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The Federation Council is going to discuss "thwarting interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation" on June 7, sources told Kommersant. Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko will be presiding over the hearings. According to the newspaper, in the near future the Council will create a commission that in particular will monitor "any hostile activity by foreign states and international organizations." Experts believe that struggling against an "external enemy" might be used as a platform during the forthcoming presidential campaign.
Representatives of law enforcement agencies, special services and the Prosecutor General's Office have been invited to the hearings. A source in the Federation Council told Kommersant that the initiative is a result of recent meetings by Vladimir Putin with the leaders of Germany and France, where "the president categorically dismissed Russia's meddling in other countries’ affairs, saying that Russia itself is the target of active and calculated external interference. "
According to Kommersant, the Federation Council’s future commission will analyze Russian and international legislation and draft laws to "counter meddling in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation." The commission, according to the newspaper’s sources, will keep track of "hostile activity" of foreign states and entities against Russia.
This is an "enforced and exceptionally legal reaction" to "a sharp rise in outside activity against the upcoming presidential elections," Kommersant's sources said. Such "channels of influence" include "foreign and Western-loyal Russian media", as well as "non-governmental organizations that aim to whip up some protest sentiment in Russia."
Political Scientist Konstantin Kalachev believes that the image of an enemy and rallying against it "will be used in the coming presidential campaign." In addition, according to the expert, hopes for bettering relations with world leaders, including the presidents of the United States and France, have not been justified, and this "needs to be explained" and "can be linked to their hostile attitude toward Russia."
Foreign borrowers, whose identities remain under lock and key, have not returned more than $1 bln of debt that should have been repaid this year to the Russian government, RBC write citing government materials. The federal budget this year will not receive 53.9 bln rubles ($950 mln) "due to overdue debt to the Russian Federation from foreign borrowers," the explanatory note to the budget amendments said. In addition, the Finance Ministry did not receive a payment from one of the foreign debtors totaling 11.7 bln rubles, (more than $200 mln).
The government and the Finance Ministry are not disclosing which borrowers failed to return the money or how many there are. The program of Russian state loans is classified, in part because some of the loans are issued within the framework of military-technical cooperation. Professor at the Higher School of Economics Oleg Vyugin told RBC it could be a country that "obtained Russian defense products using Moscow’s loans."
Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak confirmed to RBC that someone did not return the loan to Russia on time, but refused to disclose the details. "We are not going to name this country, the program of state loans is classified," he explained.
Representative of the State Duma’s budget committee told RBC that the issue will be discussed in detail at its upcoming June 6 meeting.
As of January 1, 2017, foreign states and international legal entities owed $35.6 bln to Russian government authorities in loans, according to the Central Bank. More than 90% of this debt - are obligations to Russia on loans provided by the former USSR and the Russian Federation, according to the Accounts Chamber.
Transnistria’s NGOs appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting that the blockade imposed on the unrecognized republic by Moldova and Ukraine not be tightened further. Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that over the past six months of his presidency, Igor Dodon has failed to fulfil any of his promises regarding the region. Krasnoselsky noted that the Moldovan president supported the installation of Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoints on Transnistria’s border with Ukraine and the closing of the Moldovan Metallurgical Plant as a result.
According to the letter, Moldova and Ukraine with funding and expert-information supervision from the EU have begun setting up joint customs-border controls on the Transnistrian side of the Ukrainian border. The letter said that these actions were not coordinated with Tiraspol and violate the agreements reached in the 5+2 talks (Moldova and Transnistria being the parties, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE as the mediators, and the EU and USA as observers).
"All actions against Transnistria must be coordinated with Tiraspol, an agreement on this was reached through the 5+2 negotiations process. However, Moldova and Ukraine agreed on joint checkpoints on the Transnistrian section of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border among themselves, with the approval of the OSCE. Transnistria was not invited to discuss the issue," Krasnoselsky told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
According to Chairman of the People's Socialist Party of Moldova Viktor Stepaniuk, the deadlock between Chisinau and Tiraspol is due to the Moldovan president’s lack of authority. "Dodon prioritizes integration into the Eurasian Economic Union and the reintegration of the country, that is, to return Transnistria under Chisinau's control," the expert told the newspaper.
According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "Without the necessary powers, even with the support of the majority of the population, Dodon’s intentions remain just intentions. Transnistria does not see any real steps behind them."
Making cryptocurrencies legal in Russia would cut back the risk of its use in illegal financial transactions, Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank Dmitry Skobelkin said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
"Certainly, the difficulties with establishing an issuer of any cryptocurrency and the anonymity of payments significantly raises the risk of abusing such a low-transparent instrument. However, legalizing cryptocurrency is the right thing to do, because when even the most complex, risky things are placed in legal boundaries, there is a possibility to control it. And if we do not recognize something, and the whole world does, then we are vulnerable, even when the scale of its peril is unclear," Skobelkin noted.
According to him, it is necessary to streamline all avenues of carrying out transactions with cryptocurrencies and introduce special mechanisms that could help the public understand associated risks.
"An example of this approach is the recent amendments to the European Union’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive by the European Parliament," Skobelkin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
Gazprom has struck a deal with Iran’s NIOC to explore three gas fields - Farzad-B, North Pars and Kish. The company is also considering the possibility of supplying Iranian gas through Pakistan to India. However, so far, Tehran has not held any of the promised 52 oil and gas tenders, and delays approving a new framework of contracts with foreign investors, Kommersant wrote. According to experts, despite the uncertainty, it is important for Gazprom to get a foothold in the region in order to exclude competition with Iranian gas in the sales markets.
The newspaper’s source familiar with the situation said that the documents suggested how to develop the fields - Russia can enter the Farzad-B project in the Persian Gulf instead of the India’s ONGC Videsh, since the proposal did not suit Tehran. The reserves of the field are estimated at around 600 bln cubic meters. Cooperation with Iran is not only a political issue, but "Gazprom is seriously interested in the region and in these fields," the Kommersant source said.
These are the first agreements between Gazprom and Iran since the lifting of sanctions against Tehran in 2016, which limited the export of Iranian oil and gas. In addition to Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Tatneft and Zarubezhneft showed interest in these fields.
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