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Press review: Moscow takes Kiev to ECHR court and Lukashenko eyes UAE mediation with West

Top stories from the Russian press on Friday, July 23rd

Kommersant: Nord Stream 2 opponents intend to disrupt US-Germany deal

The agreement between the United States and Germany on Nord Stream 2 did not end the dispute over Europe's energy security. The architects of the deal - US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - came under fire from opponents of the project both at home and around the globe, where even their allies opposed the project. According to Kommersant, the deal around the new gas pipeline will become a serious nuisance in world politics for a long time. Washington and Berlin face difficult diplomatic battles, the main one of which will unfold around a ten-year extension of the contract for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, which expires in 2024.

While Biden and Merkel still only allow the possibility of imposing sanctions against Russia in the event of new complications around Ukraine, the opponents of the Nord Stream 2 do not want to wait and are determined to act now. The statements by the foreign ministers of Poland and Ukraine speak of the beginning of a joint opposition to the agreements between Washington and Berlin and calls on other countries to join the initiative. According to its authors, it is necessary to find an adequate response to the emerging security crisis in the region, "the only beneficiary of which is Russia."

Judging by the latest statements, Kiev's demands are not limited to the issue of extending the contract for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, which expires in 2024, Kommersant writes. In particular, head of Naftogaz of Ukraine Yury Vitrenko said that in connection with the pipeline deal, Ukraine needs to join NATO. "Considering the situation around Nord Stream 2, where the leadership of the US and Germany now have to make excuses, with Kiev appearing to be the main victim, the Ukrainian side expects to convert the flaring international scandal into maximum dividends, increasing its demand positions," according to Kommersant.


Izvestia: Russia files complaint against Ukraine with ECHR

The first ever complaint filed by Russia against Ukraine in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is primarily intended to draw the attention of the global community to the numerous crimes of the neighboring country, according to experts interviewed by Izvestia. This also serves as a test for the European justice system. Russia’s claims relate to serious and consistent violations of human rights by Ukraine, the blocking of the water supply to Crimea, restrictions on the rights of national minorities, and a ban on the broadcast of Russian-language media. The Kremlin called the lawsuit against Ukraine an absolutely natural appeal, while the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the current situation in Ukraine left Russia no choice but to involve international courts.

The main purpose of this complaint is to convey to the global community as objectively as possible Russia’s vision of the coup d'etat in Ukraine and its consequences, Director General of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis Alexander Mikhailov told Izvestia. The document contains all the violations that Europe has long turned a blind eye to, making excuses for Kiev. Russian authorities have repeatedly pointed to them, he noted.

"Europe must understand who it supports," the expert said. "It is necessary that an objective reaction by our Western colleagues follows our accusation," he added, recalling that Russia has repeatedly provided evidence. In Mikhailov’s opinion, Kiev is not yet ready to admit its mistakes on its own.

"Ukraine declares that it is part of Europe. It aspires to join NATO and the EU. So then let them answer to the European authorities for their crimes," Head of the Department of Political Science at Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Andrey Koshkin told the newspaper.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: China decides not to cooperate with WHO in probe for cause of pandemic

The government of China will not participate in the second phase of investigations into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which was going to be conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO). In the first report from Wuhan, the WHO said that the virus most likely jumped to humans from an animal. However, members of the G7 expressed doubts about the objectivity of the report. According to experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the Chinese authorities will strongly reject any attempt to pin the blame on their country.

Head of the School of Asian Studies at the Higher School of Economics Andrey Karneev told the newspaper that the conflict will not be resolved for a long time. "The parties will continue to exchange accusations. The Chinese authorities will not allow a new investigation in a multilateral format and will strongly reject any attempt to blame their country. This does not mean that China will lose the battle for support from the global community. The fact is that the opposing side does not have solid evidence behind its accusations. By the way, part of the US ruling class is also not interested in making all this public," he noted.

The expert recalled that former US President Donald Trump was angry that the WHO actually aligned with the position of China. Therefore, Biden will have to correct the situation and ensure that this organization is more dependent on the West, Karneev concluded.

At the same time, Beijing has mobilized the scientific community and ordinary people to participate in a campaign to expose the slander and attacks against China. In particular, 5 mln Chinese Internet users signed a letter demanding that the WHO establish whether the laboratory in the US city of Fort Detrick was the source of the virus.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Lukashenko offers dialogue to West

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus stated that he is ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the West if the UAE acts as a mediator. At the same time, the Belarusian authorities did not fulfill any of the West’s conditions in order to start the dialogue, namely putting an end to repression there, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Political scientist Pavel Usov said that he sees this as an attempt by Lukashenko to break out of the information vacuum. According to him, Lukashenko has very good relations - financial, economic, and personal ties - with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, that’s why this factor could be used to enter the Western information space. In his opinion, Lukashenko sent an important signal to his Western partners on purpose that he is ready for dialogue.

Political expert Valery Karbalevich told Nezavisimaya Gazeta he believed that the statement about negotiations and a mediator should be shrugged off. "I do not consider this proposal seriously," he said.

Moreover, the expert noted that no one is seriously ready now to enter into a dialogue with Lukashenko without fulfilling at least the minimum conditions, that is, the release of political prisoners and an end to the repression. "On the contrary, his rhetoric is becoming more and more aggressive towards the West," he said.

The dialogue between Minsk and the West could be established without mediators, Karbalevich added. " As long as there are diplomats and an embassy, I don’t understand the need for mediation," the expert said.


Izvestia: Online retailers begin accepting Russia’s Mir cards through Apple Pay

Retailers started to accept payments with Mir cards via Apple Pay on the Internet. The payment method is already available on the M.Video-Eldorado website and soon it will be implemented on Ozon and Wildberries, their representatives told Izvestia. Internet functions increase conversion since customers do not need to enter card details and transaction confirmation codes, they very rarely refuse the purchase at the last stage when making a payment, the Association of the Companies of Internet Trade explained.

The necessary improvements for accepting national cards via Apple Pay on the Internet have already been implemented by Sberbank, MKB, Otkritie, CloudPayments (part of the Tinkoff group), their representatives told Izvestia. VTB, PSB, Delobank, MTS Bank, and Qiwi are preparing for its launch.

Russia occupies second place worldwide in terms of the popularity of Apple Pay, trailing only the United States, said Olga Karablina, head of payment product development at international payment provider Ecommpay. She noted that contactless payment is a trend in recent years, and the pandemic has only accelerated its development.

"For Apple, this is an opportunity to get data about new users, to study their payment behavior and consumer habits. Apple does not take money for acquiring, nor does it earn commissions. With the help of this integration, the company wants to retain existing users and strengthen its presence in Russia. Apple makes money on its other services, such as iTunes, and user data helps them with this," she explained.

The expert stressed that it is a big step for the Russian national payment system to start cooperation with a non-resident, especially with such a large US company as Apple.

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