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Press review: Iran may rock Turkish Stream’s boat and how Russia-US ties sway Poland

October 23, 2017, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, October 23

1 pages in this article
© Ruslan Shamukov/TASS


Izvestia: Ex-Polish PM calls for enhancing Russia-US relations

Better ties between Moscow and Washington will be a step towards improving relations between Russia and other US allies, Former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller said in an interview with Izvestia daily. "There is an opinion inside (Polish) society that Moscow is pursuing an aggressive policy and may move against Poland at any moment. I have repeatedly tried to explain that Russia has no territorial claims against our country, and on the whole it has no reasons to launch any action against Warsaw," he said. "I think that first of all relations should be established between the United States and Russia as the whole world has its eyes fixed on this relationship. If Washington and Moscow start a partnership I think Russia’s relations with other US allies will get better," Miller added.

When asked whether it is possible for Warsaw and Moscow to reach agreements without Washington, he said, "If I became Prime Minister again, I would first of all try to solve the issue of the presidential plane crash in Smolensk, which is one of the most pressing problems for Poland. The aircraft wreckage is still in Russia. Without a final fact-finding mission on the crash that killed then Polish President Lech Kaczynski in 2010 it is hardly possible to expect any serious warming in relations between Russia and Poland." Speaking about the sanctions policy, the ex-premier said that he views it as a weak strategy. "They adversely affect common citizens first and foremost, not the leadership of any country.  For example, many Polish exporters who supply agriculture products to the Russian market, suffered from anti-Russia sanctions. They were forced to look for new markets, less profitable for them from the viewpoint of supplies and logistics," Miller said, adding that sanctions do not solve problems, which is why it is necessary to find ways for dialogue.

According to the former Polish prime minister, the situation regarding Crimea seems to be deadlocked now. "Russia will not give up Crimea, while the present leadership of Ukraine says that it will never acknowledge the events of 2014, and the West backs Kiev," he said. "Believe me, I don’t know how to solve this matter either. This reminds me of the Kosovo issue, which has not been fully sorted out yet. Meanwhile, I realize that the majority of western countries have recognized Kosovo despite the fact that no referendum had been held," Miller said, adding that "this is a good example of double standards in global politics."


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Tehran’s midstream motives may fuel discord in Russian-Turkish gas deal

While Russia and Turkey are on the verge of ironing out currently pressing issues in economic cooperation, particularly restrictions on tomato supplies to Russia, poultry and beef imports to Turkey, and construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine, experts warn that the apparent economic detente between the countries is not final as many decisions are still being discussed, Nezavisimaya Gazeta says. Thus, what has been announced as of yet is that the Russian government only hopes that the protocol on the construction of the overland section of Turkish Stream’s second thread will be endorsed by the end of this year. However, along with Ankara’s unpredictability, Tehran’s ambitions may get in the way of those plans, the newspaper writes, adding with reference to analysts that Iran is an important player in the ‘confidential talks’ on the Turkish Stream, while Turkey is reluctant to provide Gazprom with a monopolistic right to fill the pipe of this ‘stream’, and proposes engaging Qatar and Iran in the project.

Experts interviewed by the paper are split in their opinions. Kirill Yakovenko, an analyst at Alor Broker, is confident that "a halt in the Turkish Stream (implementation) is out of the question." "Iran would like to have grounds allowing it to fill this pipeline with its gas, but there are none as of now," he said. "The terms of the pipeline construction have always been vaguely framed by the Turkish side, though this relates to the precarious position of Erdogan and the ruling party," Yakovenko says, adding that Russia’s position is much stronger in any case, since Moscow can ‘fence’ with several gas projects.

Director of the Institute of Contemporary Economics Nikita Isayev is less optimistic, saying that "in the case of Turkey one cannot be 100% confident that the pipeline is not being constructed in vain." "President Erdogan’s stance may change any second, depending on a variety of unpredictable factors," he said. According to Delovaya Rossiya’s Vice President Tatyana Mineeva, "Turkey is Moscow’s most challenging partner, and anything may happen, depending not only on bilateral relations between the countries, but also on the domestic situation in Turkey. Isayev assumes that "anti-Russia sanctions and potential supplies of the US LNG to Europe are a trump card for Turkey." "Turkey is interested in allowing Iran to fill the pipeline with its gas so that Russia and Iran would compete and be ready for higher tariffs," he added.


RBC: Moscow-based think tank chief to pen Sobchak’s economic program

Vladislav Inozemtsev, Founder and Scientific Director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Society Studies, will draw up an economic program for Ksenia Sobchak, who announced plans to toss her hat into the 2018 presidential race last week, RBC business daily wrote on Monday citing two sources close to Sobchak’s team. "Apart from Inozemtsev many respected people have been engaged, each of them being a leader in his or her field," one of the sources said. The other added that the team is "only being formed," and that Sobchak is "a challenging client."

Vitaly Shkliarov, a political consultant who worked on Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Angela Merkel’s campaigns, told the newspaper that Ksenia Sobchak invited him to her team a week ago. "I will be responsible for working with young people and engaging as many of them as possible," he said, adding that his responsibility covers those "18-year olds who were born when Putin was inaugurated." Despite earlier reports that Alexey Sitnikov, who had worked for Mikhail Saakashvili and Yulia Timoshenko, may head Sobchak’s team, Sitnikov himself could not confirm this information to RBC. The presidential candidate is searching for "a strong political consultant with work experience both in Russia and with opposition (parties) throughout the world, which would be understandable to the West and independent of (Russian) authorities," Sitnikov told the publication.

Head of the Political Expert Group Konstantin Kalachev considers the choice of each of those experts reasonable. "Shkliarov will probably have to show that he is not connected to the Kremlin, while Sitnikov will provide communication with the presidential administration, and Inozemtsev is simply a prominent economist," he told RBC. All experts involved are to demonstrate "the campaign’s solidity," he stressed.


Izvestia: Russian Academy of Sciences projects economic growth to soar by 2021

Russia’s average annual economic growth will be hovering at 3.7% over the 18-year period of 2017-2035, according to an outlook prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Izvestia writes. Growth is expected to peak at nearly 5% per annum in 2021-2025, with investment, household consumption, industrial growth, construction and services likely to rise ahead of schedule, the report says. A source in the government’s financial and economic bloc told the newspaper that if the Digital Economy program together with the current economic measures to encourage private investment, non-resources export and to boost labor efficiency should be successfully implemented, it is realistic to reach those economic growth figures.

According to Deputy Director of Institute of Economic Forecasting at RAS, Alexander Shirov, who is one of the authors of the report, higher-than-anticipated growth is achievable after 2021 due to a post-crisis economic recovery. "The economic recovery will mean that the state and population have obtained financial resources, which will make it possible to raise the investment share in GDP to 25%, but once later on when investments peak by 2025, growth rates will slow down," he said. The document also projects a change in the structure of the country’s GDP by 2035, which is currently formed mainly by productive and non-productive services. The outlook implies that their share will decline in the future, while the amount of high-tech output in the GDP structure will rise.

Experts surveyed by Izvestia were skeptical about the outlook provided by the Russian Academny of Sciences. Raiffeisenbank's Stanislav Murashov expects the projected growth rates to be attained only if the oil price returns to $100 per barrel. "We are restricted by oil prices of $60 per barrel, and the state will have no opportunity to invest. In order to boost growth, investments to the tune of 5 trillion rubles ($87 bln) are needed annually," he said, adding that "such funds are not available at the moment." Valery Mironov, Deputy Director of the Center for Development Institute of the Higher School of Economics, agrees with the view, adding that structural reforms are also necessary to reach growth rates above 3%. "It is necessary to reform the banking system for creating new investment banks to attract foreign investment. A new type of banking system based on capital stock, not on private deposits, will be required for this," the expert said. 


Kommersant: New smartphone OS may be promoted in Russia’s corporate, state sectors

As a new Accione smartphone on the Russian mobile operating system Sailfish has been presented in Bolivia, head of Open Mobile Platform (OMP), the developer of the Russia version of Sailfish Pavel Eyges announced plans to bring the new smartphone to the Russian market early next year. According to Eyges, Accione will be primarily available for Russian customers in the corporate and state sectors.

"Today at least 95% of mobile technologies in Russia depend on foreign suppliers. The main advantage of the smartphone is that the operating system has no reliance on foreign services. Our customers may build a fully independent mobile infrastructure for a company or a public body based on Sailfish Mobile OS RUS," Eyges told Kommersant, adding that the company expects the products to reach around 2 mln officials, several million state employees, as well as in state-owned and several private firms.

"We are aiming for the creation of a local mobile system and corporate solutions based on it," he noted. According to Eyges, "this is an important step towards restoring Russia’s digital sovereignty." "We seek to fully replace foreign mobile solutions in the state sector and Russian companies. Technically, this is realistic within 5-10 years’ time," he said. Plans are in store to potentially present the new smartphone to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his upcoming visit to Bolivia, Kommersant writes.


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

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