World Cup in London in August 2017. "Everything depends on the IAAF," he stated.
In 2017, Moscow’s municipal authorities are going to launch the second round of testing for its new facial recognition system used in urban surveillance cameras. According to RBC, so far, the technology costs billions of rubles, but provides only a small percentage of recognition. The results of the first phase of the experiment showed that the use of such technology is too expensive.
"Introducing the facial recognition equipment across the city would require a tenfold increase in costs. The technology will cost several billion rubles, which is absolutely unacceptable for us," Head of the Department of Information Technology of the Moscow Government Artem Ermolaev told RBC. The department hopes to cut the cost of introducing the innovation for public use. The official did not give the exact estimates.
According to the newspaper, there are questions that not only cover costs, but also quality as well. The Moscow Government will try to solve the problem in two ways. "Firstly, we are looking for technologies that will achieve better results with moving cameras. Second, we are studying the possibility of changing the cameras’ parameters. They can be made more static, that will ensure a more effective analysis of any video stream," Ermolaev explained.
According to him, any new technology must be experimented on several cameras before being rolled out for use in the entire urban system.
The facial recognition system can be used to search for criminals and missing persons. In Moscow, there are 140,000 CCTV cameras. Law enforcement agencies and city officials have access to the video archives. Citizens can request access if they were victims of a robbery, assault, or some crime, or suffered an accident.
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