The presidential administration is looking at the possibility of a businessperson or a liberal candidate running in the upcoming election, two sources close to the Kremlin told Vedomosti business daily. Another source close to the Kremlin dodged the question on whether new liberal candidates would join the presidential race, but promising that the presidential campaign "would have more surprises."
Grigory Yavlinsky, the founder of the Yabloko party, was the first liberal candidate to announce plans to participate in the elections in 2018. In addition, a long list of presidential hopefuls have announced their intention to run like LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, TV presenter Kseniya Sobchak, leader of the Communists of Russia party Maksim Suraikin, business tycoon Sergey Polonsky, singer and journalist Yekaterina Gordon, and blogger Aleksey Navalny. The leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), Gennady Zyuganov, has repeatedly stated that his party would conduct its election campaign as a team and its candidate would be announced at the party congress in late December. The United Russia and A Just Russia parties have stayed mum on their participation in the election campaign so far. The incumbent, Vladimir Putin, has made no statements yet, either, about his participation or non-participation in the 2018 presidential election.
According to Levada sociologist Denis Volkov, Russian citizens don’t really care for a liberal candidate, though a certain group of Russians do want to see a candidate from the business community run. However, head of the All Russia Public Opinion Research Center Valery Fyodorov does not agree, saying that he sees no demand for a liberal or business candidate. A candidate from business circles is essential during a severe crisis when people are ‘grasping at straws’, he said, adding that the recent polls show that "this kind of candidate is not needed now." However, "if radical economic reforms are planned after the elections, such a candidate would be useful for convincing voters that significant economic reforms are necessary," Fyodorov said.
The West’s Anti-Russia sanctions harm the German economy, head of the AfD youth wing Markus Frohnmaier said in an interview with Izvestia daily. "According to estimates by German companies, the country has lost more than 42,000 jobs, and even certain businesses have gone bankrupt," he said, adding, "Sanctions obviously hurt the German economy and prevent our citizens from thriving." "Selling high-quality products on global markets has always been a staple of the Germany economy," the deputy added.
Moreover, the AfD party intends to initiate a resolution to lift the restrictions. "The removal of anti-Russia sanctions has always been an important component of our party’s foreign course, which is why I can firmly say that the party will submit this proposal. The Crimean issue is more complicated. The majority of western lawyers think that Crimea’s integration with Russia contradicts international law. I see it as a debatable question. For example, the west did not consider Kosovo’s separation to be a violation of Serbia’s territorial sovereignty. However, in contrast to lawyers’ views of the world, a political reality does exist. Crimea is part of Russia, which is not going to change. Obviously, Crimean locals lean towards Russia more than towards Ukraine. And no matter how the issue of settling relations with Russia is solved, one should come to grips with the fact that Crimea is Russian soil," he said, adding that the party would "support this settlement."
When asked about what he thought of NATO’s policy of beefing up its presence near Russia’s borders, Frohnmaier said that the party "detests NATO’s aggressive policy towards Russia." "Opposing Russia is not in Germany’s national interests as Berlin and Moscow have traditionally had good relations for centuries. The alliance should be holding dialogue with Russia instead of moving its troops and bases further to the east. Russia has never violated the sovereignty of NATO members, so nobody has any convincing arguments for considering Russia to be an aggressor," he stressed.
The standoff between head of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky and the republic’s Interior Minister Igor Kornet is unlikely to result in the minister resigning, Kommersant says citing a source in Moscow, who stated that Plotnitsky would return to Lugansk in the near future.
“He is one of the parties who signed the Minsk accords and is being promoted by Moscow in this status as one of the Donbass republics’ representatives, which Kiev should negotiate with,” the source said, adding that a change of LPR leadership now would be connected with "unadvisable costs."
However, another source would not explicitly assert that Plotnitsky would retain his post.
Earlier this week Igor Kornet said in a statement that the Interior Ministry of LPR had thwarted a plot by a group of Ukrainian saboteurs that planned to infiltrate the republic’s territory and carry out major terrorist attacks on its soil. Police also unveiled various connections between some high-profile officials and Kiev’s intelligence services. Plotnitsky though announced the dismissal of Kornet. One of Kommersant’s sources familiar with the talks between Moscow and Lugansk confirmed reports that Plotnitsky left for Russia "for consultations." Another source in Russia’s state structures also confirmed the information about Plotnitsky’s trip.
Russia’s S7 group, which owns the Sea Launch Cosmodrome and aviation assets, and the state-run Roscosmos space corporation reached an agreement to construct an orbital cosmodrome, Izvestia reported. A source in the rocket and space industry told the publication that head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov and CEO of S7 Space Transport Systems Sergei Sopov signed a respective letter of intent earlier this week. S7 representatives and the space corporation officially confirmed the information to Izvestia. "We have been successfully cooperating with S7 for a long time and plan to continue this partnership," a source in the corporation’s press service told the newspaper.
Another source familiar with the matter told Izvestia that S7 and Roscosmos have agreed to cooperation in the construction of a multi-functioned orbital complex focused on launches at the Sea Launch. In fact, the issue is about jointly developing an orbital cosmodrome project, he added. The complex will be used for assembly and fueling of space vehicles and their launch to other near-earth orbits as well as for Moon and Mars flights, the newspaper writes.
Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Andrey Ionin said the potential agreement would be unprecedented for Russia’s space industry. "This is going to be the first big agreement involving a large private investor in the Russian space industry. It is a unique situation not only for Russia, but for the whole world as a new stage requiring the creation of new rocket and space systems is coming," he said.
Pharmaceutical companies have warned of coming price hikes and reduced variety due to the introduction of labelling in 2019. Representatives of 10 local producers of budget medications have sent a letter to the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) speaker and Security Council Secretary, which says that the requirement on mandatory labelling is likely to push up prices for cheap locally-made drugs and even squeeze some of them out of the market, RBC business daily writes. According to the letter obtained by the newspaper, the producers do not oppose labelling of drugs, but ask to extend the introduction period and set up a transition period. Market participants warn they cannot afford taking out loans for new equipment.
The pilot project on labelling medicines has been in effect since February 2017. As of November 21, a total 252 market participants registered on the drug labelling system, which aims at protecting the market from falsified and counterfeit products and allowing customers to investigate just how legitimate the drugs that they buy are, RBC says. However, some producers feel that it is too early to impose the new requirement right now, as the experimental stage has not finished yet. "Prior to the end of the of the experiments and consideration of its results, the Russian government has submitted two bills to the State Duma, which proposes introducing a federal state monitoring system for all medications across Russia starting January 1, 2019," the letter says.
A source in the Industry and Trade Ministry’s press service told RBC that it is preparing proposals on providing loans to producers under reduced rates so that they could finance the purchases of any required equipment. "Proposals on the 2018 revised budget have been submitted," the source said. Though welcoming the initiative, market players doubt it will be implemented in due time. They also suggest that a transition period should be imposed at least until 2023.
Meanwhile, a source in the government told Kommersant that "it is hardly possible to implement such projects within a year since international experience demonstrates that this process takes two or three years in various countries." The source added that it would be wise to introduce mandatory labelling only for higher-priced drugs in 2018, which will not ramp up pressure on the system.
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