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Press review: US-made weapons in Aleppo and Russia's breakthrough cancer drug

December 29, 2016, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, December 29

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© SANA via AP

Izvestia: US-made weapons uncovered in liberated Aleppo

The Syrian army discovered huge stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, manufactured mainly in the United States, in the liberated regions of eastern Aleppo, a high-ranking source in the Syrian security forces told Izvestia daily. So, now speculations about potential arms supplies to the region disguised as supposed humanitarian aid are being validated, the newspaper writes.

"We uncovered arms caches worth around millions of dollars, the bulk of which is US-made," the source told Izvestia, adding that it came as no surprise for Damascus. "We’ve repeatedly said that terrorists in Aleppo, usually dubbed ‘the moderate opposition," had received arms from Turkey, which had been bankrolled by a number of Gulf monarchies. Also, some of the munitions were siphoned off from the Syrian army’s storage depots," the source said.

"Now that the stockpiles are under the control of the Syrian military this is going to be publicly acknowledged," Russian orientalist and former diplomat Vyacheslav Matuzov says, "and questions now arise as to where the militants got the American, and the reportedly Bulgarian weapons?" "Also, Turkey just announced it has evidence that the Americans had provided IS with military aid. In this respect, it will be interesting to see the reactions of the outgoing US administration and a number of international organizations, which reported about crimes of Damascus and Moscow against humanitarian convoys," the expert mused.

 

Izvestia: NASA experts to join probe into Progress launch accident

Russia’s State Space Corporation, Roscosmos, has decided to include NASA experts into the investigation surrounding the reasons behind the crash of the Soyuz-U carrier rocket and the Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft in early December, Izvestia writes. According to CEO of Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation (part of Roscosmos) Vladimir Solntsev, "the crash is rather complicated in terms of understanding the processes in a limited period of time as the issue is about milliseconds."

"We’ve attracted our American partners from NASA to the probe of the causes behind the accident," Solntsev said, adding that NASA experts had stated "they had never witnessed such a crash happening within such a short period of time." A source in NASA told Izvestia that the agency is involved in the crash investigation as the issue at hand concerns the safety of both the Russian and American members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew.

The Progress MS-04 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan by a Soyuz-U carrier rocket to deliver about 2.5 tonnes of various cargoes to the ISS was lost at an altitude of 190 km above the southern Siberian republic of Tuva. Most of its fragments burned up in the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Breakthrough skin cancer medicine undergoes clinical testing in Russia

The global fight against cancer has gotten some new firepower. Russia is working to tackle cancer by focusing on biopharmaceuticals with a brand new mechanism other than traditional chemotherapy, the country’s specialists have been testing a breakthrough medicine to treat melanoma for two months already, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes with reference to Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova. According to the Minister, the medicine has been demonstrating exceptional results even for advanced cancers with metastatic lesions.

A source that is involved in clinical testing told the newspaper that "the new medicine is twice as efficient as conventional therapy." "The majority of patients with metastatic melanoma virtually face a death-warrant as today’s cancer therapy usually uses chemotherapy, which can only retain metastases in 10-20% of cases," company representative said. The new medicine may be widely used for treating cancer by 2018 as clinical tests have been successful so far, he added.

 

Vedomosti: Russia on track to reap record grain harvest

This year the country’s grain yield may top 119 mln tonnes, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s forecasts, and wheat exports are expected to amount to 29 mln tonnes (as stated by the US Department of Agriculture) making Russia the biggest global wheat exporter, Vedomosti business daily writes. However, some exporters say it is cost-prohibitive to supply grain abroad, as "there has been almost no margin since the start of this season."

According to Igor Pavensky, Deputy Director of the Department for Strategic Marketing at Rusagrotrans (a rail operator that transports raw materials), on the whole each month of this season Russia’s grain exports were lower than in 2015, except for November. The main reason for the underperformance is that exporters were not satisfied with domestic and export prices, given that last month export prices strengthened, as the ruble weakened. A total of 19.01 mln tonnes of grain were exported from July to December 21, 2016, which turned out to be 2.1% lower than last year, the Agriculture Ministry says citing the customs service, and another 35 mln tonnes is expected to be supplied until the end of this agricultural season (June 30, 2017).

ProZerno CEO Vladimir Petrichenko says the global market environment is rather challenging now as prices have been sliding for the past four seasons. The ruble’s devaluation two years ago improved the situation, but in end-2016 the Russian currency strengthened, making local prices converted into dollars lower. This resulted in a slump in sales since grain producers expected some growth in prices, the expert says. Because of that, Pavensky warns, Russia may not be able to unlock its grain export potential.

 

Kommersant: New flight control center near Moscow gets green light

Following four years of intensive efforts, Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia) and Almaz-Antey have wrapped up trials of a new Mission Control Center, Kommersant business daily says. A special commission declared the system of air traffic management over Moscow’s skies to be "adequate and suitable for regular exploitation." Also, a new system of control over planes in Moscow expected to double the acceptance rate, may be launched in the autumn, the newspaper writes.

According to Kommersant, the new Mission Control Center will replace the one set up back in 1981 with its longevity exhausted in 1996. Initially, plans were in store to upgrade the system in 2013. Now, the intention is to launch the Center in March 2017. Construction started in 2007, and two years later, Almaz-Antey was selected as the principal contractor. A total of 3.5 bln rubles ($57.9 mln) have been shelled out on the construction.

 

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

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