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Press review: Trump still locked in tight race with Biden and Georgian polls cause uproar

Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, November 5
US President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File
US President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden
© AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File


Media: Biden, Trump locked in tight race, as election outcome remains undecided

The presidential election in the United States is over but the final outcome is still not known. However, it’s clear that the triumph of Democrat Joe Biden, which had been predicted by almost all opinion polls, did not happen, although his victory seems to be in the cards. The only guaranteed election outcome is that the deep divide in American society, which gripped the country four years ago, will keep widening, Kommersant writes.

America had been preparing for a Biden victory. The Democratic contender’s triumph was meant to show that the past four years of Donald Trump’s presidency had been a sad mistake, the paper says. However, after Trump won Texas and Iowa, the Democrats lost their chances for a Blitzkrieg. Hispanic voters in Miami-Dade County, who backed Trump, did not allow Biden to win Florida.

The outcome of the vote in Nevada, a blue (Democrat-leaning) state, where Biden has a slight lead, will be surprisingly crucial, Izvestia writes. According to experts, even if the Republican incumbent wins Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina, six electoral votes will determine the fate of this tight race. If a miracle happens, the current White House occupant could win the race with 272 votes. But Biden is highly likely to emerge victorious with 270. Nevertheless, the final nail in the coffin was Arizona with its 11 electoral votes. The serious failure in the Grand Canyon State and the neck-and-neck struggle with Biden in Michigan and Wisconsin mean that Trump’s team had played an erroneous card when it planned victorious schemes in other states and overslept the threat in its own backyard.

The Democrats’ plan to obtain a majority in the Senate is also in jeopardy, Kommersant writes. This means that Biden is running the risk of being the first US president in the past 32 years, who will come to power without a loyal Congress. This will even further weaken his positions and hopes for crucial reforms. In the event of a Biden victory, Trump will become the first president after George H. W. Bush, who will have served only one term. The Democrat’s potentially shaky victory will show that Trump’s ideology - a mixture of civic nationalism, social conservatism and populism - will be backed by half of America, while its leader could try to further influence politics.


Media: Investors tilt Democrat, as Russia could face higher sanctions risks

The delayed vote count in the US presidential election made investors around the world anxious. However, by the end of the trading day, financial markets apparently decided that Democrat Joe Biden would be president. Key indices grew 2-4% and the dollar weakened amid expectations of broader stimulus measures from the Democratic candidate, Kommersant writes.

According to Assets Manager at BCS World Investment Andrei Rusetsky, the reaction of European markets shows that despite growing uncertainty, European investors believe that Biden is likely to win rather than Trump, who had triggered a trade war with Europe. Economist at Renaissance Capital in Russia and the CIS Sofia Donets notes that a potential Biden administration could be associated with a weaker dollar and higher investment flows to developing markets. Managing Partner at Amber Lion Partners Roman Neuhauser says that a Biden victory would lead to de-escalating the US trade conflict with China. However, investors still don’t rule out Trump being re-elected. In this case, according to Rusetsky, the Russian market would see a rally over the growth of oil companies and lower sanctions risks. In the event of a Biden win, the sanctions risk is higher given his rhetoric, while Trump’s re-election could decrease this pressure, Donets says.

Oil prices have dropped to a record low since early May and there are serious concerns over a further decline in the coming months, which is directly linked to the US presidential election, Izvestia says. The frontrunner in the race, Joe Biden, could seriously limit fracking in the US and this decision could affect American oil producers. However, now Biden’s steps along the foreign policy track are more important for the market. The Democrat could seriously ease or lift sanctions against Iran. This means that some 2 mln barrels of oil per day would return to the market soon. It would be hard to persuade Tehran not to hurry up with boosting oil output.


Izvestia: Parliamentary elections set off political crisis in Georgia

Georgia’s opposition is refusing to acknowledge the results of the October 31 parliamentary elections. The ruling Georgian Dream party emerged victorious, winning over 48% of the vote. The opposition’s bloc Strength is in Unity, which includes the United National Movement of former president Mikhail Saakashvili, came in second with over 27%. It’s important that the elections were held under a new system. Shortly after, Saakashvili said the Georgian Dream had suffered a defeat. Other opposition parties backed the former leader. The opposition refused to obtain seats in the parliament and is planning to stage a protest march in Tbilisi on November 8, Izvestia writes.

Experts label Saakashvili as the key figure of the current political crisis. The politician won’t dare come to Georgia, where he faces several criminal charges and is on a wanted list. However, he is coordinating the actions of his supporters remotely, from Ukraine. "Saakashvili wants to make a comeback to big politics. He has experience after Georgia’s Rose Revolution and now he is trying to repeat that scenario. For him this is the only way to fulfill his political and economic ambitions. Obviously, he did not find a place for himself in Ukraine. He was driven out of Ukraine’s media space. He understands that he has five or six years of active political activity left and that’s why he’s going all-in in Georgia," said political scientist Artur Atayev. However, the expert noted that the opposition is unlikely to achieve success. Saakashvili showed how he was able to crack down on protesters, when he brutally suppressed opposition rallies in 2007.

According to leading research fellow at the Center for Studies of Caucasus at MGIMO University Nikolai Silayev, the opposition does not expect that the votes will be recounted and new elections will be held. “I think the defeated party is just raising the stakes. They hope to enter talks with the government in order to bargain for some posts. These hopes are unlikely to be fulfilled. The OSCE and NATO recognized the election’s outcome. This issue can be considered as closed," he stressed.


Kommersant: Russia sets new target on reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Russia by 2030 to 70% of the 1990 level given the maximum possible absorption capacity of its forests. Experts note that the new target de facto implies significantly higher emissions than the current level and will be implemented without any extra efforts, Kommersant writes. Environmentalists call it "unambitious," especially compared with the statements and plans of other countries. The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) described the new target as "objective and fair," noting that the decree stipulated the creation of conditions for companies’ climate projects.

Russia’s previous target was minus 25-30% of the 1990 level. Currently, Russia’s greenhouse gas emissions are at minus 50% of the 1990 level, including CO2 absorption by forests, and at minus 30% without it. According to Igor Makarov, who heads the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics, the new target "makes any regulation on greenhouse gas emissions irrelevant and shows that the country lacks any ambition on decreasing its dependence on fossil fuel and a shift towards green development." Vladimir Chuprov, who heads the energy department at Greenpeace, noted that "the decree reflected traditional policy, for example, the recently adopted strategy on the oil and gas and coal development in the Arctic, and the country remains dependent on oil, coal and gas."

The announcement on Russia’s new climate target coincided with the official US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Incumbent US President Donald Trump declared these plans back in June 2017, but the procedure took years, the newspaper writes.


Izvestia: Russia sees new record high of COVID-19 cases, but copes well

Russia is again seeing a record high COVID-19 spread, with nearly 20,000 cases recorded per day, but experts caution against judging the situation by the number of cases. According to them, the key factor today is the load on hospitals and their capacity to cope with this. Russia’s healthcare system is working better now than in spring and that’s why the authorities are not imposing new restrictions, lawmakers told Izvestia.

Some experts had predicted the second wave of the epidemic in autumn and the figures seen in the past weeks confirm this, medical director of SberZdorovye Vladislav Mohamed Ali said. In the best-case scenario, a plateau or a decrease in infections may be expected by late December, and in the worst-case scenario only by the end of February.

There are several reasons for the rising number of COVID-19 cases. First, this is explained by the respiratory infection season. Second, more tests are being carried out. Third, people are just tired of being careful and observing distance during each contact, said Head of Medical Departmenet at BestDoctor Olga Bakshutova.

Besides, the risk of contracting the coronavirus infection for the second time is also high. The forecast on the second wave of the pandemic is different. The virus will further expand, but it will be result in fewer deaths, said Sergey Kuznetsov, who chairs medicine and healthcare committee at the Delovaya Rossiya public organization. "Today, after the first wave, we are not suffering a lack of medical facilities and beds. Now the fight against the epidemic in Russia is successful," he said. According to the expert, the most important factor in overcoming the second wave is a COVID-19 vaccine.


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