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Press review: What to expect from Ukraine's comedian president and first Putin-Kim meeting

Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, April 22


Media: Ukrainians expect change from Zelensky

Ukraine’s President-elect, comedian Vladimir Zelensky, who won a landslide victory over Pyotr Poroshenko in Sunday’s runoff, will not be able to change the country’s political establishment overnight and destroy the corruption schemes created by the previous leaders, Ukrainian lawmaker Yevgeny Balitsky told Izvestia.

"The old elites will not willingly give everything up. One person’s will is not enough here, and he will not be able to do that quickly," he said.

However, Zelensky will be able to put an end to hostilities in the Donbass region, if he is ready to compromise, the lawmaker went to say.

"The most important question here is whether he is ready to be independent in fact rather than in word, whether he is ready to get beyond the West’s control and act in the interests of his country," Balitsky stressed, adding that positive changes in Russian-Ukrainian relations were possible, "if Zelensky matures politically."

There will be less hostile anti-Russian rhetoric after Zelensky’s election, Vedomosti quotes Ukrainian political scientist Vadim Karasyov as saying. "Poroshenko is fond of making bombastic statements and likes offensive remarks. That gave him confidence and played the role of an alibi in relations with nationalists who were his electoral base in recent years. Zelensky has a different electoral base. People want peace, tranquility and not war, that’s for sure," he emphasized.

According to Mikhail Pogrebinsky, Director of the Kiev-based Center for Political Studies and Conflict Management, substantial changes in Ukraine’s policy will be possible only after the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 27. "Then it will be clear which coalition will form the government. Until then, the new president will, of course, behave more cautiously, not as brazenly as Poroshenko. However, the policy aimed at a rapprochement with Europe and a standoff with Russia will persist until the parliamentary elections. After that, a lot will depend on how moderately pro-European and, at the same time, anti-Russian the ruling coalition will be," he told Izvestia.


Izvestia: Putin-Kim summit to focus on nuclear disarmament, bilateral ties

The first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could be held in Vladivostok’s Russky Island on April 25. According to Izvestia’s source familiar with the arrangements for the summit, Putin will visit the city on his way to the One Belt, One Road meeting. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told reporters the two heads of state would discuss denuclearization issues and bilateral relations, stressing that the most important thing would be taking into account each other’s interests and mutual trust.

Pyongyang is likewise committed to continued dialogue with Moscow. The North Korean leader said in his message to Putin that bilateral relations of friendship established by the previous leaders were fully in tune with the two countries’ interests.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (upper house) Foreign Affairs Committee, described the upcoming Putin-Kim summit as a positive sign.

"We would like the Korean Peninsula to be free from nuclear weapons. On the other hand, Russia is opposed to North Korea being backed into the corner and forced to toe the United States’ line," the senator told the paper. "We also support the dialogue between North Korea and its southern neighbors and the DPRK’s contacts with the United States. That’s a positive sign indeed, since it is clear that the Americans will not be able to solve the problems without Russia’s and China’s involvement."

A lot of issues have piled up in relations between Pyongyang and Moscow over the past eight years with no bilateral summits, Yevgeny Kim, senior researcher at the Center for Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Far Eastern Studies, explained to Izvestia. Moscow is likely to reaffirm its support for political and diplomatic means of resolving the Korean Peninsula's nuclear crisis, he added.

The summit should give a fresh impetus to bilateral economic cooperation as well, Georgy Toloraya, Director of the Asian Strategy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the paper. According to the expert, Pyongyang is particularly interested in such interaction amid persisting sanctions.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Syria’s Tartus naval base to become Russian oil hub

The results of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov’s recent visit to Damascus suggest that Russia, rather than Iran, will soon dominate oil deliveries to Syria, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The Tartus naval facility, which Russia leases from Syria, and the port’s infrastructure adjacent to it, will be the key oil hub there.

It turned out that during Borisov’s meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow and Damascus agreed that the entire Tartus sea port would be leased to Russia for transport and economic purposes for 49 years in the immediate future.

For Russia, which relies heavily on oil exports, this cooperation formula with Damascus will be effective. For its part, the Assad regime will have an opportunity to revive its fuel industry. Syria has two large refineries in the cities of Homs and Baniyas, which are being restored and are ramping up production with Russia’s support.

"Of course, Russia, which has cancelled oil exports to Ukraine, is capable of meeting the Syrian industry’s demands for it. However, the long-term lease of the Tartus sea port by Russia indicates with a high degree of probability that the oil-producing plants controlled by the Assad regime will not receive oil produced in Syria's occupied territories for a long time. This means that by taking such a step Russia tacitly agreed with the partition of the country, where almost all of Syria’s oil-producing infrastructure east of the Euphrates will be controlled by the US-led coalition," military expert, Colonel Vladimir Popov, told the paper.


Vedomosti: Yandex.Market platform to sell partner products to and from foreign marketplaces

The Bringly online store will be able not only to sell foreign marketplaces’ goods to Russians but will also allow its partners to trade each other’s goods on their platforms, Yandex.Market International Chief International Officer Alex Vassiliev told Vedomosti.

Bringly is a cross-border marketplace, which cooperates with online platforms in China, Turkey, the UK and other countries. The project got off the ground in 2018 as a joint venture of Yandex and Sberbank.

According to Vassiliev, the marketplace-to-marketplace model has two stages. The first stage is already working, he said, with marketplaces, which aggregate hundreds of individual online stores, joining the platform. Among them are Turkey’s Hepsiburada and Germany’s Zomart. Talks on cooperation with players in other countries are in progress.

During the second stage, "Bringly will be able to sell goods from Chinese platforms to Turkey and vice versa," Vassiliev said.

The key advantage of the model is the colossal expansion of the product range, while the most difficult thing is the integration of IT-systems, the paper quotes Data Insight Partner Fyodor Virin as saying. "A lot of sellers are connected to each marketplace. They cannot be as flexible during this integration as each particular store," he noted.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US negotiations with Taliban yield zero results

Hopes for a successful peace process in Afghanistan have vanished into thin air, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue, which was to take place in Qatar, has been put off indefinitely.

Washington, which currently plays a major role in efforts aimed at stopping the hostilities, expressed disappointment with the failure of the meeting calling on the parties to return to the negotiating table.

The Ghani administration earlier made public a list of 250 people representing all social groups, including government officials it wanted to send to Qatar. However, the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) laughed off the offer, saying that the upcoming conference was not a wedding party where a great number of people are invited.

Meanwhile, Kabul pinned responsibility for the collapse of the negotiations on Qatar, which, it said, rejected both the full and the shorter list of delegates.

Omar Nissar, Director of the Center for Contemporary Afghanistan Studies, stressed to Nezavisimaya Gazeta that Qatar had been unable to arrange the meeting. He added, however, that the national reconciliation process would continue, and other options could be considered as well. A new venue for the meeting, for example, Tashkent, could be discussed too, he pointed out.


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