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Press review: Zelensky takes presidential reins and Turkish Red Sea presence rattles Gulf

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday

Kommersant: New Ukrainian president takes on Rada and government

Actor-turned-politician, Vladimir Zelensky, took office as President of Ukraine on Monday. The new head of state invalidated everything that the previous government did, without sparing any of its branches. He announced the dissolution of parliament and the dismissal of top security officials, while accusing the government of incompetence, Kommersant wrote. Nonetheless, after having promised to change the country, Zelensky declared all the people of Ukraine his allies.

Zelensky’s speech was highly praised even by his opponents. "It was impeccable from a technical viewpoint," a source working for the Pyotr Poroshenko Bloc told Kommersant. The source did not rule out that such a spectacular entry into office could further increase the popularity of the new leader, which would be perhaps useful for early parliamentary elections.

Head of the Kiev Bendukidze Free Market Center Vladimir Fedorin praised Zelensky’s tough approach to parliament. Yet, the expert considers the portion of the speech where the president promised to end the war at any cost to be problematic. "It is not clear how it can be achieved without major concessions to Putin," he said. Political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko suggested not being too optimistic about Zelensky's intention to achieve peace in Donbass. "We need to see a plan. Poroshenko also said that he would quickly bring peace," the expert told Kommersant.

In the meantime, Zelensky's priority is the dissolution of the Rada and changes in personnel to the presidential administration. New appointments, according to Kommersant sources on his team, will be announced very soon.

As for the Rada, the process of its dissolution has already begun and a presidential decree will be signed soon. According to the law, the inability to create a ruling coalition in parliament within a month is the motive to announce early elections. According to Kommersant, many people in the Rada support the president’s decision to head into early elections.


Izvestia: Blast in Egypt won’t affect opening of flights with Russia

An explosion targeting a tourist bus in Cairo will not affect the timing of the imminent re-opening of air service between Russia and Egypt, Vice President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Yuri Barzykin told Izvestia. According to him, due to the incident, Russian tourists will be advised not to visit the pyramids and the Sinai. Nevertheless, the incident is unlikely to affect aviation security. In the meantime, preparations for re-opening flight service continues, the expert said.

"A whole slew of measures is being considered for initiating the air connection, as well as safety in general. Nevertheless, I think that the terrorist attack will not specifically affect the timing of launching the flights. Quite recently our delegation visited the country, and there was a vigorous exchange of information between our specialists," Barzykin told the newspaper.

A source in Egypt’s aviation industry confirmed the information. "The highest level of security that meets all international standards is being provided at the airports. We expect that (our) Russian colleagues will take this fact into account, as well as the situation at the airports and resorts," the source told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, the International Counter Terror Training Association told Izvestia that the country remains unsafe with a high risk of attacks from extremists. ICTA President Joseph Linder told the newspaper that air service should not be re-opened at all, since the Egyptian special services cannot guarantee Russian tourists’ full safety.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Gulf monarchies rattled by growing Turkish presence in Sudan

The western coast of Saudi Arabia might fall within Turkey’s reach. The Gulf monarchies suspect that Erdogan wants to set up a military base in Suakin, Sudan, which lies along the Red Sea coast. In the coming weeks, Turkey is expected to take action in response to the demand of the Sudanese military command to leave the island, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.

The requirements are linked with the change of power in Sudan. People close to the anti-Qatar quartet (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain) are holding the reins of power in the country. The idea that Saudi Arabia’s west coast could be vulnerable to Iran’s tactical ally scares the military and the Gulf’s political elite. Given that Yemen is considered to be the zone of action of the pro-Iranian irregular formations, the leading countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council would find themselves in a hostile surrounding.

"For several years now, the Red Sea has been the scene of a tough geopolitical confrontation between various powers," expert at the Russian International Affairs Council Anton Mardasov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, by strengthening its influence in the region, it (Turkey) not only demonstrates its ambitions as a regional superpower, but also confirms once again its "special position in the NATO system, since such activities are beyond the alliance's coordinate system".

From the expert’s viewpoint, Ankara is bolstering its potential military presence and economic expansion. "The level of Turkish investments in Africa is estimated at $6 bln," Mardasov noted. "Therefore, it is possible that external players will try to prevent the Turkish buildup in Sudan by strengthening the positions of internal players who oppose Ankara’s presence in the country," the expert added.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Vietnam outgrows role as Russia's junior partner

Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc arrived in Moscow on Monday for an official visit. This is his second time visiting Russia, the first was exactly three years ago and was marked by launching the construction of a large agro-compound in the Moscow Region. Vietnam and Russia are successfully fostering cooperation in a wide range of economic spheres, and as for politics - according to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vietnam is no longer Russia’s "junior partner" and might provide significant support in the Pacific Rim.

The list of cooperation issues between the two countries that await decisions is very broad, and all of them are of great importance for the economies of Russia and Vietnam. They include the construction of the Russian-Vietnamese TPP Long Fu-1, the creation of a joint airline, Vietstar Airlines. Cooperation in the energy sector includes negotiations on the fate of the Ninh Thuan-1 NPP. The counties have also signed a memorandum of cooperation on the supply of liquefied natural gas and the development of gas power generation.

Yet, Russia is not among Vietnam’s main trading partners. The volume of trade in 2018 barely reached $5 bln. In Russia’s foreign trade balance, it reaches less than 1%. According to the newspaper, Russia’s partnership with Vietnam and other ASEAN countries in the diplomatic sphere is an important direction in the "turn to the East". "Vietnam has long outgrown its role as junior partner in need of help and support," Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote. Vietnam has already supported Russia’s aspirations in the Pacific Rim. In 2010, Moscow called for building a "common Pacific home" at the ASEAN summit, which was turned down, the newspaper wrote. However, the idea could be brought up again since next year Vietnam will occupy the post of ASEAN Chair.


Izvestia: Russia develops own brand of ‘green’ goods

The first plots for growing environmentally friendly agricultural products for export will be chosen in 2020. That being said, the Russian Ministry of Agriculture has already put together a draft "road map" for creating a "green brand" in the country, Izvestia wrote. By the end of 2019, plans are in store to develop a national standard for eco-products, and by mid-2020, pilot regions for the project will be set.

"It will be possible to talk about specific brand characteristics and product categories after the federal authorities have agreed on an action plan. The Ministry of Agriculture expects to complete the development of the concept of protected goods, and set the national standards by the end of 2019. At the moment, measures to promote that ‘green brand’ are planned for 2020," the Ministry’s press service told Izvestia.

If the ministry introduces the bill on manufacturing new products to the State Duma in July, it may be passed during the autumn-winter session, Executive Director of the National Union of Organic Producers and Consumers Oleg Mironenko told Izvestia.

Meanwhile, experts interviewed by the newspaper are confused by the point of the ministry’s "road map" for the use of agrochemicals. If they are not banned completely, the new eco-products will not differ from the already existing ones.


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