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Press Review: YouTube might leave Russia and OPEC may strike deal on oil production cut

Top stories in the Russian press


Kommersant: YouTube may leave Russia if law on online movie theaters is adopted

YouTube, the global, US-based video-sharing website may leave Russia if the country adopts a law on limiting the share of foreign owners of audiovisual services with professional content, Kommersant business daily writes on Wednesday citing a legal committee of the Russian Media-Communication Union and other sources.

"YouTube falls within the term ‘organizer of audiovisual service’ where users post their own content. The adoption of the law may lead to YouTube’s withdrawal from Russia’s territory," the paper writes. The service has both professional and user-generated content, but there is no means to limit one from the other, a source told Kommersant. Besides, the law may lead to increasing expenses on creating additional infrastructure, the source added.

According to the paper, Russia’s telecommunications operators, VimpelCom and MTS, also oppose the adoption of the law, which was submitted to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) last week by MPs Shamsail Saraliyev of the United Russia party and Andrei Lugovoy of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

The law limits foreign ownership of online movie theaters to 20% and introduces a range of other limits. In particular, the proposed legislation envisages restrictions on foreign participation (foreign control) on organizers of audiovisual services visited by more than 100,000 Internet users from Russia per month.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Serbia, China, Egypt and CIS countries may join Russian-Syrian coalition

The liberation of rebel-held northeastern districts of Aleppo shows the growing power of the Russian-led coalition forces fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. If the offensive against Aleppo continues at the same pace, its liberation may be expected very soon. This means that a turning point in the Syrian conflict is on the horizon, according to the paper.

Russian military and diplomatic sources are not ruling out that soon military contingents from the allies of Russia and Syria (Egypt, China, Serbia, and some CIS countries such as Azerbaijan and Armenia) could join the process of reconciling the sides in the country as ‘blue helmets,’ that is peacekeepers.

Sources told the paper that the Turkish president’s phone calls to Vladimir Putin could be linked to Ankara’s concerns that it does not control Aleppo anymore. Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be choosing now between either launching a large-scale war against Damascus, or deepening military relations with Russia and joining the coalition it leads, the paper writes. So far, Erdogan has apparently turned a deaf ear to Putin’s offers. Last week, he called on the US, Russia and other countries to create a no-fly zone in northern Syria.


Kommersant: OPEC to choose between quick revenues and long-term risks

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will try to strike a deal in Vienna on Wednesday on cutting oil production. Kommersant writes that the agreement announced in Algeria two months ago turned out to be just a statement and implementing it seems difficult. The upcoming meeting is considered to be the most important in its history since 1973, when the cartel’s Arab members launched an oil embargo against Western countries, experts say.

A short-term reduction in oil production and a hike in prices are beneficial to many OPEC countries and will somehow help in replenishing their budgets, but as for the long-term, this will only give US shale oil better prospects, the paper says. For reaching a deal, an agreement is needed between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and this consensus appears to be fragile even without taking into account the threat on the part of American oil.

Although it is difficult to forecast the meeting’s outcome, most experts interviewed by the paper estimate the chances for a deal at higher than 50%. The major argument is that low oil prices have hit the Saudi budget and Riyadh has to stabilize prices at a level of $50-55 per barrel.

Some analysts told Kommersant that Donald Trump’s election as US president threatens the nuclear deal with Iran, shaking up Tehran’s prospects of attracting investments in the oil and gas sector. That’s why Iran may opt for reducing production in order to increase revenues. Some experts say that the effect from rising worldwide oil consumption thanks to lower prices has been already exhausted and there is no sense in a further decrease.

In other words, the key argument in favor of the deal is short-term growth in OPEC countries’ revenues from a hike in oil prices to $55 per barrel, but the reduction in production raises long-term risks for the cartel.


Izvestia: Russia pays last respects to Cuba’s Comandante

Russia has no set international protocol for attending official memorial services and the fact that the country’s delegation to Cuba for Fidel Castro’s funeral was led by State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin rather than the president is sufficient under the circumstances, Alexei Makarkin, Vice President of the Center for Political Technologies, told Izvestia.

"For example, at the funeral of former US President Ronald Reagan in 2004, the country was represented by Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov, at the burial of former Czech Republic leader Vaclav Havel in 2011, then Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin came to the ceremony. Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko attended the funeral of South African leader Nelson Mandela (in 2013) and ex-Israeli President Simon Peres. At the funeral of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Russia’s delegation was absent," Makarkin said.

Had President Putin attended Castro’s memorial ceremony, it would have been perceived not just as a visit but as a milestone event, President of the National Strategy Institute Mikhail Remizov said. "But Fidel Castro is not a politician to whom Vladimir Putin owes something or with whom he had any special relations. In fact, he was already a political pensioner when Vladimir Putin started leading the country," he said.

The Russian delegation plans to return to Moscow overnight to December 1 to be present at the president’s state of the nation address.


Izvestia: Cuba to grow as tourist destination after Castro’s death

After the passing of Fidel Castro, the number of tourists to Cuba can be expected to grow as foreigners will rush to know more about the late revolutionary leader’s life and visit the places associated with him, Izvestia writes. The tourism business will step up to the plate and use this opportunity, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) told the paper.

Russia’s tour operators say the number of phone calls from people interested in going to Cuba has surged over the past days. A manager of the Caribbean department at ICS Travel Group, Anastasiya Obnosova, said the tourist flow to the Caribbean island from Russia was significantly higher this spring. "This comes due to Cuba’s warmer relations with the US. Our people were afraid that soon everything will become American there and they won’t be able to see a socialist Cuba," she said.

Experts say the influx of Russian tourists to Cuba will grow not only because of Fidel Castro’s death. "I think that if the flow increases, this is more likely due to economic factors," Vice President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Alexander Osaulenko said. "This may be linked to greater entrepreneur activity in Cuba’s tourism sector."

According to ATOR, 4.2 mln foreign tourists are expected to visit Cuba this year, compared with 3.5 mln in 2015. Over the past eight months, more than 31,000 Russians travelled to Cuba, a 14% increase, year-on-year, the country’s tourism ministry said. The Caribbean island is among top beach destinations this winter season for Russians.


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