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Press Review: Russia's oil output cut and Islamic State's attempt to retake Palmyra

December 12, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press

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© David McNew/Getty Images

 

Kommersant: Russia to have largest output cut outside OPEC

OPEC countries and a number of major oil producers outside the cartel have decided to cut oil production for 6 months starting from January 1. Russia's contribution to the reduction totals 300,000 barrels per day - more than half of the countries outside the OPEC quota. The goal of this agreement, according to the majority of the participants, is to ensure oil prices remain stable, above $50 per barrel. Russia, however, has to tackle a difficult issue regarding its output cut policy.

Russia’s Energy Ministry will hold a meeting with oil companies later this week to hammer out detailed schedules for reducing oil production. According to oil market experts interviewed by Kommersant, Energy Minister Alexander Novak for the first time questioned the decision’s certainty, noting "this will involve a complicated mechanism" and did not rule out making a specific decision for certain companies.

According to the newspaper, it is possible that some companies, will be allowed to continue increasing oil production at the expense of those with declining output. "This option seems to be fairer than an across-the-board, equal cut for all companies, but could stir up discord," the newspaper wrote. The Minister also made it clear that oil companies should not expect compensation for participating in this "voluntary" process, because both oil producers and the budget will benefit from the rise in oil prices. Not all experts interviewed by Kommersant, however, agree with this, noting that some players with mounting production may suffer losses.

The participants of the oil cut agreement made no secret about their goal - to prevent oil prices from falling, and at least keep them at around $50 per barrel. However, compliance with the agreement will be critical, as well as reaction to US shale oil producers that are already increasing drilling.

 

Izvestia: Bank license purge hits savers with 50 bln rubles ($804.24 mln) in losses

The Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) told Izvestia that as a result of problematic banks having their licenses revoked, depositors have been hit with about 50 bln rubles ($804.24 mln) in losses in 2016. This refers to funds above 1.4 mln rubles ($22,518) on deposits that are not covered by Russia’s federal deposit insurance. Experts believe that the Central Bank should pay more attention to improving the financial situation of credit institutions, rather than recalling licenses.

Since the beginning of 2016, the regulator has yanked the licenses of 80 banks that held 501.4 bln rubles ($8.06 bln) of savings. According to the DIA’s estimates, the extent of insurance agency’s accountability to compensate savers of failed credit institutions amounted to 447 bln rubles ($7.2 bln).

However, receiving funds at time of bankruptcy proceedings is a lengthy process. Attorney for property disputes at HEADS Consulting Anna Abramenko told Izvestia, "Certainly, nobody can furnish any guarantees for payments, as the bankruptcy of each bank is an individual case, the volume of claims to the bank can vary."

According to ACB, the average rate of reimbursement of debt on retail deposits, as of October 1 amounted to 34.4%. "It is sad that our citizens’ and our businesses’ losses are growing. The Central Bank must consider it during financial recovery of the banking sector," President of Association of Russian Banks (ARB) Garegin Tosunyan told the newspaper.

Companies’ losses are also increasing, according to Izvestia’s estimates, legal entities’ liabilities have amounted to roughly 230 bln rubles ($3.69 bln) in just over a year.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Terrorists mount offensive to retake Palmyra

In spite of the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) massive victories against the militants in Aleppo, the Islamic State (terrorist organization, banned in Russia) has launched a counter-attack to retake Palmyra. The Islamists managed to use the element of surprise and to concentrate superior forces on one place for a strike - up to 5,000 fighters.

The Russian Defense Ministry reported earlier that the Islamic state fighters had gathered near Palmyra were transported from Al-Raqqa (the US-led coalition forces suspended the offensive), Deir ez-Zor and Mosul. By late December 11, the IS forces regrouped once again and launched a fierce attack on government troop positions in the hope to re-enter the city and gain a foothold there. Now only air power enables the SAA to keep Palmyra in their hands.

According to the newspaper, judging by the actions of the Syrian military command, it is experiencing an acute shortage of tactical reserves, so SAA forces were weakened near Palmyra.

"At the same time, it seems that the Islamic state commanders were able to gain valuable intel from unknown sources. And, to put it bluntly the enemy was impressive in this situation," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. On the other hand, "it is unclear what data was used by the SAA intelligence, as the area is under the supervision of the Russian air and space reconnaissance forces," the newspaper added.

 

Izvestia: Russian experts consider new WADA doping accusations groundless

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren has published the second part of his report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission. According to the report, more than 1,000 Russian athletes who competed in summer and winter sports, as well as in the Paralympics, were involved in manipulation of the doping tests. The report listed 15 winners of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

According to experts, the McLaren report still does not present any reasonable charges, as the second part has no new information when compared with the July publication.

"The commission's report presented nothing new. It is obvious that WADA and McLaren will not rest. Therefore, we will have problems with participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea," Federation Council member and honorary president of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) Leonid Tyagachev told Izvestia.

McLaren published information that traces of drugs were allegedly found in samples of a number of football and hockey players. "It is hard to believe. Samples are taken on the day of the game, and a few days later the results are announced. This is the whole McLaren report - no specifics, just allegations about substitution of samples," the Russian Football Union’s (RFU) honorary President Vyacheslav Koloskov told Izvestia.

President of the Russian Basketball Federation (RBF) Andrei Kirilenko believes that in order to combat WADA’s attacks, Russian sport needs to strengthen its position in international sports organizations. "Our problem is that there are only a few federations, where we hold serious weight. For example, the International Fencing Federation (FIE). However, in some international federations our office is ineffective. We need to work very seriously on this," he told the newspaper.

 

Kommersant: Sanctions against Russia written in popular fonts

The import-substitution software in government agencies faces another serious obstacle. The developer of the domestic operating Astra Linux system Rusbittech could not use popular fonts, including the standard Times New Roman for departmental documents, due to the sanctions, two sources in the IT-market told Kommersant. The information was later confirmed by head of the Astra Linux OS developer team Yuri Sosnin.

The rights to Times New Roman font belong to the American Monotype Imaging (also owns popular fonts Arial, Verdana, Tahoma and others), which refused the contract with the Russian company due to its cooperation with the Defense Ministry.

Two sources familiar with the details of the negotiations told Kommersant, that the company has set a price of 650 euro for each working computer using Astra Linux Service fonts. Another source told the newspaper, for some companies Monotype Imaging sets the price at just 3-4 euro per seat. "Apparently, they did not want to refuse, and hoped that the price will scare the company away," the source said.

To maintain the ability to exchange documents with Windows, Rusbittech has to develop domestic counterparts for Times New Roman - public Fonts PT Astra Sans and PT Astra Serif, as the majority of documents has to use Times New Roman, which has become the standard official font in Russia, Sosnin told Kommersant.

 

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

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