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Press review: Israel pleads not guilty to Russia and Kabul to meet Taliban in Moscow

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday

Kommersant: Israel presents proof of non-involvement in Il-20 tragedy to Moscow

On Thursday, Moscow hosted talks between representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and an Israeli military delegation led by the country's Air Force Commander, Major-General Amikam Norkin. The Israelis brought a 40-page report to shed light on the incident with the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft shot down over the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. According to them, the materials point to Israel's non-involvement in the tragedy, Kommersant wrote.

In particular, according to the Israeli version, the Syrian missile that shot down the plane was launched almost an hour after the Israeli F-16 fighters left for their base. However, the Russian military, who previously claimed that the Il-20 had been shot down during the attack by Israeli aircraft, did not withdraw their accusations against Israel, at least publicly.

Meanwhile, the day after the tragedy in Latakia, the media reported that a failure in the "friend or foe" identification system could have caused the tragedy. Former Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Air Defense Forces Aitech Bizhev told the newspaper this would not be possible, and backed the statement by Chief Spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov. "Each object has its own personal recognition system - our Il-20 had its own, and the Syrian S-200 had its own. They do not automatically recognize each other, so this requires a special request and matching codes that change regularly," he noted.

Israeli military expert Andrey Kozhinov in an interview with Kommersant noted that the F-16s had no need for cover behind a Russian plane. According to him, even without any cover, the Israelis have inflicted over 200 blows in Syria over the past 18 months and technically the F-16 could not have hidden behind the slow-moving Il-20. The expert noted that, according to the official statements by both the Russian and Israeli militaries, there are many inconsistencies specifically in height, time, and distance.

Nevertheless, according to Kommersant, both countries' militaries agreed to continue coordinating their actions in Syria and to carry on implementing the system of deconflictization.


Izvestia: Afghan officials to meet Taliban in Moscow

Diplomats continue to hammer out all the details for a new meeting in Moscow on the Afghan settlement. Kabul is upbeat on participating in the upcoming conference, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Izvestia, commenting on the results of the consultations with Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Nasir Ahmad Andisha on September 20. The envoy noted that the conference's composition is now being put together.

The exact date of the meeting is still unknown, but Afghan officials declared their readiness to meet with representatives of the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), Kabulov said. "Kabul is determined to participate in the Moscow-hosted meeting. Now we are in the process of developing modalities for this participation. Currently, the main thing is not the date, but the content, so this is the part that we are working on," he told Izvestia.

The international meeting for a settlement on the Afghan crisis was expected to take place in Moscow on September 4. However, a few days before the visit to Moscow, Kabul refused to participate in the conference. Presumably, US pressure on the Afghan government could be the culprit behind the postponement of the Moscow talks, Director of the Center for Contemporary Afghanistan Studies Omar Nassar told Izvestia. The final rejection of the format would undermine the credibility of Kabul's statements about their interest in a peaceful settlement to the conflict, he emphasized.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia’s top court defends reposts and likes

In determining hate speech from free speech, Russia’s Supreme Court recommended that courts thoroughly scrutinize cases involving reposts and likes. Only if extremist material posted on the Internet is confirmed to have the intention of stirring up hatred, could criminal charges be pressed in Russia. After the resolution is adopted, the Supreme Court expects a massive review of sentences on cases involving reposts and likes, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. At the same time, some experts do not agree with the position of the Supreme Court.

According to the resolution, if a person on social networks has few friends on their pages or a large group of people did not see their posts, then it is unlikely that its goal was the propaganda of extremism. Also, courts are recommended to study the subject’s character, that is whether they were involved with extremist groups or had previous convictions for extremist crimes, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

Meanwhile, Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev is not too pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. "In my opinion, this will not radically change the situation. Everything has been already set in motion," he told the newspaper. According to him, key difficulties arise because of the broad interpretation of the legislation, and therefore it is necessary to revise the laws themselves. "We have to understand that the Supreme Court is only a stimulating influence on the courts," he added.

"We all use information systems, instant messengers and social networks and in the current climate nobody is immune to a situation where their posts from years ago could be interpreted as a call to violence or other unlawful actions. Therefore, millions of our citizens are in a state of uncertainty," Marinichev told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

At the same time, according to the newspaper, employers also do not condone ambiguous statements on social networks. Thus, around 25% of respondents said that they would be ready to immediately fire employees in question.


Kommersant: Deripaska's companies offered anti-sanctions preferences

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade offered to provide Oleg Deripaska’s Russian Machines and GAZ Group support during the sanctions by giving them preferences during bids for government contracts. Two applications by companies being sanctioned would automatically lead to a rejection of the remaining participants in a state order for agricultural machinery, special machinery and buses, Kommersant wrote. The FAS has already detected risks of market monopolization in the initiative. At the same time, Kommersant’s sources call this proposal a symbolic gesture for Deripaska himself.

The FAS told Kommersant that they do not support the current version of the document. Artem Lobov, head of the department for state order placement control, pointed out that in its current form, the proposal carries risks of market monopolization and quashing other production facilities in the country. In addition, this proposal runs the risk of investors completely refusing to open new production sites in Russia. According to him, measures for supporting domestic car manufacturers should not be prohibitive for other producers.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade, in turn, said that this offer is aimed at maintaining the volume of production in companies under sanctions and that the share of other car manufacturers in Russia will not decline. According to Kommersant, the FAS is working on alternative mechanisms for supporting manufacturers under sanctions. The proposals will be forwarded to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Kommersant’s source in the car market said that although the idea of the Ministry of Industry and Trade creates a certain skew in competition, it is rather a complimentary gesture towards Oleg Deripaska. The requirements for state purchases of products are put together for specific manufacturers, which initially limits the range of applicants. Another source told the newspaper that the final version of the proposal might include a provision on regulating prices.


Izvestia: Central Bank develops financial app

The Russian Central Bank is developing an application for online consultations for consumers of financial services, Head of the Central Bank's Service for Consumer Protection and Financial Inclusion Mikhail Mamuta told Izvestia. According to him, the regulator considers it necessary to answer the financial questions of Russians in a much quicker fashion. Experts told the newspaper that the application will be in demand and will reduce the number of complaints.

"It will be an application aimed at communicating with consumers. We work as a sort of a news agency. We’ll explain to citizens their rights and obligations," he told the newspaper.

He noted that it would be possible to write or to chat in the application. The service will not duplicate the functions of the ‘Internet reception’ of the Central Bank. The purpose of the app is to increase customer satisfaction when receiving financial services and reduce the number of complaints to the Central Bank’s similar service.

According to experts, interviewed by the newspaper, the initiative could be useful. The application is in line with the general trend for increasing the financial literacy of the population, General Director of Businesdrom Pavel Samiev told the newspaper. The application - advising the public of their rights, duties and opportunities - will be in demand and will help people save their time, the press service of Novikombank stated.

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