US President Donald Trump still seeks better relations with Russia, Alexis Rodzianko, President & CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, said in an interview with Izvestia daily. "There is still hope that the relationship between Russia and the United States will get better, though it has ‘ ‘become seriously distorted’," and the current environment around President Trump, "and pressure from the establishment has forced those plans onto the back burner," he said. "However, personally I think that the interests of both countries should push (the sides) to improving ties," Rodzianko added. When asked what Moscow could do to defuse the situation, he said that announcing a visa-free regime for US nationals would be a wise move. "Russia’s image would sharply improve, spurring on a flow of investment as people would come here to spend money and invest in the economy. Operations in Russia would become easier, so those elements in the US that are playing against Moscow would find it harder to push through any anti-Russia decisions," he emphasized.
According to Rodzianko, businesses from the US are eager to cooperate. "Russia is made up of 140-150 million consumers, and is the biggest market in Europe. Many would like to be present on the consumer market that will inevitably grow as personal incomes rise. Big companies producing consumer goods view it as a rich and huge market," he said. "Software producers see Russia as a knowledge center in the hi-tech area. Mathematicians are well-skilled here. If you are an IT company willing to produce something labor-intensive, and seek to make something rather mass and simple, go to India. However, if you want to create something complex, challenging, which requires a lot of mental effort, go to Russia," he told Izvestia. The CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce also stressed that energy, oil and gas have always played an important role for the US energy majors as they view the country as a strategically significant market. "Without being present on the Russian market you cannot consider yourself a global oil and gas player, and all giants - Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Total - have been here, are here, and will stay here," he stressed.
Russian civilian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who is currently serving a 20-year jail term at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey, constantly endures religious and ethnic discrimination, and has been refused visits by his friends and an Orthodox priest, he told Izvestia. "Apart from Russian diplomats, no one visits me, while US prisoners are visited several times a week. Also, inmates of other confessions use privileges that a Christian has never dreamed of. For example, religious holidays are held for Jewish people, a rabbi visits them all the time, and they even get special kosher food, whereas I have been trying to get an Orthodox Christian icon and a baptismal cross for Easter for six years already, and each year I was denied under various pretexts," he stressed, adding that he views it as "religious and ethnic discrimination."
Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in May 2010, and was later secretly transferred to the US. In April 2011, a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to smuggle a major drug shipment into the US, and sentenced him to 20 years behind bars. However, Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty as he considers his arrest a set-up and the case fabricated. A Christian priest Lyubo Miloshevich confirmed to the newspaper that he was denied a meeting with Yaroshenko in the summer of 2017. "They told me that my request and the special forms required that I had signed in order to visit him were lost. I received no notification. Now I am trying to repeat the whole procedure, which is very complicated and strange," he noted.
Spokesman for Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova, Alexey Zlovedov, told Izvestia that Moscow has not received any news about the Russian pilot for a long time so far. Earlier, Moskalkova sent an appeal to the US president asking him to pardon Yaroshenko. "We have no direct contact with Konstantin Yaroshenko. The information passes through the Russian Foreign Ministry’s channels. The process of receiving information about Russian prisoners has been hindered recently, and I think that the US side is simply not interested in it," Zlovedov said.
Moldova intends to submit a resolution urging the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria to the UN General Assembly, but Moscow is strongly against the initiative, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Kommersant. "Russia and many other responsible UN member-states are largely skeptical of this initiative, viewing it as a source that could potentially spark open tensions in the southeastern part of Europe," he said. According to Karasin, "the virtual solution to the Transnistrian issue is not in voicing ‘revolutionary’ proposals from the UN podium, with alien interests and intensions being obviously behind them, but in holding the 5+2 format meetings, which are an internationally acknowledged mechanism, a platform aimed at finding a viable settlement formula."
"I would stress that we are striving for a political settlement to the Transnistrian problem. Russia serves as a mediator and a guarantor based on the observed sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova," the deputy minister told the publication. “Any attempts by either side to shed responsibility for observing the provisions of the agreement on the peace deal’s principles made in 1992 amid the presently stalled dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol rekindle the threat of returning to a hot stage of the conflict,” he added. "We cannot allow the issue of Transnistrian settlement to become another item of geopolitical games with unpredictable far-reaching consequences," the diplomat warned, adding that "the dispute around the withdrawal of Russian military forces from the left bank of the Dniester is divorced from reality and ignores the opinion of Transnistrian citizens who view (Russian forces) as a guarantee for a peaceful existence."
Transnistria, a largely Russian-speaking region, broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its relations with Moldova’s central government in Chisinau have been highly mixed and extremely tense at times ever since then. In 1992 and 1993, tensions erupted into a bloody armed conflict that claimed lives of hundreds of people on both sides. The fratricidal civil war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in 1992 and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict zone. Negotiations on the conflict’s peaceful settlement known as the 5+2 format talks started after that. According to Karasin, "it was thanks to the actions of the Russian military forces that stopped the bloodshed in 1992." "For a quarter of a century, Russia’s military contingent has effectively ensured stability along the Dniester, which is especially important against the background of provocations made by supporters of various blockade schemes and other forceful ways of ending the Transnistrian standoff," he noted.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has drawn up a report assessing the country’s national security in terms of last year's maritime activities. The ‘military’ part of its report describes the current international political climate in detail, particularly “the course of the US and their allies aimed at limiting the geopolitical influence” of the Russian Federation, the rising tide of global terrorism, piracy and illegal migration as key ‘instability’ factors for the country, sources said. Among major challenges are “a potentially conceivable military conflict” with NATO countries, a complicated situation in the Azov-Black Sea region, Japan’s territorial claims, and the Arctic Council’s members and non-Arctic states attempting to expand military influence in the region.
"The role of the power factor is on the rise in global relations," the authors of the report said, adding that Russia is boosting its maritime potential for containing potential opponents and "ensuring international stability." All threats described in the document in detail will not go unheeded, the authors said, as the analysis of the Russian fleet’s potential opportunities has demonstrated positive dynamics for the last five years, Kommersant writes. However, according to the report, the area of navigational and hydrographic support is unstable, due to the lack of new ships, a weak development of "global information systems" for the fleet’s needs. There are no supplies of new equipment, the paper notes, and the matter is most pressing in the Arctic and Pacific regional areas.
A source close to the Navy Headquarters told Kommersant that the country’s leadership is concerned about the current rates of fleet renewal, but it will take time to solve the problem due to the general state of shipbuilding in the country. The report adds that despite "the rising threats to Russia’s national security" in the ocean and sea zones, the possibility of "mass-scale military actions" against Russia is minor, at least for the short-term. The report was submitted to members of the maritime board headed by Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin at the end of September, Kommersant’s sources said. After their consideration, the document will be submitted to President Putin.
Boris Karlov, who served as managing director of TPG Aurora investment fund in the 2000s, may become one of the investors of the distressed VIM Airlines, RBC business daily writes with reference to a government source. It was Karlov who prompted the appointment of the company’s new director general, Alexander Burdin, announced late last week, the source said, adding that Karlov plans to invest in the airline, only if the failed company receives state support. Vim Airlines needs to cover a 3-bln ruble ($52-mln) gap in order to be relaunched, the source said.
Russia’s tenth air carrier, VIM Airlines halted charter flights due to financial difficulties and a shortage of the working capital last week. This was preceded by a wave of flight delays in Russian and overseas airports. Vim-Avia’s CEO and chief accountant were placed under house arrest, while the company’s owners, Rashid and Svetlana Mursekayev, fled the country, so a criminal case has been opened on fraud charges.
Head of Avia.ru Internet portal Roman Gusarov considers it "next to impossible to continue the company’s operations" if the present business model is maintained. "Not only will all debts need to be repaid, but investment will have to poured into future operations," he stressed. "It was possible to transform the company earlier, but after the scandal no one will want to get involved with Vim-Avia. Passengers won’t fly, nor will airports and travel operators cooperate," the expert emphasized.
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