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Press review: Islamic State issues hit lists and Bout counting on Trump

December 22, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, December 22
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© Militant Photo via AP

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Islamic State puts out hit lists targeting Russian diplomats

Right after the gruesome assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia) terrorists reportedly started disseminating lists of Russian diplomatic missions around the world to be attacked. The Sun published scanned lists of targeted Russians embassies in Azerbaijan, Iran, Uganda and some other states with addresses and telephone numbers.

"I can’t say that it is necessarily the Islamic State that is the author of those files but definitely one of the global terrorist organizations," Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, Ruben Safrastyan, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "It is no mere chance that terrorists threatened Russian diplomats a day after the murder of Andrei Karlov in Ankara and several days after the attack on police officers in Grozny," he said, adding that "all those actions are against Russia, which is playing a major role in the settlement of the Syrian situation today."

Russian orientalist and former diplomat Vyacheslav Matuzov told the newspaper that the key moral point to be drawn from this tragic incident is the need to enhance security at Russia’s embassies. "A diplomat cannot move within a country without agreeing on the itinerary, or without revising all potential developments," he said, adding that nowadays "this most important element has been placed under the general policy of saving budget funds, staff and expenditure cuts, which cannot be done for the sake of security."

Following the murder in Ankara, Russia’s State Duma initiated a discussion on measures to enhance the security of diplomats working abroad. According to Kommersant’s sources, the issue will be also considered by the Federation Council, and particular measures are being developed by "security forces and first of all the Foreign Ministry" in accordance with President’s request. The proposal to provide ambassadors with personal guards on a mandatory basis is under discussion, the newspaper writes.

 

Izvestia: Bout fights on to return home under Trump administration

Viktor Bout serving a 25-year prison term in United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois has decided to appeal the verdict by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, his lawyer Aleksey Tarasov told Izvestia daily. Also, a request will be filed with US authorities on Bout’s return to his native country in accordance with the 1983 Strasbourg Convention regulating the transfer of sentenced persons to their country of citizenship, the newspaper writes.

"Viktor has decided to appeal the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. The request regarding the convention will also be initiated, but by early 2017, those two procedures do not contradict each other," Tarasov noted, adding that "the convention request will be filed on behalf of Russia." According to the lawyer, both mechanisms aimed at returning Bout home will be launched under the new US administration, "since that way our chances of success are better." "We’ve seen the list of those pardoned this week by Barak Obama, unfortunately, neither Viktor Bout, nor Konstantin Yaroshenko are in there," he added.

In November 2016, the Second Circuit US Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled against holding a new trial on Viktor Bout’s case. The Russian citizen was detained in the Thai capital of Bangkok in 2008 based on an arrest warrant issued by a local court at the United States’ request and later charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group calling itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a group labelled a terrorist organization by the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined $15 mln.

 

RBC: ‘Big three’ rating agencies stalling on Central Bank’s registration

The top international rating agencies - S&P, Moody's and Fitch Ratings - have not applied to the Russian banking regulator for authorization, a source on the financial market told RBC business daily. "The deadline for this will only expire in July 2017, yet on the other hand there has been ample time - more than a year," he noted. Another source close to the Bank of Russia confirmed the information that none of the three had applied yet. The inaction may be driven by an attempt to bargain for a change in the stringent law - On activities of credit rating agencies - adopted in July 2015, the source added. If the attempt fails, the global raters will have one more option left - to be authorized by the Central Bank as subsidiaries of foreign companies with the ability to only issue international ratings.

According to Elena Chaikovskaya, Director of the Bank of Russia's Financial Market Development Department, "if these international agencies stay in the country, they will be able to assign ratings to Russian issuers, but they will not be acknowledged in Russia." "Foreign investors will use those ratings," she said, adding that in this case the Moscow Exchange will not be able to use western agencies’ ratings as all securities issues’ listings are based on national scale ratings.

Rating agencies are not the only ones seeking a compromise. Chaikovskaya says if foreign raters fail get the Central bank’s authorization in time, many market participants will experience serious reverberations, particularly pension funds, which will be forced to give up investments in big companies. "According to our estimates, this may concern 200-250 major issuers that were rated by the ‘big three’," she said, adding that the companies may be just short of time to get a rating by the Russian agency. If S&P, Moody's and Fitch Ratings accept the Central bank’s rules of game they will have to double local staff, RBC writes, citing one market player. "This is about high costs, but on the other hand should the ‘big three’ refuse to work under the Russian legislations it would lose 90% of their client base," he added.

 

Izvestia: Cyber crooks poised to siphon off 2.5 bln rubles from ATMs in 2017

Cyber thieves may set their sights on stealing money via ATM machines next year, Izvestia says. The amount of funds stolen may exceed 2.5 bln rubles, a 25-30% increase compared with 2016.

According to Ilya Medvedovksy, CEO of Digital Security which deals with cyber security, cash machines and ATM networks of financial institutions will top hackers’ agendas in 2017.

Zecurion projected the amount of cybercrimes to surge 25-30% next year when compared to 2016, when hackers stole 2 bln rubles out of ATMs. According to Positive Technologies, the share of hacker’s theft via ATMs account for 10-15% of the total amount of cybercrimes. The company’s head told the newspaper that he also expected a surge of these attacks next year "as they are simpler to carry out than trying to get access to banking accounts."

 

Vedomosti: Latvian subsidiary to expand chain of rehabilitation centers in Russia

The subsidiary of Latvian Integral Management Group (IMG) is planning to invest around €30 mln in a chain of multi-field rehabilitation centers in Russia, Vedomosti business daily writes. According to the company’s representative, Aleksandra Slavyanskaya, rehabilitation practices are becoming increasingly popular as the number of private patients in oncology and orthopedics is rising. She values that local market of private rehabilitation at more than €125 mln per year.

This is a new area for private investors since so far they have been focusing on treatment, the newspaper writes citing a market participant. Rehabilitation is a niche area, he says. Another source objects, noting that this field is cost-intensive.

 

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

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