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Press review: Ultimatums in Russian-Japanese dialogue and foreign investors' obligations

December 19, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, December 19
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tokyo

© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

 

Izvestia: Foreign Affairs Committee Chair warns ‘ultimatums’ won’t help Japan in dialogue with Russia

The outcome of the Russian President’s first visit to Japan in 11 years indicates that Russia is ready to discuss the Kuril Islands, despite the fact that it does not see any "territorial issues" with it, Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev said in an interview with Izvestia.

"Russia does not see any territorial or controversial issues. However, Russia is ready to discuss this issue with Japan, understanding how important it is for politicians and society. However, any ultimatums or resentment will definitely not help," Kosachev said.

According to Kosachev, the visit’s outcome cannot be assessed in terms of "who won and who lost," which earlier presented the fundamental error in the approach to Russian-Japanese relations. "I believe, that the key achievement of our diplomacy and the President personally includes the fact that the major reason for the talks about the peace treaty and the Kuril Islands was clear - good relations is the only base for settling the territorial dispute, not the other way around," Kosachev added.

According to Kosachev, the very fact of the visit means that the Russian-Japanese dialogue is headed in the right direction - Shinzo Abe became the first G7 leader to invite Vladimir Putin for an official visit after the West introduced sanctions on Russia.

"By the way, Japan is the only Asian country to join these sanctions. However, this is why the results of the visit are impressive. Judging by the number and the scale of agreements and declarations concluded, the trip was certainly unprecedented, if not historical," Kosachev concluded.

 

Kommersant: Roscosmos CEO lays out space industry’s pros and cons

Roscosmos, the State Corporation for Space Activities, was formed more than a year ago. The corporation’s CEO Igor Komarov talked about the status of the industry’s key businesses, the space program’s cutbacks and the future of the Vostochny cosmodrome in an interview with Kommersant.

According to Komarov, funds shelled out for Russia’s space program for 2017-2019 decreased from the initial 2.8 trillion rubles.

"Some projects that focused on exploring the Moon and Mars were scrapped, as well as the development of super-heavy carrier rocket. We were forced to eliminate major programs. However, we were able to retain projects in key areas related to creating and maintaining the state of orbital space groups," he noted, adding that there are always risks of further cuts in funding.

The CEO added that work on the launch and the technical facilities of the Vostochny cosmodrome will not be completed by the end of the year. "Unfortunately, in regard to the launch and the technical facilities, work will not be completed this year," he stated.

Komarov noted that the overall Vostochny cosmodrome situation is difficult. According to him, the program’s parameters for developing spaceports by 2025 does not quite live up to the current budget possibilities.

"However, this applies only to 2017-2019. We found reserves for 2017 and settled the funding issue, but there are issues for 2018 and 2019. I believe we will find the means and settle everything with the Finance Ministry," Komarov noted.

According to the newspaper, the total amount of the program - 550 bln rubles ($8.9 bln) - is half the funds that Roscosmos had originally requested.

 

Izvestia: Foreign importers may be required to invest in Russian economy

The Russian Economic Development Ministry has sent a report to the government on the possibility of formalizing an offset transactions mechanism in legislation. According to the draft modifications, the introduction of investment obligations is planned for foreign suppliers of goods and services, Izvestia wrote referring to the Ministry’s press-secretary Elena Lashkina.

Investment obligations will apply to contracts worth more than 100 mln rubles ($1.61 mln). After the information about the procurement of goods and service providers is published, importers will have to offer reciprocal investment proposals that will be the base for choosing the winners of tenders.

"This measure will ensure contracts for vehicle and industrial equipment supplies that provide reciprocal obligations on using Russian metal semi-finished products," Lashkina told the newspaper. Earlier Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev initiated developing proposals for establishing a mechanism of offset transactions.

A representative of the Economic Development Ministry told Izvestia, the legislation already includes a possibility of putting forward conditions for additional commitments, however in practice such contracts are extremely rare due to the lack of economic interest from foreign partners.

 

Vedomosti: Russian insurance major and top-ten domestic bank eyeing merger

Several sources in the banking and insurance field told Vedomosti that Rosgosstrakh’s chief owner, Danil Khachaturov is in negotiations on transferring control over the company. Last week, Khachaturov, co-owner of Otkrytiye Vadim Belyaev and First Deputy President and Chairman of VTB Bank’s Management Board, Yuri Soloviev, met with Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina and two bankers, a source close to close to Rosgosstrakh told the newspaper. The parties have presented the Central Bank Governor with a plan on merging the assets of Rosgosstrakh and Otkrytiye, which was first discussed in the summer of 2016. The parties are currently preparing to carry out due diligence of Rosgosstrakh’s assets.

According to a source close to both parties, so far they have discussed Rosgosstrakh and RGS Bank (controlled by Rosgosstrakh) joining Otkrytiye, however Rosgosstrakh’s non-governmental pension fund was not included in the deal. According to the source, the partners want to establish the largest private financial group in Russia, with assets of 4.5 trillion rubles ($72.69 bln) and a customer base of 55 million people. Based on the plan, the merger will take place in 2017 and will occupy the whole year. The Rosgosstrakh team will manage the insurance business, whereas the Otkrytiye team will cover investment banking and brokerage, "businesses will work under the existing brands," the source said.

"Otkrytiye is a powerful group that can support any financial business in the event of problems on the market. However, of course there is a risk that at first Rosgosstrakh might bring losses. But the purchase will give Otkrytiye an opportunity to enter the insurance market with very strong infrastructure and immediately take a leading position in a variety of segments - the group was missing such a large insurance business," Managing Partner of the Russian National Agency of Financial Studies Pavel Samiev told Vedomosti.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: More than half of Ukrainians view Russians as brothers

The number of people who believes in the possibility of a large-scale war with Russia is on the decline in Ukraine. Society has split into two large camps - some want to see a normalization in relations with Russia and urge authorities to make concessions on a settlement in Donbass, others are opposed. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, this rift is reflected in the political process. In the near future, Ukraine might undergo a political reshuffling.

According to the opinion poll, carried out recently by the Razumkov Center, 41.6% of Ukrainians do not believe that Russia may start to wage a full-scale war against Ukraine, 35.4% do believe so, while 23% remained undecided. In July, 51.9% believed in the probability of military aggression by Russia. At the time, the survey showed that should a large-scale war break out, only 27% of Ukrainians were ready to participate in it, 38.7% said they would stand on the side of the forces in favor of ending the conflict. Another 24.7% said that they would not interfere in anything.

According to the newspaper, the latest data by the Razumkov Center is especially interesting against the summer survey. Currently 51.1% of Ukrainian citizens believe Ukrainians and Russians are "brothers", yet 33.8%, do not share this opinion, while 15.2% stayed undecided. "Ukraine apparently lost the information war," Director of the Situations Modeling Agency Vitaliy Bala commenting on the data. "After all, if all Ukrainians would absolutely believe the statements of their authorities about Russia, it is unlikely that half of the respondents would have called the Russian people "brothers"," the newspaper wrote.

According to Bala, Ukrainian politicians have offered the public false concepts "anti-terrorist operation instead of war, speculative populism - under the guise of political reforms." In addition, according to the expert, the Ukranian authorities have incorrectly identified the priorities in information and foreign policy, which was shown in opinion polls.

 

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

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