On Tuesday, the Russian State Duma, in a first reading, approved a bill on the external administration of foreign enterprises whose owners announced that they were exiting the Russian market. Until now, the Russian authorities tried to avoid taking over the administration of foreign assets. It was Western countries who embarked on arresting and freezing Russian property. They also created a dangerous precedent of the nationalization of Gazprom’s subsidiaries in Europe. And currently Western leaders insist on the complete expropriation of Russia-related assets. That said, intellectually-honest politicians realize that the takeover campaign of foreign property will have grave repercussions not only for Russians but for foreigners as well. In Russia, the issue of introducing the external administration over foreign enterprises is being treated with great caution. And so far, their owners have been finding acceptable ways of parting with their Russian enterprises. Major Russian business players are asking not to introduce hasty external administration procedures over foreign businesses in Russia.
The departure of foreign companies from the Russian market may cause the abandonment of hazardous production facilities, cautions Dmitry Yakovlev, head of the legal department of the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision. So far, major foreign businesses have been assuring that nothing would be abandoned yet "the risk remains," the official said. "And due to this, we would like to ask that the bill on the external administration of an organization be supported since the state should have a takeover mechanism in such cases," he explained.
The reduction of production for objective reasons, such as the impossibility to restore the deliveries of foreign raw materials, should not serve as grounds for the introduction of external administration in companies with "unfriendly" foreign participation, head of the State Duma committee on property issues Sergey Gavrilov said. The bill has a provision that introducing external administration is possible if the economic activity was halted or reduced leading to no less than a 30% drop in revenues for three straight months compared to the previous period or the same period the year before. Yet, according to Gavrilov, the committee thinks it necessary to reject such an approach.
The Quad summit, a meeting of an informal alliance uniting the US, Japan, Australia and India, was held in Tokyo. This club of four has traditionally promoted a number of initiatives openly directed against China. Still, the alliance did not forget about Russia either. On the sidelines of the Tokyo summit, US President Joe Biden held a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, unlike other Quad members, did not adopt an unequivocal stance on the Ukrainian situation. Biden again tried to convince New Delhi to disassociate from Moscow. Yet it seems that US pressure on its Indian allies yet again did not work.
According to Rajan Kumar, Associate Professor at the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies at the School of International Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Western media and experts think that India does not support the West due to its dependency on Russian weapons and armaments. The expert says that this is only partially true, since India considers Russia a significant player from a historical and geopolitical point of view. Additionally, he said, that New Delhi does not view the situation in Ukraine as a conflict between democracy and authoritarianism which is the way the US presents it and is inclined to think that NATO holds serious liability for this crisis.
In his opinion, Washington won’t succeed in its efforts to divide India and Russia. New Delhi realizes its importance in the Indo-Pacific region and considers the Quad to be a key organization, yet would like for this alliance to focus on the issues specific to this region and not on the European conflict where the opinions of India and other Quad members diverge, the expert concluded.
The OPEC+ alliance of oil exporting countries which includes Russia is not going to back down from its activities in 2022. This means that the participants won’t assist Europe and the US in decreasing exports of energy products from Russia which bring about 40% of revenues into the Russian budget.
Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and its participation in the regulatory mechanisms of global markets is a formula for success, according to Associate Professor at the Russian Government’s Financial University Valery Andrianov. Russia’s participation in the OPEC+ deal ensured the actual effectiveness of the agreement and attracted other independent producers such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and others.
According to the expert, the scenario of Russia leaving the deal would be dangerous for OPEC+. In this case, Russia may build new logistics chains and increase production on its own which would drive oil prices down and edge Middle Eastern competitors out of the market. A spike in Russian oil exports to China shows that Beijing is ready to increase the share of Russian oil in its energy balance. So it is more profitable for OPEC countries to have Russia in their alliance which has certain obligations and quotas. There is also a purely commercial interest to support Russia, because the conflict between Russia and the West will continue, so oil prices will remain high.
The expert notes that Asian countries, above all, India and China, are actively buying Russian oil which Western countries rejected. It is assessed that the discount on such deals hit 30%. However, this is not a discount but the actual price without the "geopolitical mark-up." The prices that reflect the balance of supply and demand are shaped in Asia, including the deals involving Russian oil. And OPEC countries are guided by the market and not by Western attitudes, the expert noted.
A US government delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, having visited Kyrgyzstan, arrived in Uzbekistan. The tour which will last until May 27 also includes trips to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. One of the goals of the tour is to bolster US ties with the region and foster joint efforts on security. It is important for the US to prevent the republics from circumventing the sanctions against Russia while the ideal goal is to convince them to turn against Moscow.
According to Alexander Knyazev, professor at St. Petersburg State University and an expert on Central Asia and the Middle East, US delegation visits to Central Asian countries every time pursue approximately the same goals - to hold talks on the necessity of adhering to the sanctions against Russia and Belarus. "This is some sort of caution on the unacceptability of some actions by these countries on circumventing the anti-Russian sanctions. This is an attempt to understand how the relations of each country in the region will continue to develop with Russia, above all, and with Belarus. They are trying to offer something to their Central Asian partners in terms of cooperation in various spheres, above all, in the sphere of security," the expert thinks. In his opinion, there is no goal to rearm these countries along NATO standards like in Moldova since three out of four of them are CSTO members.
"The issue of threats from Russia to these countries might be expressed but it is not pertinent and is hardly likely to be perceived too seriously at the official level as it is happening on the European track for Russia," the expert thinks.
As for the signing of a cooperation agreement between Kyrgyzstan and the US, this won’t happen in the near future since this intention of the Kyrgyz leadership was criticized both by the Kyrgyz parliament and Moscow. However, the expert thinks that this agreement does not have any decisive significance yet may be perceived as some sort of rapprochement between Kyrgyzstan and the US.
On Tuesday, May 24, Russian Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov officially told Kommersant that Russia would reject the Bologna Process and would develop its own "unique" model of higher education. After the onset of the special military operation, some lawmakers and a number of high-ranking officials proposed doing so. It is still not known what the new education model will be like, yet the State Duma and the Federation Council are already hammering out bills providing for the return to the Soviet higher education system which involves specialist training. Universities are not rushing to comment on the new reform while the opinions of experts remains divided, with some of them thinking that exiting the Bologna Process will seriously affect the quality of education while others believe that nothing will really change.
Former head of the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science, professor at the Higher School of Economics Viktor Bolotov notes that the bachelor and master’s degrees were first introduced back in 1992 and many universities adopted this model at the time. He reiterated that this system facilitates the export of educational services since foreign students can be sure that these diplomas will be accepted in their native countries. This also makes it possible to receive a bachelor’s degree in Russia and then get a master’s degree in another country. However, in his opinion, leaving the Bologna Process won’t change anything for the Russian system of education.
Nikolay Kulbaka, associate professor of RANEPA’s political and social communications department, notes that going back to the specialist training format is possible yet it would impact the quality of education since universities would have to change all their study plans and programs. "And graduates who will realize that our education diverges from the West will simply decide to apply to foreign universities immediately after high school. Also, all contacts with foreign universities that are already being eliminated will be demolished," the expert thinks.
The Bologna Process involves regular contacts between specialized ministers of various countries where various systems of education are compared and the participants coordinate the synchronization of education in various European countries, Rector of Moscow City University Igor Remorenko told Kommersant. "In the current situation, such meetings are hardly possible. And most likely, this statement means that Russia won’t be able to participate in this shared comparing space," he noted.
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