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Russian President Vladimir Putin set off for Japan on a high-profile trip that was several years in the making, RBC writes. The head of the Russian state will pay a visit to that country after an 11-year hiatus. The talks will focus on economic cooperation, while the territorial dispute still looks unsolvable. Putin will visit two prefectures, hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and take part in a business forum.
For Abe, signing a peace treaty and resolving the issue of the Kuril Islands will be one of the main issues on the agenda. On the other hand, the Russian president called for creating an atmosphere of trust between the two countries, a necessary condition for successfully completing the talks.
The Japanese premier put forward an eight-point cooperation plan during his meeting with Putin in Sochi earlier this year. Now this plan is being implemented, Alexei Repik, President of the Business Russia association, told RBC. Round-table discussions will be held on each of the eight points at a business forum in Tokyo, which will be attended by Putin and Abe. "The forum will bring together over 300 participants from Russia and the same number from Japan. According to our estimates, more than 50% of Japan’s GDP will be represented at the forum by CEOs of Japanese companies," he said, adding that this indicates a new level of confidence between the two counties.
According to Russian Presidential Aide, Yuri Ushakov, 10 inter-state and 15 commercial agreements are expected to be signed, while representatives of business circles may ink about 50 contracts.
Russia’s Constitutional Court will hold a hearing on Thursday on whether or not Russia has the right to refrain from paying out €1.9 bln in compensation in the Yukos oil company case, Kommersant writes. The court promised to hear testimony from the oil company that was liquidated in 2007 and its official shareholders, should they attend the hearing.
The paper found out that, along with representatives of the Russian authorities and Yukos’ experts, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the companies "officially recognized" as its former shareholders had been invited to attend the court session on recognizing the ruling by the ECHR decision on compensation for Yukos as unenforceable. The court’s press service told Kommersant that all of them had been informed about the Russian Justice Ministry’s inquiry, submitted their written comments and can give testimony during the court hearing, adding that they are not a party in this case.
UK attorney, Piers Gardner, whose authority as Yukos’ representative to the ECHR are not recognized by the Russian Justice Ministry, and Tim Osborne, head of Group Menatep Limited (GML) whose subsidiaries, Yukos Universal Limited and Hulley Enterprises Limited, are the former company’s owners,have been invited to the hearing.
Osborne informed Kommersant that the he would not attend the court session. He hoped that the court would not find any constitutional grounds for not complying with the ECHR decision.
Following Aleppo’s liberation from militants by Syrian troops, Damascus has expressed support for Russia’s proposal to start hammering out a ceasefire in Syria and sit down at the negotiating table at an early date, Izvestia writes. However, opponents of the Syrian government backed by a number of Western and Middle Eastern countries doubt that a truce could be implemented.
Qadri Jamil, one of the leaders of the Moscow-Cairo-Astana group, which is part of the internal Syrian opposition, told the paper that prospects for reviving the political process in that country are opening up. "Bringing Aleppo under the control of Syrian forces opens up broad opportunities for resuming the political process, in particular, the Geneva talks. I believe now it’s the right time to conduct negotiations to end the bloodshed in Syria. We are prepared to take part in all these processes," he said.
For its part, the Western-backed "external" opposition considers the talks on a ceasefire in Syria pointless, Abdul Ilah Fahd, Secretary General of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said in an interview with the paper. "Take, for example, the Russian-Turkish agreement (on militants’ withdrawal from Aleppo reached on December 12). How can it be implemented, if there are militia units in Syria in no way related to Russia? We do not reject the idea of dialogue. However, we need guarantees that the agreements will be complied with," he said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, will pay a working visit to Azerbaijan on Thursday, Kommersant writes. The parties are expected to discuss military-technical cooperation between the two countries and the delivery of the Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile systems to Azerbaijan’s main geopolitical rival, Armenia.
Rogozin is travelling to Baku in the run-up to a meeting by the intergovernmental commission scheduled for December 16 and will conduct extensive negotiations on Friday. According to a Russian defense industry enterprise senior executive officer, in addition to meeting with Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, Rogozin will also hold talks on weapons exports.
Some sources in the military-technical cooperation system interviewed by the paper noted that a major effort during the talks will be clarifying Russia’s stance on the delivery of the Iskander missile systems to Armenia. "Our Azerbaijani partners have responded negatively to such developments in light of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," one of the sources said.
According to media reports, a battalion of the Iskander missile systems was handed over to Yerevan this past fall under the arms supplies agreements within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
The decision by the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) to strip the Russian city of Sochi of hosting the 2017 world championships was fueled by political undertones, since the facts prove that it could have hardly been taken any other way, Mikhail Degtyarev, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs Committee, told Izvestia. "Threats to boycott (the championships in Sochi) came from the same countries that persistently request that we let thugs leave Aleppo. All that is interrelated. The grounds for maligning Russia were provided by those athletes, medics and officials who acted at their own risk. We need to fight this doping evil by adopting a program on the fight against doping in February," he said.
Degtyarev noted that "it is pointless to criticize the federations and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)." "We should comply with reasonable demands and meet WADA’s criteria, we have made some progress in this regard," he said. He added that the Russian Sports Ministry could be ‘reinforced’ with its own staff for permanent communication with international organizations.
The federation said in a statement on its website earlier this week it decided to move the IBSF 2017 World Championships from Sochi to another location. The IBSF stressed the decision had been made "to allow athletes and coaches from all nations to participate in a competition that focuses on sport rather than accusations and discussions - whether justified or not."
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