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Press review: possible ban on LinkedIn in Russia and political stability in Japan

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, October 26


Izvestia: Moscow and Baghdad to share intelligence on Mosul

The Iraqi military has asked Moscow to provide information on militant units currently operating in Mosul and the adjacent areas, an informed source in military and diplomatic circles told Izvestia.

"The Iraqis have sent a formal request through the joint coordination center in Baghdad to furnish information on these units that is at our disposal, particularly, on their number, weapons and tactics," the source said. "Russia agreed and is currently preparing the data to be handed over to the Iraqi military at an early date."

For his part, Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) International Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, when talking to Izvestia, confirmed that Moscow sees no obstacles to providing information support to Baghdad. "Russia and Iraq are pursuing the same objectives in combatting terrorism," he noted. "I see no obstacles whatsoever to intelligence sharing without any restrictions."

According to military expert Vladimir Yevseyev, assistance to Iraq in the battle for Mosul is crucial due to the fact that militants are fleeing the city en masse heading for Syria. "There is no point for us in concealing intelligence information from our partners, which may facilitate the Iraqi army’s Mosul offensive. In return, we will receive the necessary information concerning, above all, terrorists’ movement towards Syria’s territory," he said.


Vedomosti: State Duma opposition moves to amend election legislation

Lawmakers from the Just Russia political party, Sergey Mironov and Oleg Nilov, have submitted to Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) a bill on a second round of elections in single-member constituencies, if none of the candidates secured more than 50% of votes, Vedomosti writes on Wednesday. In their view, the September parliamentary elections in Russia showed that the current system "violates the fundamental principles of democracy."

Representatives of other opposition parties likewise suggest amending the electoral law. Chairperson of Russia’s Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, earlier promised to collect all proposals and come up with the amendments after discussing them with experts.

This time the opposition’s proposals will be addressed to Sergey Kiriyenko who has recently been tasked with overseeing Russia’s internal policy, says Alexander Pozhalov, an expert at the Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research. In his view, the Central Election Commission is likely to insist on simplifying the signature verification procedures, but whether this idea will be supported by the authorities is a big question, since this will simplify nominating candidates from small parties and self-nominated candidates in presidential elections.

Meanwhile, electoral legislation expert, Andrei Buzin, believes it is necessary to change the principles of forming the election commissions and streamline the rules of nomination and registration of candidates, but the parliamentary parties will hardly agree with this. On the other hand, some minor changes like lifting the ban on criticism on TV, are possible, he said, adding that radical changes are unlikely to be approved.


Kommersant: Russia’s Internet watchdog may lock out LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, may turn out to be the first casualty of Russia’s Federal Law On Personal Data, Kommersant writes. According to the country’s Internet watchdog, the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, LinkedIn did not transfer its servers to Russia. Moreover, it collects and transmits information on citizens that do not use LinkedIn, without their consent, the watchdog stated.

According to the federal agency, the activities of LinkedIn include collecting, using, storing and transferring citizens’ personal data, which violates Russia’s legislation. Due to the fact that LinkedIn has no official representative office in Russia, the federal watchdog took legal action requesting the court to restrict access to this network. Moscow’s Tagansky District court had earlier upheld this petition.

"This is, undoubtedly, a high-profile decision, as it concerns one of the best known global online resources," said Yekaterina Tilling from the law firm, Tiling Peters LLC. She added that LinkedIn Corporation did not take part in the proceedings, even though it was informed about the case. "The court, thus, evaluated the evidence presented by the Federal Service and passed the ruling on its basis," she explained.

Meanwhile, Russian Presidential Adviser for Internet Issues, German Klimenko, told the paper that, "if the Federal Service… wins and blocks (LinkedIn), that will be a signal for those companies that did not transfer (Russians’ personal data). This also concerns Facebook, Twitter and all foreign companies."


Izvestia: No more ‘moderate opposition’ in eastern Aleppo

At present, Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist group, outlawed in Russia) is playing a leading role in battling Syrian government forces in Eastern Aleppo, member of the Syrian parliament and First Secretary of Syria’s Unified Communist Party, Hunein Nemer, informed Izvestia.

"Jabhat al-Nusra is the major force resisting the Syrian army in Aleppo," Nemer stated. "Other groups are cooperating with it. Besides, a few days ago we recorded an appeal by Saudi Arabia urging militants to unite into a single organization to fight against the Syrian army. In general, the majority of terrorists are nationals from other countries. Many of them do not speak Arabic."

The MP added that terrorists are currently controlling the areas, which are home to approximately 180,000 people. However, some just pretend to be civilians, but in reality these are mercenaries supporting the extremists.

According to Oleg Glazunov, an expert of the Association of Military Political Scientists, there are no more moderate opposition units in Aleppo after all the humanitarian pauses and ceasefires. "Only the most radical militants who have no intention of leaving the city remain there," he explained. "Moreover, they are prepared to die, offering fierce resistance. Therefore, there are no other options but to destroy these individuals. Urban combat action is not conducive to using aircraft, the effectiveness of armored vehicles is greatly reduced under these circumstances, whereas casualties increase. Apparently, it will be very difficult to force out the terrorists from the city."


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Proposal to extend Abe’s term seen as chance to solve major issues

The proposed extension of Shinzo Abe’s tenure as President of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, by introducing recommended changes to the party’s charter, would be an unprecedented event for Japan, which will make it possible to achieve political stability, Valery Kistanov, the Head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Stability is something the Japanese dream of, and they want to extend it. The advantages of this stability are a steady political course and respect among partners willing to deal with a predictable Japanese prime minister."

The Kyodo news agency earlier reported that Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party would discuss draft amendments to its charter on Wednesday. The issue at hand is the extension of Abe’s term as the party’s leader for a third term in a row instead of two. That will also allow Shinzo Abe to retain his post as prime minster for another three years after his current term of office expires in 2018.

According to Kistanov, one of the issues Abe is determined to tackle is the territorial dispute with Russia. "He is optimistic about the meeting with Vladimir Putin in December and believes that progress in this issue is possible with the Russian president with whom he was able to establish personal trust-based relations," the expert explained. He expressed doubt though that it will be possible to close the chapter on the Russian-Japanese territorial dispute at the summit, adding that "the continuation of the process will certainly follow, and this will again take time."


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