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Press review: Warplane accident in Syria and surprises in Russian presidential election

February 10, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday

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Turkish soldiers carry the national flag-draped coffin of the serviceman accidentally killed in a Russian airstrike around the northern Syrian town al Bab

Turkish soldiers carry the national flag-draped coffin of the serviceman accidentally killed in a Russian airstrike around the northern Syrian town al Bab

© Eyyup Burun/DHA-depo Photos via AP

 

Media: Russia, Turkey agree to exchange information in accident aftermath

Following the accident near the town of al-Bab where the anti-terrorist operation Euphrates Shield was conducted, Russian and Turkish chiefs of the general staff have agreed a closer coordination of actions in Syria and exchange of information on latest developments, Izvestia writes on Friday.

Three Turkish servicemen were killed and another eleven were wounded in an unintentional airstrike by a Russian warplane in northern Syria on Thursday. Frants Klintsevich, First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee for Defense and Security, told Izvestia that "a poor coordination in the forces" was the main reason for the accident. "I’m convinced that the Turkish side will empathize with the situation. On the other hand certain forces will inevitably use this accident to try and split our countries," he added.

Insufficient coordination may even cause losses within the forces of one country, deputy director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis Anatoly Khramchikhin told RBC. "Moreover, one can expect such accidents in a situation when the armies of different countries operate in a very tight region, like in al-Bab," the expert said. Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council international committee Konstantin Kosachev told the newspaper that he thinks that "the urgent and comprehensive response of the Russian President on the tragic incident will allow to avoid the worsening of bilateral relations, similar to the situation with the Russian ambassador assassinated in Ankara."

Head of the political department at the Center for Modern Turkish Studies, Yuri Mavashev, also says the worsening of Russian-Turkish relations is unlikely now. "We managed to endure the situation with downing of the Russia jet in 2015 and the recent assassination of the ambassador Andrei Karlov. The leadership of the two countries understood what is a deliberate act and what is a fatal coincidence. In al-Bab the Syrian pro-governmental forces are just several kilometers away from Turkey’s and the probability of accidents in high enough," he told Izvestia.

 

Kommersant: Transniestria asking Russia to audit public expenditures

The breakaway republic’s supreme council chairman Vadim Krasnoselsky has submitted a letter writes on January 23, to Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin where he asks for help in cutting high state expenditures of the unrecognized republic in Moldova, which have become "one of the key reasons for economic woes," according to Kommersant which obtained the letter. The document has already been submitted to Russia’s Finance Ministry for consideration. The matter may also be raised during the visit of the head of the republic’s government Alexander Martynov to Moscow which begins on Friday.

"I have to admit that the economic difficulties and unfavorable factors, including international ones that are directly affecting the Republic’s economy, mean low living standards," Krasnoselsky writes, mentioning a high level of state expenditures as one of the main factors. "Since the 2000s actual state expenditures increased from 38% to 50% of GDP, whereas in developing countries this norm is around 35-45%. In 2016, the share of state expenditures accounted to around 60% of GDP," he added. A new tax and budget policy strategy implies a reduction of state expenditures, Krasnoselsky says, adding that an audit of the efficiency of state expenditures is needed prior to this.

According to head of the committee on economic policy, budget and finances of the supreme council, Alexander Korshunov, the republic "has no professionals on structural reforms in government bodies of this level." "Our request to Russian colleagues is to give an expert estimation of the budget structure and potential cost optimization," he told Kommersant. The difficult economic situation forced the Transnistrian authorities to impose a policy of economic austerity in March 2015. Thus, public sector employees and pensioners were paid only 70% of their monthly wages and allowances.

Alexander Martynov also plans to discuss the issue of financial aid from Russia to the breakaway region later on Friday.

 

RBC: No surprise candidates expected during Russia’s presidential election

The Kremlin will not seek new candidates for the upcoming presidential election for higher voter participation, RBC business daily says with reference to sources.

The Presidential administration will not dissuade leaders of the Duma parties Gennady Zyuganov (Communist Party), Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Liberal Democratic Party) and Sergei Mironov (A Just Russia) to participate in the election and propose younger candidates, two sources close to Kremlin told the newspaper.

There is no one more famous than the parliamentary parties’ leaders, which means no other candidate will attract more voters, another source said.

Initially, even at the end of last year, the Kremlin did not rule out new candidates’ participation, the source said. However, researches highlighted that people are only familiar with Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky and Mironov among politicians, RBC writes. Another source told the newspaper that "the participation of one more candidate would mean a waste of resources."

 

Izvestia: Russia to allow foreign firms access to public procurements

The Economic Development Ministry is about to submit to the government a proposal on Russia’s joining the WTO agreement on public procurements, Izvestia daily writes. This implies that government bodies will not be able to set the country of origin as a requirement to goods, while the tenders will be available for foreign firms. Yelena Lashkina, assistant to the Economic Development Minister, told the newspaper that the Ministry is "at the final stage" of submitting the proposal to the government. "Only five okays are needed out of a few dozen, after which the proposal will be submitted to the Russian government. After the government’s approval the document will be submitted to WTO headquarters in Geneva," she said.

Lashkina did not specify which sectors could see foreign companies allowed to participate in public tenders. A source close to the Ministry told Izvestia the ministry is already considering specific areas. For example, restrictions for purchases of foreign cars could be lifted, though retained for food purchases. At the moment, Russian legislation prohibits public procurements of cars, food and software. Also, the Industry and Trade Ministry has initiated to restrict purchases of foreign furniture.

Valery Abramov, professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), told the newspaper that the move could negatively affect the import substitution policy. "Public procurements are a huge part of the economy. They total around 1.5 trillion rubles ($25 bln) each year. Once foreigners get access it will be more difficult to implement the import substitution strategy," he said, adding though that Russia has "assumed obligations to join the agreement" when it became a WTO member. However, the initiative can turn out positive as well, as high competition raises the price/quality ratio, which saves budget funds, Izvestia writes.

 

Kommersant: Airlines to invest in Moscow airports

Russia’s government is seeking a source of investment for airport infrastructure at the Moscow air hub, and may hike fees in concession agreements, Kommersant says with reference to board chairman and co-owner of Vnukovo International Airport Vitaly Vantsev. Depending on the time of infrastructure construction, airports will discuss the size of the investment component with the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and the Federal air transport agency (Rosaviatsiya), in order to avoid "an uncontrolled increase of the tariff," he told the newspaper.

The new mechanism has already been discussed at the meeting with First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov this week, Kommersant writes. FAS is currently involved in adjusting the regulatory framework. According to a source in the antimonopoly regulator, "the proposal was made by operators, the service will study financial models and present its proposals on changes in the regulatory base to provide guarantees to investors and protect consumers."

Vantsev told the newspaper that at the moment airfield operations fee rates are the lowest in Russia in the airports of the Moscow air hub. A representative of Russia’s S7 airline told the newspaper that the new tariff will increase the prime cost and thus, the ticket price.

 

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

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