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According to military pilots interviewed by Kommersant daily, they considered terrorism as a possible version of Russian Defense Ministry’s Tu-154 crash. However, a high-ranking defense official told the newspaper that each Russia airliner flying to Syria is a subject of focus for NATO and their allies, with respective monitoring systems installed in Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine. "Even if we wanted to qualify it as a terrorist attack on board it would have been recorded and reported by our neighbors in the region," he said.
In the early hours of December 25, a Tu-154 vanished from radar screens. Fragments of the Tu-154 were discovered some 1.5-8 kilometers off the coast of Sochi, which usually happens when a plane crashes in mid-air, similar to what happened to the A321 Airbus in Egypt in October 2015, Izvestia writes. Technical malfunction and pilot error main versions for Tu-154 crash.
According to the newspaper, another version being considered is bad quality fuel. "Three engines cannot fail simultaneously," a former pilot told Izvestia, adding that "it is only possible if the fuel does not meet standards." However, he added, he considers it unlikely to happen in "an international airport with serious security measures."
Russian pilot Yuriy Vashchuk told RBC daily that "even one engine malfunction is a critical situation, which however could not lead to a crash." "Something happened on board, which pilots had not time to respond to. A similar thing had happened to the passenger airline that crashed in Egypt," he added. President of the anti-terror Association of Veterans of Alpha Sergei Goncharov told the newspaper that the terror attack version could be considered, but not seen as a priority.
While the US continues to whip up a powerful psychological and political crusade against Russia, adverse fallout from this campaign is not felt by members of the United Nations, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. "We watch local TV channels, read the American newspapers, which whip up fearmongering about Russia", but once I enter the UN building, I no longer see that," he said, adding that the UN members are seeking to cooperate and establish working and friendly ties with each other.
According to Churkin, Russia’s UN delegation is ready to cooperate with new US administration. When asked about his expectations of the US President elect Donald Trump, he said, "it is hard to predict." "I think one can only make forecasts judging by some announcements of the US President-elect, though we have to wait until he comes to the White House and his team starts working," the diplomat resumed. "The only thing I can say is that as for our delegation, and me personally, we are ready to cooperate with the new US team to the extent that they’ll be ready for constructive dialogue," he added.
Russia’s second-largest oil producer, Lukoil, has divided its subsidiary Lukoil Overseas, which manages the company’s mining assets outside Russia, into three big managing centers - in Dubai, Houston and Tashkent, Izvestia writes citing CEO Vagit Alekperov. "We’ve completed almost everything. We have three particular regions - Houston, Dubai, and Uzbekistan," he said.
According to the company’s co-owner and Vice President Leonid Fedun, the move has helped Lukoil to adjust to today’s demands of the market. "We’ve completed the restructuring of (Lukoil) Overseas, which has been adjusted to the global market’s current environment," he explained. Also, the restructuring has been dictated by the need to roll back administrative expenditures on duplicate functions by foreign offices, the newspaper said. Another company source told Izvestia that all foreign refining businesses have been integrated into one structure, headquartered in Vienna.
Virtually, Lukoil Overseas has been liquidated as a managing center for foreign projects, with separate representative offices left in Norway, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria. According to Raiffeisenbank’s Andrei Polishchuk, the move to restructure Lukoil Overseas is connected to plans to slash the company’s foreign projects and "focus on Russian assets."
The Bank of Russia will most likely not be empowered with managing the country’s economic growth and employment, as implied in the headline-making bill proposed on extending the regulator’s responsibilities. According to two federal officials in the government’s financial and economic bloc speaking with Izvestia, the Finance Ministry has prepared a negative comment on the document. In the summer, deputies of Russia’s Orlov Region proposed widening the list of the Central Bank’s key targets.
Currently, the regulator is in charge of protecting and ensuring the ruble’s sustainability, developing and strengthening the banking system, and ensuring the development and stability of the national payment system and financial markets. According to Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house of parliament) Financial Market Committee, the government is responsible for economic growth, whereas the Central Bank has to create the background for GDP growth.
Konstantin Korishchenko, a professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), told the newspaper that the bill is indeed rather controversial. "It is impossible to be in charge of the economic growth, tackle inflation and maintain employment. This presents a great number of controversial requirements," he noted, adding that "the Central Bank may not even reach any one of the goals if it is saddled with all those responsibilities."
In a move to relocate production from Europe to Russia, the domestic luxury sportswear producer, Bosco di Ciliegi group has announced plans to invest in garment production in the Kaluga region the company’s CEO Mikhail Kusnirovich says the luxury niche segment is the first to feel shockwaves from shifts in consumer sentiment. He elaborated on the fact that we all live in a global world, and a downturn is definitely a global event, which does affect us. "When people in Paris or Berlin are not comfortable, it brings us closer to a situation where the civilized world has to defend itself. And this entire luxury niche, which we’re dealing with, is in demand only when life is peaceful," he explained.
Kusnirovich likened the market climate to Lebanon, which used to have a high-quality infrastructure and luxury-industry. "But war turned this ‘middle-eastern Switzerland’ upside down and this niche was no longer needed. And that is why we’re very sensitive to this. Any changes in sentiment affect us first and foremost. We’re the first in line that gets hit by any changes in climate, be it physical security, emotional or business climate," he said, adding that 2016 has demonstrated that "we all are one big world and our local problems are no longer local."
Speaking about local manufacturing content, the CEO said that it views it as "one more opportunity to take a crack as producers." "Our task is to take the technologies that we’ve developed over the past 25 years, and the level of zero tolerance for low quality that we’ve nutured, and make this a Russian production," he said. "I’m ready to enter the international market with a Russian brand, it’s cool, it’s interesting, and it confirms the quality," Kusnirovich said.
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