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Moscow may cut back its handouts to the Council of Europe (CoE) due to the fact that the Russian delegation does not participate in the meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Izvestia said referring to the State Duma Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky.
"Currently our contribution to the Council of Europe is not divvyed up, whether it is for the participation in the Committee of Ministers, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights or PACE. However, if we do not return to participating in the latter, it makes no sense to pay for it," Slutsky noted.
The Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe told Izvestia about the inexpediency of contributions to the organization where a country does not participate. "In connection with the extended non-participation of the Russian parliamentary delegation in PACE, it is natural to question the amount Russia contributes to the budget of the assembly," the Mission told the newspaper.
At the same time, CoE representative Tatyana Baeva told Izvestia that the international organization has not yet seen the initiative from Russia.
In April 2014, Russia’s representatives lost their basic powers in PACE due to the events in Ukraine and the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. In 2015, PACE twice considered the question of restoring the Russian delegation’s rights, but the sanctions remained in force.
The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) held a summit in Istanbul on Monday with the participation of the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The head of the Russian government urged all of the 12 BSEC member states to turn the Black Sea region into a "zone of stability and prosperity" and "draw real benefits for their economies from their maritime neighborhood." According to Kommersant, territorial disputes between the countries had a direct impact on the preparation and outcome of the regional summit.
The conference’s host, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tried to round out rough corners, urging his colleagues to focus on economic cooperation and "keep the BSEC away from political disagreements".
However, Ukraine's First Vice Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv in response to a politically neutral speech by the Russian prime minister blamed Moscow for undermining regional cooperation, adding that it is impossible to talk about peace and stability in the region without restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Experts interviewed by the newspaper noted that regional disputes between BSEC member states hinder the organization’s development. Accordingly, Turkish foreign policy expert at Istanbul's Galatasaray University Ali Faik Demir told the newspaper, that around 20 working groups on various fronts currently co-exist in the BSEC. Today, the BSEC is important for Turkey primarily as “an organization that works towards actualizing regional energy and tourism projects,” the expert said.
In turn, Russia has been focusing on the development of a high-speed highway around the Black Sea, Kommersant said. “For Russia it’s a project to boost its image, enabling it to lobby for breaking down the sanctions, presenting itself as a country ready to cooperate with any state on mutually beneficial terms," Kommersant’s source in BSEC’s structures said.
Sources in the Russian delegation interviewed by the paper agree that the main problem in the organization’s work is the bilateral disputes between its members, as well as the anti-Russian sanctions. In addition, three out of the 12 BSEC member countries are EU members as well.
Representatives of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) opened a joint venture office in Shanghai that will run the program of a new generation of wide-body long-range aircraft. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, it is unlikely that Russia will have full rights to manufacturing the aircraft, since China will have the dominant role in its design, production, marketing and maintenance.
It is expected that the new aircraft will compete with the likes of Airbus and Boeing, and will occupy a significant market share not only in Russia and China, but in other countries as well. The aircraft’s final assembly will be in Shanghai. The total budget of the program comes to around $13 bln, with funding anticipated to be conducted through national companies.
According to the newspaper, the final assembly in Shanghai means that "the public will consider the aircraft to be Chinese", since only production is the most widely-known information about the product.
Experts, interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, believe that Russia's desire to strengthen technical cooperation with China not only in aviation, but also in other economic sectors is understandable. "There is a shortage of our own production capacities and financing," First Vice President of the Russian Union of Engineers Ivan Andrievsky told the newspaper.
"Russia cannot support such large-scale projects for a number of reasons - the sluggish outcome in promoting the SSJ, sanctions barriers, and the economic crisis, which does not make it possible to attract new investors to such projects," Partner at NEO Center consulting group Alexander Raksha told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, Russia will benefit from this venture by creating prerequisites for its development and upgrading its own aircraft industry.
The UAC expects that the first flight of the Russian-Chinese new generation airliner will occur within a decade.
Cyprus’ former top diplomat Giorgos Lillikas became the first official candidate running in the Cypriot presidential election in 2018. In an interview with Izvestia, he spoke about the effects of the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions on Cyprus and possible avenues of development for the European Union.
According to Lillikas, Cyprus welcomes Russian tourists with open arms and maintains friendly ties with Russia in general. Both countries are making every effort to create “favorable conditions for our friendship and cooperation to move forward,” he told the newspaper. “We have always been a friendly country to Russia and advocated for strategic relations between Brussels and Moscow,” he said.
The sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union and the countermeasures in response to that policy have damaged the country’s economy. “Cyprus has always been serious about the Russian economy,” Lillikas said. The countries were always highly interdependent in the financial and economic spheres - not only in tourism, but also in the field of business investment, as well as in the defense industry. “We hope that relations between the EU and Russia will be restored soon,” he told Izvestia.
According to the Cypriot ex-top diplomat, the EU currently has no clear reference point and development trajectories. “The European Union can no longer timely respond to numerous highly significant challenges, such as economic problems, the surge in extremism and the migration crisis,” he told the newspaper.
According to members of the Russian Government’s Expert Council, it is necessary to revise the draft of the Digital Economy state program, developed in order to create at least ten companies dubbed "national champions" in Russia’s hi-tech field. According to Kommersant, they believe that in its current form, the document does not take into account the global nature of economic development and industry risks such as the Yarovaya law.
According to experts, the digital economy should affect all spheres of socio-economic activity, and the draft program limits its development only to state regulation. In addition, the program takes into account only conservative scenarios, suggesting that “nothing new and significant will happen in IT that could affect society and the economy."
The Russian Telecommunications Ministry told Kommersant that the program sets the development’s goals and objectives of just key institutions that create conditions for building the digital economy.
Not only have government experts questioned the state program, "the issue of layoffs due to the digitalization of industries and the question of re-training personnel have also not been worked out," Sergey Alimbekov, Deputy Director with the Foundation for Development of Internet Initiatives (FDII) told Kommersant. According to him, the current version of the program fails to account for the gaps in the current legislation. Building up the digital economy will be difficult without improved systems of copyright and intellectual property protection.
"In general, the draft program presents a set of aspirations by specific participants, with only some regard towards the common problems that telecom companies face,” a source close to the project told Kommersant.
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