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Press review: CAS dashes Russian athletes’ hopes and China’s petro-yuan to ditch US dollar

February 09, 2018, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

top stories in the Russian press on Friday, February 9

1 pages in this article
© Sergei Bobylyov/TASS


Kommersant: CAS upholds Olympic ban on Russian athletes for PyeongChang Games

Russia’s hopes that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would judge in its favor, after having already sided with Moscow in its legal battle with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), were dashed Kommersant wrote. On the opening day of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the court refused to let 45 Russian athletes and 2 coaches participate. The plaintiffs tried to challenge the decision of the IOC commissions to ban them from the Olympics even as neutral athletes, despite the absence of any "doping background". Thus, the Russian team in PyeongChang, as expected, will have a much more weakened composition.

According to the newspaper, the January proceedings in CAS, when the court lifted lifelong bans on 28 Russian athletes and returned a significant part of Sochi's medals lost due to sanctions to Russia, offered a glimmer of hope for a different ruling. At the time, in many respects the defense was built on the same arguments.

However, this time CAS did not back Russia. Explaining the decision to uphold the ban on 45 athletes, the court noted that it did not consider the process of issuing special invitations to participate in the Olympics to be a "sanction" measure invented by the IOC. According to CAS, ""Although the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended, the IOC nevertheless chose to offer individual athletes the opportunity to participate in the Winter Games under prescribed conditions - a process that was designed to balance the IOC’s interest in the global fight against doping and the interests of individual athletes from Russia."

According to Kommersant, it is noteworthy that the same 32 athletes who applied to CAS first, filed a similar claim with the court of first instance in Lausanne. In the appeal, the applicants asked to take urgent security measures "in order to prevent irreparable consequences". That is, to give them an opportunity to compete in PyeongChang. Sources in the legal community told the newspaper, that they believe there is actually a chance that a civil court would take their side. However, in any case, there is not enough time to admit Russian athletes to the Olympics.

Thus, the team of 168 Russian athletes, as expected, will have to attend the Winter Olympics in a weakened composition. According to Kommersant, there are probably more potential medalists among the people who did not manage to go to PyeongChang, than among those who successfully passed the IOC "filter".


Izvestia: Japan, US fear North Korea may use Olympics to steer Seoul away from allies

Tokyo plans to press Seoul to take a tough line towards Pyongyang, despite the emerging ‘Olympic warming’ of relations between the two Koreas, the Japanese Foreign Ministry told Izvestia. In particular, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, attending the opening of the Olympics in PyeongChang, intends to urge South Korean leader Mun Zhe Ying not to abandon joint military maneuvers with the US, despite a certain relief in the dialogue with North Korea. Tokyo and Washington believe that the "olive branch" extended by the North Korean authorities is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from its nuclear and missile programs, and at the same time drive a wedge into the unity between the US and its allies in Asia.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry’s press office told Izvestia that they would like to make sure Pyongyang has no other choice than to change its policy. The Japanese diplomatic department welcomes the inter-Korean dialogue and participation of the North Korean national team in the Winter Olympics. However, at the same time it urges Seoul not to be forget about North Korea’s nuclear and missile development program. The Ministry told Izvestia, that Pyongyang might try to mitigate sanctions and receive financial assistance, as well as hinder joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea, to drive a wedge between the countries.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) told the newspaper, that the organization provides financial and material support to the members of the North Korean Olympic Committee (22 athletes, 24 sports officials and 21 media representatives). However, the total number of the North Korean delegation, which includes politicians far from sports, comes to around 550 people. Hence, Seoul ends up shouldering the major costs for hosting the delegation, which in the past has traditionally sponsored North Korea in various international sports competitions on its territory.

Such a sharp turn from confrontation to dialogue worries not only Japan. The United States, succumbing to the persuasion of South Korean President Moon Jae-in in December to postpone the joint US-South Korean military exercises until the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, fully shares Japan’s reservations, the newspaper wrote.

Stephen Nagy, an expert with the Tokyo Christian University and the Asia Pacific Foundation in Canada, told Izvestia, that the North Korean regime has strengthened its positions on the peninsula, making it more difficult for American, South Korean and Japanese politicians to develop a unified approach to Pyongyang.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Beijing plans to deal major blow to US dollar, catch Russia in-between

In the spring, China might launch trading crude oil futures in yuan. The Chinese press announced the introduction of the "petro-yuan", with an eye on how it will undermine the power of "petro-dollar" and help Beijing take pricing under its control. Against the backdrop of record oil imports, which reached almost 9.6 mln barrels per day in January, this is especially timely for China, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. At the same time, expert opinions on petro-yuan validity vary. Some believe it might help Russia or at least not harm it, while others think that it might make Russia dependent on the Chinese currency.

Thus, according to Assistant Professor at RANEPA Sergey Hestanov, the petro-yuan will not emerge in the near future, for at least 3-5 years. Moreover, China's largest trading partner is the United States, and it has no reason to oppose the dollar. "Even if certain volumes of oil are purchased in yuan, it is only as an experiment," the expert told the newspaper.

Although some experts believe, Beijing's innovation is viable. "We believe that this idea is realistic, and practical measures are already being mapped out," Deputy Director at Alpari Analytical Department Natalia Milchakova told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Similarly, the emergence of the petro-yuan might affect Russia’s economy. "Such changes will lead to an increase in the role of the yuan in Russian foreign trade, a growth of yuan’s share in reserves and, as a result, dependence of the Russian economy on the Chinese economy will grow," Chief Economist of BCS Financial Group Vladimir Tikhomirov told the newspaper. If this happens, Russia might become dependent not only on the dollar, but also on the yuan. "Export loans would go up, and importers will dictate the terms of contracts to a greater extent," Freedom Finance analyst Georgy Vaschenko told the newspaper.

By the same token, some analysts hope for a positive effect. "This would be beneficial for Russia, since mutual settlement of accounts between our two countries in yuan would become a more convincing example for the rest of the oil exporters and importers than cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China," Milchakova told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.


Izvestia: Russian lawmakers to report on foreign interference in presidential election

The Commission of the Russian Federation Council for the Prevention of Interference in the Internal Affairs is planning to present a report at the end of April on foreign meddling in Russia's internal affairs during the presidential election, Izvestia wrote referring to Head of the temporary Commission Andrei Klimov.

"By the end of April, we will publish a special report on the topic of interference in Russia’s internal affairs during the presidential election once they are announced by the Federation Council. The senators will put forward a detailed analysis of the mechanisms of overseas influence during the presidential vote," Klimov told Izvestia.

In addition, according to him, another report on meddling in Russia's domestic affairs will also be drawn up. The ‘open’ part will be published in late February. The risks of external influence on young people, foreign provocation for a protest agenda and interreligious conflicts, as well as mechanisms to influence the presidential elections will be included in the ‘closed’ part of the report.

According to Klimov, the report will be presented to the presidential administration, the State Duma, the Central Election Commission and the Russian government.

The senators also suggest amending current legislation to break down the notion of "interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation." At present, Klimov reiterated that this term does not exist in Russian law, which ties legislators’ hand regarding a parliamentary investigation.


Kommersant: Russian venture fund invests in Indian fitness start-up

Despite the forthcoming payments Sistema has to make under the amicable agreement with Bashneft, the holding does not intend to stop investing in the venture market. The Sistema Asia Fund, together with partners, including South Korea’s Samsung, invested $12 mln in an Indian developer of the health and fitness application HealthifyMe, Managing Director and Partner at Sistema Asia Fund Kirill Kozhevnikov told Kommersant, HealthifyMe Co-founder Tushar Vashisht confirmed the information. Investors believe the segment’s potential in Asia is huge.

HealthifyMe is the largest digital fitness platform in India: according to its own data, its user base totals 4 mln people, and the number of active users per month exceeds 1 mln. The annual gross revenue of HealthifyMe is $4.5 mln.

The funding will be used to expand HealthifyMe’s presence in India and will help it start working in other emerging markets such as the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and in English-speaking countries, according to the Sistema Asia Fund. In addition, the company plans to diversify by launching a line of health food products, diagnostics and insurance services.

Consumer-oriented health-related technology is currently one of the "hottest investments", Flint Capital partner Andrew Gershfeld told Kommersant, adding that "the biggest IT companies - Apple, Amazon and Google - are engaged in this sphere." The popularization of ‘quantified self’ technologies showing health data is gaining momentum, he noted, and Asia is a densely populated region, "where the potential for collecting such data and building business using it is tremendous."



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

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