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Press review: Sudan rocked by coup attempt and Uzbekistan to bolster ties with Russia

Top stories from the Russian press on Tuesday, October 26th

Media: Sudan's military coup comes close to success

On October 25, Sudan's military carried out another military coup attempt, the second in two months. This time, it's come closer to success. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and a number of other high-ranking state officials were arrested. Head of the military-dominated Sovereign Council General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan declared a state of emergency and suspended both the council and the government. He added that elections would be held in July 2023, Kommersant writes.

In the meantime, Sudan's Information Ministry published Hamdok's appeal on Facebook, in which he called on the capital's residents to take to the streets to protect "the revolution," that is, the results of a military coup that overthrew then-President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Under al-Bashir, Khartoum and Moscow launched talks on the establishment of a Russian naval facility in Sudan on the Red Sea. A related agreement was signed with Sudan's Sovereign Council after al-Bashir's ouster, but it wasn't ratified and in June 2021, the chief of staff of the Sudanese Armed Forces said that the African country planned to review the agreement's conditions. Now, the issue of a Russian naval facility in Sudan "has been put on the back burner," a source close to the Moscow-Khartoum defense cooperation told Vedomosti. According to him, there are currently no reliable politicians in Sudan who would be willing to publicly discuss the topic with Russia.

"It's Washington who is the key actor in the Sudanese drama. Much will depend on whether the United States will continue to unequivocally condemn the coup or soften its position. If Washington moves to bring sanctions back in order to support civilian activists, it will lead to a complete socio-economic disaster in Sudan," Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities Sergei Seregichev told Kommersant. According to him, any future developments in Sudan will play into Russia's hands but it would be more beneficial for Moscow if the military remained in power in the country because the less influence the West has in Sudan the better.


Media: Uzbekistan to boost relations with Russia following presidential election

Uzbekistan's incumbent President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has secured another five-year term in office by gaining over 80% of the vote in the first round of the country's presidential election. Under Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has done a lot to strengthen ties with Russia, said experts interviewed by Izvestia.

Mirziyoyev will continue to pursue a policy of rapprochement with Russia, Deputy Director of the Institute of CIS Countries Vladimir Zharikhin pointed out. "Uzbekistan benefits from cooperation with Russia and much has been done in this regard in recent years. In particular, they [Uzbekistan] diversified their agriculture, moving away from cultivating only cotton and turning into a strong producer of fruits and vegetables, which is what Russia needs," the expert elaborated. He added that cooperation in resolving security matters was also important, especially in light of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan.

Russia's Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) also highlights the significance of military and political cooperation between the two countries within international organizations. "There is a need to build closer ties within the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Uzbekistan's participation in the organization's activities is definitely important," Federation Council member Vadim Dengin noted.

"Russian-Uzbek relations have been progressing rapidly, Uzbekistan is sizing up EAEU [the Eurasian Economic Union] membership. Tashkent will maintain its priorities in terms of continuing reforms and developing its export capacities. Work on the creation of transport routes will continue," Senior Researcher with the Center for Post-Soviet Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations Stanislav Pritchin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, in order to expand its export capacities, Tashkent will step up efforts to establish transport corridors and deepen relations with its strategic partners such as Russia, China and the European Union, as well as with its regional neighbors.


Izvestia: Russia to enhance military communication network at Central Asian bases

Russia's Defense Ministry has decided to establish new communication systems at the 201st Military Base in Tajikistan and the Kant Airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The systems will make it possible to ensure secure communication and digital data transfer in Central Asia. Experts believe that such systems will expand the combat capability of Russia's overseas military bases, Izvestia notes.

Sources in the Defense Ministry told the newspaper that the delivery schedule for the new communication systems had already been approved. The upgrade of the 201st Military Base is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the Kant Airbase will be reequipped next year. According to the sources, Russian troops deployed to Central Asia will chiefly receive satellite and radio relay stations.

"There are a lot of mountainous areas in the countries where the Kant and the 201st bases are located. Satellite communication will be indispensable there because it does not depend on terrain. Radio relay communication systems operate in a different way and require that there are no obstructions between the transmitter and the receiver. This has its pros and cons. There definitely can be some areas where reception will be unstable, but high-altitude communication systems will cover a far larger area. Besides, it is almost impossible to jam such data transfer channels," military expert Viktor Murakhovsky emphasized. He added that the Russian army had 3D maps that enabled it to unmistakably pinpoint the best places to set up radio relay communication systems.

The new systems will boost the capabilities of Russian units stationed at overseas military bases, Murakhovsky pointed out. "In Syria, communication crews established an uninterrupted and secure exchange of data with headquarters in Russia," he noted. "In addition, they provided communication means to advisory staff and aviation units active at this remote theater of operations," the expert added.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: EU countries unlikely to freeze gas prices following France's example

France's decision to freeze gas prices until the end of 2022 runs counter to the rules of market pricing but this kind of attitude has already become normal in most European countries when it comes to energy. Moreover, it is a departure from these rules that became the main cause of the current gas crisis, Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes.

Meanwhile, other EU countries will hardly be able to follow France's example and employ non-market methods in order to prevent gas prices from surging. In France, the share of gas in energy production stands at just 13%, while nuclear energy has a 70% share. By comparison, the share of gas is about 30% in Germany and Europe's average is 25%.

According to Director of ACRA’s Corporate Ratings Group Vasily Tanurkov, thanks to the high share of nuclear energy, the gas price freeze will cost France less than other European nations.

France receives less than a third of the gas it needs from Russia, that is, below commodity exchange prices. The rest of its gas supplies include Norwegian gas and liquefied natural gas from the Middle East, the US and Africa. Most of those supplies are based on market prices, which is the reason behind Paris' dire prediction of high gas prices persisting until the end of 2022.

France's move and the possible measures that other countries may take to restrain the price hikes are unlikely to have a serious impact on Russia's gas exports. Freezing gas prices for consumers does not mean that suppliers will be affected, Executive Director of the Capital Market Department at Univer Capital Artem Tuzov pointed out. Gas is imported at either contract prices or market prices, and how much consumers pay for it is up to domestic energy suppliers to determine.


Kommersant: Upcoming restrictions send Russians flocking to shopping malls

The coronavirus restrictions that the authorities in Moscow and its regional suburbs announced for shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment facilities have boosted consumer demand. Consumer attendance rose by 7-10% last weekend compared to pre-crisis levels and trade transactions grew by 18-40%. Experts interviewed by Kommersant expect that it will enable businesses to at least partially offset the negative impact of the upcoming shutdown.

Managing partner at Vanchugov and Partners Alexei Vanchugov attributes the increase in consumer activity to the delayed introduction of restrictions with people trying to purchase things in advance. This is the reason for high consumer traffic in retail stores. Various promotional events that shopping malls and retailers are running became an additional factor because many chains launched sales earlier than scheduled.

Regional Director for Commercial Real Estate at Knight Frank Yevgenia Khakberdiyeva believes that entertainment companies and service providers were the ones who particularly saw a rise in demand ahead of the upcoming restrictions. "People remember last year when it was impossible to visit hair and spa salons and restaurants for months," she said.

The good figures that were recorded last weekend will partially allow businesses to offset the impact of the upcoming shutdown but shopping malls and retailers should not expect a wave of catch-up purchases like last summer, Vanchugov pointed out.

Some of the market participants are now more concerned about their future prospects rather than potential consumer demand. RedStone Managing Parntner Indira Shafikova says that the opportunity to hold Christmas fairs is a crucial thing for shopping malls and retailers. According to her, such fairs usually open on November 15-20 and if retail facilities remain shut after November 8, it will be difficult to organize these sorts of events.

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews.