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Press review: How SpaceX’s success will impact Russia and Trump turns to Putin over China

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, June 1

Izvestia: Crew Dragon’s success might change the space industry, but cost Russia


The takeoff and successful docking of the SpaceX manned spacecraft became the final stage of testing before its regular operation. Experts believe that this launch will usher in a new era in space. Roscosmos will lose its monopoly on delivering crews to the station, and the United States will engage in commercial activities in this area. Meanwhile, Russian cosmonauts will use the places that American astronauts used before the launch of Crew Dragon, Roscosmos told Izvestia. The Russian corporation remains optimistic and is sticking to its plans.

"The flight equalizes the space power of Roscosmos and SpaceX, whereas Elon Musk employs 6,000 people, Roscosmos employs 240,000. I think that as a result, Russia will lose the money that it was receiving for transporting Americans to the ISS - in the best years, this amount ranged from $300 mln to $500 mln at today's prices," Head of the Space Policy Institute Ivan Moiseev told Izvestia.

Roscosmos’ press service told Izvestia that the pricing policy for sending astronauts from other countries to the ISS is a commercial secret. "Regarding vacant space on ships, it will be used to implement the Russian research program. Russian cosmonauts will take the space occupied by the Americans," the state corporation said.

"With the example of the United States, we see that private investment plays an increasing role in the development of space and not the state. Russia could not create such system," corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Andrey Ionin told Izvestia.

General Director of Cosmocurs Pavel Pushkin believes that now the US will begin their own commercial activities to send crews to the ISS. "Of course, we will remain leaders in this market. But the United States will become more independent from us in terms of delivering astronauts," he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos welcomed the successful launch of Crew Dragon and noted the importance of having two transport systems capable of sending crews to the ISS. The corporation also announced new space projects. In 2020, tests of two latest missiles are planned and its lunar program will be resumed in 2021.


Kommersant: Donald Trump urges Vladimir Putin to discuss China’s fate

The Trump administration is laying the groundwork for the annual G7 summit, which will be the most unpredictable in its history. Due to the pandemic, the summit was postponed till September, and it is still unclear whether its members will be able to assemble in full force. However, the most intriguing thing was a proposal to discuss the "future of China," inviting a number of non-G7 states, including Russia, expelled from the club in 2014. According to Kommersant, despite Trump’s conciliatory gesture, Moscow’s participation in the summit is unlikely, given the anti-Chinese focus of Washington’s initiative. However, experts interviewed by the newspaper do not rule out that if Trump is re-elected, Russia could become an intermediary between the US and China.

Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev reacted first to Trump’s statements, saying that the White House’s proposal needed clarification. According to him, despite the willingness to communicate in all formats, Moscow is not satisfied with the role of an observer, and resuming interaction within the G7 would be possible if all participants are equal and have the same opportunities to impact decisions.

Meanwhile, experts interviewed by Kommersant believe that Russia is unlikely to participate in the G7 summit. Vladimir Batyuk, a researcher at the RAS’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies told Kommersant that Moscow would have good reason to reject Trump’s invitation. "First, this proposal does not mean restoring Russia’s status as a full member of the G8. …

Accepting such an invitation would be demonstrating willingness to undergo any sort of humiliation, just to be able to contact Western leaders. Second, Beijing would look down on any acceptance of this proposal. In the context of the new US-Chinese Cold War, this summit would be perceived by the Chinese leadership as an anti-Chinese conspiracy with Moscow, no matter what statements the Russian leader makes publicly," the expert said.

Director General of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs Andrey Kortunov told Kommersant that this is an attempt to pull Russia away from China. "However, it’s inappropriate to even talk about a hypothetical bargain between Moscow and Washington around China, given that Donald Trump is only waiting for steps from Russia, but he can’t offer anything in return - neither in Ukraine, nor in Syria, nor in other areas," he noted.

However, according to the expert, if Trump was re-elected for a second term, "under certain circumstances, Moscow could become an intermediary between Washington and Beijing."


Vedomosti: Date of Russia’s constitutional vote may be announced this week

Early this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin may announce the date of the nationwide vote on the anticipated constitutional amendments, four people close to the presidential administration and Moscow City Hall told Vedomosti. Two of them believe that the vote will be held on July 1, but one said that the option from July 8is still under consideration.

According to a source close to the Kremlin, the referendum could occur on July 1, but early voting would begin a week before, on June 25, the day after the Victory Day parade scheduled for June 24. "They are counting on the mobilization effect of the Victory Day parade, its inspiration and positive emotions," the source explained. Earlier, another person close to the presidential administration said that the authorities wanted to celebrate "the victory over the virus," and against this background organize the vote.

On May 26, Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to begin preparations for the parade, rescheduled from May 9 to June 24. At first, it was planned to have the vote on the constitutional amendments on the same say, sources told Vedomosti. However, June 24 not yet been publicly announced as the definitive date. Sources told the newspaper that the date has not yet been announced because the epidemiological situation has still not stabilized in the Russian regions. Whereas the mortality rate from coronavirus infection has been on the decline in Moscow, it was growing in other regions, Vedomosti wrote.


Izvestia: Russia’s antimonopoly service questions Microsoft's anti-crisis offer

The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service has questioned the legitimacy of Microsoft’s recent offer, seeking to give Russian authorities six months of free access to their software products and services. If government agencies accept the proposal, such a decision can be regarded as a violation of the law in the field of competition and import substitution of software, Deputy Head of FAS Anatoly Golomolzin told Izvestia. Market participants support the position of the antitrust authority and warn that there is a risk of becoming dependent on Microsoft’s services, and this would harm Russian products.

"Support should be based on competitive principles and not lead to a violation of antitrust laws and the monopolization of product markets," Golomolzin explained to the newspaper.

At the end of April, the US-based tech monolith suggested that the Russian government use the corporation's products for work amid the pandemic, including cloud services, solutions in the field of medicine, and cybersecurity. In particular, the management of the Russian office of Microsoft turned to the Ministry of Communications with an initiative to organize a free six-month access to the Office 365 package with Microsoft Teams for Russian government agencies.

Microsoft’s press service in Russia informed Izvestia that in this way the corporation took practical measures to help states, companies, and public organizations that are struggling with the adverse effects of the pandemic.

The Russian Association of Software Developers considers Microsoft’s anti-crisis proposals to be unacceptable, since the storage of personal and user data of the corporation on servers in the US and Europe contradicts Russia’s federal law "On Personal Data".


Kommersant: Russia tightens screws on cryptocurrency market

Russia’s authorities have presented market participants with a new bill on digital currencies and changes to liability for violations. These works directly prohibit the circulation of cryptocurrencies not issued under internal regulation in Russia, as well as mining and even advertising. Experts told Kommersant that the market may move abroad due to the overly tough approach not only due to the circulation of major world cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ether, but also participation in mining.

"We turned away from the topic of cryptocurrencies in the bill on digital financial assets, but decided to nevertheless define digital currency and hammer out regulation for this phenomenon," Head of the State Duma’s financial market committee Anatoly Aksakov told Kommersant. He added that now the bill reflects the rather tough position of Russia’s regulators regarding the restriction of cryptocurrencies in the Russian legal field. At the same time, Aksakov noted that if a citizen wants to work with cryptocurrency, they are free to do so on foreign platforms. The project could be approved in the fall.

According to newspaper, excluding only one sector - mining - from the economy will mean a loss for the country of over $2 bln per year.

Market players and experts were outraged at the tough approach of the state, Kommersant wrote. According to Taxology partner Mikhail Uspensky, the worst thing is that the bill completely blocks the legal sale of the world's major cryptocurrencies in Russia, primarily bitcoin and ether.

A compromise decision for the industry could be an experimental legal regime, the so-called sandbox, attorney Alexander Zhuravlev told the newspaper.

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