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Russia lashes itself to punish Turkey

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 14:06
According to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), the decision to limit flights to Turkey means the closure of the most popular tourist destination among Russian tourists. The decision of the Russian authorities will lead to a large number of postponed tours and deal a huge blow to the tourist industry. According to ATOR, the total number of tourists who booked tours to Turkey from April 15 to May 31 (for the time when regular and charter flights from Russia to Turkey will be suspended) counts 533,200 tourists, of which more than 40 percent are families with children. The tours that have been booked for this period of time are evaluated at a total of 354.6 million euros (32 billion rubles), according to the ATOR website. Another 71 million euros (6.4 billion rubles) will account for the losses of medium and niche tour operators that switched to booking expensive tours to Turkey in the absence of their own traditional travel range. Another 6-7 thousand Russian tourists were to visit Tanzania in the same period of time.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia and China will make Northern Sea Route become the new Suez Canal

Fri, 02/04/2021 - 15:46
As it can be seen from last year's experience of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route, the limits of navigation are expanding due to climate change. New opportunities are opening up for the development of the natural resources of the Arctic and the development of international shipping. At the same time, the risk of aggravation of rivalry between Russia and Western countries in the region is growing. The volume of cargo transportation along the Northern Sea Route grows steadily from year to year. Even the pandemic did not stop it from gaining 4.7 percent in 2020 as compared to the previous year. The first shipment of liquefied gas from the port of Sabetta (the Yamal Peninsula) to the east took place already in May, although it usually happens in July. The Christophe de Margerie gas carrier carrying gas from the Yamal LNG plant traveled to China accompanied by an icebreaker. Many other ships followed. The experiment with the passage of the Christophe de Margerie and the Nikolay Evgenov LNG tanker on the Northern Sea Route in January 2021 without accompaniment was a success too, although this has never happened before. 
Categories: Russia & CIS

Oh no, Twitter is slow

Wed, 10/03/2021 - 19:31
On March 10, Russia slowed down Twitter. Roskomnadzor, the state communication watchdog, reported a slowdown of Twitter services on all mobile platforms and half of stationary devices. It goes about limiting the speed to download photos and videos, whilst text messages can be sent as usual. "In order to protect Russian citizens and coerce the Internet service to comply with the legislation on the territory of the Russian Federation, on March 10, centralized responsive measures were taken in relation to Twitter - the service speed was slowed down in accordance with the regulations," the press release published on the Roskomnadzor website said. The department promised to take measures "in accordance with response regulations (up to blocking the service) as long as calls to minors to commit suicide, child pornography, as well as information about the use of drugs remains online."According to Roskomnadzor, Twitter, starting from 2017 and to this day, has not taken any measures to delete messages containing suicidal calls, child pornography and information on how to use drugs. During that period of time, Roskomnadzor has sent more than 28,000 "initial and repeated claims to remove illegal links and publications" to the company. As of March 10, 2021, "3,168 materials containing prohibited information (including 2,569 posts calling minors to commit suicide, 450 posts with child pornography, 149 posts with information about the use of drugs) have not been deleted."
Categories: Russia & CIS

Should Russia obey ECHR and release Alexei Navalny?

Wed, 17/02/2021 - 19:54
The European Court of Human Rights demanded Russian opposition activist and blogger Alexei Navalny be released from custody. In this judgment, the ECHR relies on Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court on the application of interim measures. The rule is binding, and it is used if the court finds that the applicant is in danger.The news about the requirement of the ECHR to immediately release Navalny came from his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova. She noted that "the European Court of Human Rights applied Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court and ordered the Russian government to immediately release Navalny from the detention center." Mikhailova stressed out that such a decision was "made by the ECHR for the first time, and the Russian authorities must execute it."The ECHR made such a decision, "having considered circumstances and possibilities that jeopardise the applicant's life", taking into account "general circumstances of the applicant's current detention".On February 2, the Simonovsky District Court of Moscow overturned Navalny's suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case and replaced it with a real jail term.It should be noted that information about a decision that the ECHR could make appeared on February 16. As a matter of fact, the decision was made the same day, but it was reported only a day later.The ECHR decision was made public a few days before the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union, which, among other things, will be devoted to the topic of EU-Russia relations. The question about new sanctions against Russia will most likely be considered at the meeting as well.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Navalny's zugzwang for the Kremlin: Will Putin muddle along?

Tue, 02/02/2021 - 13:13
Pravda.Ru editor-in-chief Inna Novikova interviewed political strategist, president of the Federation for Electoral Policy Research Andrei Mironov about the latest major events in Russia associated with the trial of Alexey Navalny. Why did Navalny return to Russia? What is his strategy? Is Navalny a fighter for people or a Western protege?"The return of Alexey Navalny and all subsequent events that have been happening to him have become one of the most talked-about topics on social media. How do you think the situation may develop in the nearest future?" "One can of course admire his courageous act, because this is a very well thought out, but at the same time a very courageous step that Alexey Navalny made. Yet, as a specialist in political technologies, I approach this from the point of view of certain technologies that the team of Alexey Navalny used to achieve a particular goal.Hands down, the Navalny team won this round playing against the methodologists of the presidential administration. The authorities simply acted according to the old methodology. They follow the path of the methodists of the Communist Party of the Soviet era. Therefore, the Navalny team won this round, there are no doubts about that. "What do you think about the protest actions and the appeals from the Navalny team and from Navalny himself to young and even juvenile citizens to take part in those protests? After all, this is a clear and gross violation of the law, a provocation. Naturally, the authorities had to react.""There are political strategists, and there are methodologists. A good political strategist achieves victory through the strategy of the enemy. Methodologists work according to manuals. This is the main mistake that the authorities make. The authorities are taking the steps that political strategists calculate, and Navalny calculated that. What is the Navalny project about? Alexey Navalny has been working for his own name inside the country for 10 years. After his poisoning and return home from Germany, he faced a question of how to continue as a political strategist, how to enter politics.Naturally, Navalny's return is a well-thought-out and balanced step, but he obviously needed a safety cushion. A law of political technologies says that a candidate who works to achieve his goal must have two things:  recognizability,  and capitalization of his recognizability to achieve a particular goal. Navalny became famous while being abroad. He thus obtained a safety cushion, with which he returned to Russia. He knew perfectly well that he would be arrested. Accordingly, he took steps to make the authorities swallow the bait, and so they did. What surprises me is why the methodologists of the presidential administration played on that  option so awkwardly. Why did they have to redirect the airplane for landing? They should have let him come home to Russia quietly. On January 19, he had to speak to the PACE. Navalny would have safely flown there, and then he would have flown for Joe Biden's inauguration. In this case, Russian methodologists could make him look like an agent, who works for the West. Instead, they decided to arrest him right at the airport while foreign reporters were filming everything on their cameras. Such a move stirred up an international scandal. The President of Finland was the first to make a call to the Kremlin, then other European officials did the same, and so on and so forth. This is how the safety cushion works. Therefore, Alexey Navalny is now practically safe, as I think. Only a madman can now harm Navalny, because sanctions will immediately follow.The resolution of the European Parliament, where 581 MPs vote in favour of the sanctions is also a part of Navalny's safety cushion, and the Kremlin can hardly cope with such a big problem. To crown it all, Navalny has created a zugzwang situation: every next step of the authorities will be worse than the previous one. All the bans and prohibitions that the Russian authorities resort to to keep the state of affairs in the country as calm as possible work in the opposite way. The forbidden fruit is always sweet, and they can hardly stop public discontent from growing. They want to think that they try to put the flames down, but instead they add more fuel to the fire. This is a big mistake that the Russian authorities make.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Is Russia ready to recognise Donbass republics?

Mon, 01/02/2021 - 19:43
If chief propagandists of the nation get involved in something, one should pay closer attention to that. It goes about the Russian Donbass forum that takes place in Donetsk.The participants of the forum promulgated the doctrine of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The doctrine stated the statehood of the republics should be strengthened as Russian nation-states, plus the two unrecognised republics should be returned to the sphere of the Russian historical space.The chairman of the Union of Journalists of Russia, Vladimir Solovyov, who is known to be Russia's chief patriot, sent a welcoming message to the participants of the forum. RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan took part in the forum and made an emotional speech. "The people of the Donbass want to be able to be Russian, to speak Russian, so that no one can ever take away this right from them. We must let it happen, we must give them that opportunity. The people of the Donbass want to live at home and be a part of our great, generous Russia. Mother Russia, take the Donbass home," exclaimed Margarita Simonyan. It is worthy of note that Mrs. Simonyan is not only the editor-in-chief of RT - she is the head of the large media machine, the mouthpiece of Russian state media and Russian official propaganda, which works targeting foreign audiences.Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, commenting on Simonyan's remarks, noted that the issue of the Donbass becoming part of Russia was not on the agenda "either directly or indirectly." Spokespeople for the Foreign Ministry of Russia said that Simonyan expressed her personal views on the subject. She did, but it is doubtful that she could say such things without the permission from the relevant bodies.The forum was held against the backdrop of fruitless negotiations within the Contract Group for the Peaceful Settlement of the crisis in the Donbass and the Norman Format talks. Boris Gryzlov, the head of the Russian delegation to the Contract Group, described Kiev's actions as "absolutely irresponsible and aggressive." In his opinion, the Ukrainian authorities not only fail to comply with the Minsk agreements, but continue to nurture the idea of ​​the military suppression of the Donbass crisis and "set themselves up for its certain implementation."The head of the Ukrainian delegation, Leonid Kravchuk, seemingly denied those suspicions, having said that the return of the lost territories by military means was out of the question. However, he immediately made a very significant clarification: "in the near future."The forum came as a message to US President Joe Biden, who, according to his press attaché Jane Psaki, "did not hold back" in his recent telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's official spokesman, said that Russia and the United States shared completely different views regarding the Donbass crisis. All this means that the state of affairs can change at any moment. Will Russia eventually recognise  the two unrecognised republics?
Categories: Russia & CIS

In Russia, Alexey Navalny gets what he thought he would

Mon, 18/01/2021 - 17:04
Alexey Navalny returned to Russia on January 17. He was detained upon arrival at the Sheremetyevo Airport. A court arrested Navalny for 30 days. All this was expected, as the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments earlier promised to detain Navalny for failing to appear at the meeting of the criminal executive committee as a probationer. The reaction from Western states followed immediately, which was also expected, even though, as one shall assume, Western officials knew that Alexey Navalny could be detained immediately upon his arrival in Russia from Germany. Amnesty International was the first to react to the news about Navalny's detention. Literally a few minutes after the announcement of Navalny's arrest, a large message was published on the official website of the organization condemning the move of the Russian authorities and calling Navalny a prisoner of conscience. The promptness of the publication and the size of the text indicate that it was prepared in advance.
Categories: Russia & CIS

No more Open Skies

Fri, 15/01/2021 - 16:50
On January 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement announcing the start of domestic procedures to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. Another arms control agreement may thus be terminated. USA withdraws from the treaty first In November of 2020, the United States officially pulled out from the Open Skies Treaty. Before the move, Washington had repeatedly accused Russia of non-compliance with the agreement. In particular, the Americans claimed that Russia restricted flights over the Kaliningrad enclave, as well as in the ten-kilometer corridor along the borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.In 2014, a campaign was launched in the United States to restrict inspection flights of Russian aircraft. The Americans in particular said that the new Russian aircraft were outfitted with more advanced digital equipment that enabled them to obtain more information vs. the volume of information that American aircraft collected when flying over Russia.During Barack Obama's presidency, Russian inspectors were not allowed to conduct several flights over the territory of the United States. During the presidency of Donald Trump, the US shaped its course to exit the treaty, including other arms control agreements. The ball is on the side of the West Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Federation Council committee on international affairs, noted that the treaty could have been saved after USA's withdrawal from it if other parties to the treaty - primarily the members of the North Atlantic Alliance - had wanted to save it. According to him, they could have decided not to transfer information collected during their inspection flights over Russia to the Americans. As Kosachev noted on his Facebook page, it needed to be confirmed additionally, since Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty reads as follows:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin takes medical precautions to meet leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow

Mon, 11/01/2021 - 20:03
Russian doctors were monitoring the health of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev before their meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin cautious to meet in Moscow Arkady Dubnov, political scientist and expert on CIS countries, said in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio station that a group of Russian doctors arrived in Yerevan to monitor the state of health of Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan. The latter had already been living in self-isolation, but no reasons for that were specified. Another team of Russian doctors arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, to monitor the state of health of the Azerbaijani president. This preparation "ensured a safe meeting between Putin and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, which they could not refuse.It is worthy of note that Armenian President Armen Sargsyan was diagnosed with the coronavirus infection after he returned from London after a surgery that he had had in the British capital. Putin unwilling to get vaccinated As it appears, Russian president Putin, unlike many other world leaders, including his 81-year-old Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin, Queen Elizabeth II and her spouse (aged 94 and 99 years old respectively), US President-elect Joe Biden (78 years old), is unwilling to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.Earlier, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that the president "was thinking about getting the vaccine shots," but added that Putin would make the decision on his own. He also said that the Kremlin had no intention to keep the news secret, although no information has been revealed so far about Putin's vaccination against COVID-19.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Alexey Navalny's murky poisoning case: Still waters run deep

Thu, 24/12/2020 - 18:15
The US State Department blamed the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russia for the attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the help of Novichok-class nerve agent. "The United States believes that officers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) used a Novichok nerve agent to poison Mr. Navalny. There is no plausible explanation for Mr. Navalny's poisoning other than Russian government involvement and responsibility," a State Department spokesperson said. "Of course, President Putin and the Russian government would have us believe otherwise." Russia obviously highly likely behind Navalny poisoning "Russia has suggested numerous, often contradictory, conspiracy theories. Let's be clear -- these types of conspiracy theories are nothing more than a means to deflect attention from the serious questions before the Russian government, which it has yet to answer," the spokesperson said.The United States has "full confidence" in the findings of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which confirmed the earlier findings by German, French and Swedish laboratories proving that Navalny was exposed to the Novichok nerve agent.According to unconfirmed reports, the United States has prepared new sanctions against Russia in response to the Navalny case. However, in order to effect them, one needs to obtain approval from the entire American government and Donald Trump personally. It is worthy of note that Donald Trump has never blamed Russia specifically for poisoning Navalny. In addition, Trump cast doubts on Moscow's involvement in major cyberattacks on American government structures that took place a few days ago. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in September that the Russian administration could be behind Navalny's poisoning. The above-mentioned statement from the US State Department makes Moscow's involvement clear. Russian President Putin stated at his annual press conference on December 17 that Navalny's investigation into the group of people who supposedly poisoned him was nothing but an act of  "legalization of materials from American special services" with which Alexey Navalny is allegedly connected. Therefore, the Russian president said, Russian special services should "keep an eye on him." He also said that "if they really wanted to poison Navalny, they would have implemented the intention to the end, otherwise - who needs him?" Putin wondered. The operation to poison Alexey Navalny was supposedly conducted by the group of at least eight FSB agents, members of the secret department operating under the cover of the FSB Institute of Forensic Science (aka NII-2 FSB or military unit 34435), the joint investigation by The Insider, Bellingcat, CNN and Der Spiegel said. The publications conducted their investigation with the participation of Alexey Navalny himself and the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) that he chairs.According to the official version, the main goal of NII-2 is to conduct expert examinations: the institute participated in investigations into all major events that Russia saw in its recent history. These included:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia could twist a few arms in the West with the help of Sputnik V vaccine

Wed, 23/12/2020 - 17:19
The cooperation between Russia's Gamaleya Center and AstraZeneca transnational company will change the perception of Russia in the world and will give an enormous potential to Moscow's "soft power." AstraZeneca and Gamaleya Center finalize deal On Monday, December 21, Russia's Gamaleya Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology and AstraZeneca company signed a memorandum of intent on the prevention of coronavirus. Russian President Vladimir Putin took direct part in the event. At a videoconference dedicated to the signing of the memorandum, Putin expressed confidence that "such an attitude towards partnership can serve as a good example of combining scientific forces, technologies, investments to protect the life, health and safety of millions of people on the planet."Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, runs commercial activities of the Gamaleya Center), on his part, noted that RDIF and AstraZeneca was going to launch a study into the development of joint, combined vaccines against the coronavirus infection in three countries. "We offered AstraZeneca to use one of the components of our vaccine to create another effective drug. AstraZeneca has accepted the offer from the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Gamaleya Center and will begin a clinical trial of its vaccine in combination with Sputnik serotype 26 adenovirus in the near future. The trial will be conducted in three countries, including the CIS and the Middle East," said Kirill Dmitriev, adding that the Russian company R-Pharm will be one of the sponsors of the study.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Why can't Russia respond to Navalny poisoning accusations?

Tue, 15/12/2020 - 17:21
Western intelligence services fabricate different versions about the attempted assassination on Russian opposition activist and blogger Alexei Navalny, claiming that their versions are based on reliable data. Why doesn't Moscow have its own reliable version of Navalny poisoning? Tried to kill him for two years, but never killed him Western media outlets widely advertise Bellingcat's investigation into the "poisoning" of Alexei Navalny. The oppositionist himself published a photo of FSB officers who allegedly had been following him all over Russia since 2017 in order to eventually poison him. Based on open data or marketable "databases" about flights and phone calls, it was concluded that the above-mentioned FSB officers always flew with Navalny at all times and were on board the plane at the time, when he felt unwell. Allegedly, the officers have "either medical or chemical education and specialization." Furthermore, one of those men is believed to be associated with the institutes that allegedly work in the field of chemical weapons. "We see that doctors from the FSB, who obtained Novichok at a secret institute, using their cover service passports, traveled with me twice. Incidents of poisoning occurred in two places," Navalny concluded.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia starts playing hydrogen games with Europe

Tue, 08/12/2020 - 16:18
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline can be used to supply hydrogen. For the time being, this is just a theory. However, Gazprom has recently announced an intention to set up a new company - Gazprom Hydrogen. The company will deal with the implementation of innovative hydrogen projects.Gazprom's idea is to build a plant in northern Germany to produce low-carbon hydrogen from Russian natural gas. The plant is to be built in the area of the outlets of Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines. This is one of the options for cooperation between Russia and Germany in the field of hydrogen energy. So far, hydrogen cannot compete with traditional energy sources in terms of production costs. However, the above-mentioned project targets the future, which one can hardly refer to as remote future as it goes about 15-30 years. In July, the European Commission unveiled a strategy, according to which hydrogen fuel is to become part of EU's energy system by 2030. Over the next four years, the EU is to launch the construction of electrolysis plants that will enable the production of up to 1 million tons of renewable hydrogen. In the future, hydrogen is to be used in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize, for example, in heavy industry and transport. How EU plans can affect Russian companies At the same time, the EU recognizes the need to use natural gas until 2030, to say the least. There is not too much time left either - only ten years. Of course, the EU is not going to achieve significant technological progress during this time that will give it an opportunity to refuse from the use of natural gas for good. Yet, it will introduce additional taxes that will primarily affect suppliers from Russia. It goes about the so-called carbon tax, which is to be introduced in the European Union. This tax stipulates that suppliers of goods to the European market, which to burn a lot of fossil fuels in the process of their production, will have to pay about 30 euros per each ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This tax may affect Russian companies in the first place, and they can suffer considerable financial losses when the new tax is implemented. Most of Russia's exports to European countries accounts for oil, gas and ferrous metallurgy products.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russian liberals share their expectations of Joe Biden

Thu, 19/11/2020 - 18:07
US-based Time magazine has recently published a curious article about the hopes that the Russian opposition pins on Joseph Biden. After Biden steps into the White House, a new era will begin, which will finally open the way for Russia to democracy, the article says. At least, this is how the opposition sees the future of Russia. When Biden takes office "When Biden enters the White House in January, Russia's embattled opposition figures want the U.S. President to more forcefully confront the Putin regime with more rigorous and widespread sanctions in order to help them rebuild democracy in Russia," the article says. Who are these "embattled opposition figure"? Of course, it goes about Alexey Navalny, although he does not comment. The article only says that he congratulated Biden on his victory. Well, the author of the article noted that the Democratic candidate, unlike Trump, condemned the "poisoning" of Navalny.Another "opposition leader", activist of the Russian democratic movement Vladimir Kara-Murza was obviously delighted to talk to Time. Having stated that "it is only Russians who can bring democracy to Russia," he immediately gets down to business:
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin considers recognising People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk

Thu, 19/11/2020 - 17:19
Russia may recognise the independence of the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as of Transnistria, Putin's recent interview dedicated to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh suggests. The independence of the unrecognized is recognized in the "interests of the people" In an interview on the Karabakh conflict on Tuesday, November 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that "the fact of non-recognition of Karabakh, including by Armenia, has left a mark on the course of events, as well as on its perception."Putin draws parallel with 2008 Georgia conflict. "We have to be frank here: at one time, after criminal, without any doubt, actions of the former Georgian administration (I mean striking our peacekeepers in South Ossetia), Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We found as fair the expression of the will of the people living in Crimea, and the desire of the people living there to reunite with Russia. We reached out to people, we did it openly," Vladimir Putin said.
Categories: Russia & CIS

New bill to make Putin untouchable for life

Tue, 17/11/2020 - 19:20
Russian MPs started discussing the bill "On guarantees to the President of the Russian Federation who has terminated his powers." The bill was submitted to the State Duma for consideration in early November. What the new bill is about The bill was authored by the head of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation and state construction, Andrei Klishas, and the head of the State Duma committee on state construction and legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov.The explanatory note to the bill notes that in accordance with the Constitution of Russia, the president can be removed from office and deprived of immunity only pursuant to charges of high treason or another serious crime. Such charges will have to be brought down on the president by the State Duma (the Parliament of Russia), and the State Duma and the Federation Council will have to make relevant decisions based on conclusions of both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.Both the decision of the State Duma to bring charges against the president and the decision of the Federation Council to deprive the former head of state of immunity must be adopted by two-thirds of the votes of the total number of senators and deputies of the lower house of the parliament. In addition, such decisions have to be initiated from at least one-third of MPs.According to the current legislation, the procedure for depriving the head of state of immunity can be initiated by the chairperson of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who can send a relevant submission to the State Duma.The bill under discussion stipulates that the former head of state will not be brought to criminal or administrative responsibility, nor will he be detained, arrested, searched or interrogated. The difference with the current legislation lies in the fact that such restrictions currently apply only to acts committed during presidency, not afterwards. No warranties for Mikhail Gorbachev During the discussion of the bill, MPs discussed whether the guarantees of immunity in question may extend to former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev. As it follows from the answer of one of the authors of the bill, such guarantees are not provided.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin buys Lukashenko's loyalty

Thu, 05/11/2020 - 17:35
Vladimir Putin buys Alexander Lukashenko's loyalty by supporting his idea of acquiring an oil field in the Russian Federation, expert Sergei Pikin believes. Putin buys Lukashenko's loyalty On Wednesday, BelTA news agency, citing the press service of President Alexander Lukashenko, reported that Vladimir Putin, in a telephone conversation with his Belarusian counterpart, supported his idea of acquiring an oil field in the Russian Federation by Belarus."The President of Belarus turned to his Russian counterpart with a request for a possible acquisition of an oil field in Russia. Vladimir Putin supported this idea," BelTA informs.Sergei Pikin, the chairman of the Energy Development Fund, told Pravda.Ru that this is a political step, in which Putin is "buying Lukashenko's loyalty."Oil and gas resources still remain Russia's prime trump card in the negotiations between Russia and Belarus on integration processes, because Belarus does not have such resources, Sergei Pikin said.As for natural gas, it goes about the price, and it is unlikely that anything can be changed here, because Beltransgaz is the property of Gazprom, not Belarus, he noted. Oil is everything for Belarus "Oil is important. Belarus refines most of its oil it gets from Russia and then sells it for export. Therefore, it is important for Minsk to receive oil at minimal costs in order to get the maximum margin in exporting and refining it. I don't think it will be super attractive projects that our giant companies can not develop themselves, but Belarus may have interest in the deposit that Russian companies show less interest in," Sergei Pikin said.The possibility of acquiring an oil field by Belarus will be work developed in cooperation with relevant departments, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.In early January, Belarus planned to reduce oil imports from Russia to 30-40% of its needs. Alexander Lukashenko put the question to Moscow bluntly: either Russia sells oil to Belarus at a discount or there will be no integration within the Union State.In 2019 alone, the duty-free price on oil that Belarus buys from Russia (24 million tons) saved the country about $1.67 billion. The country processed 18 million tons at its refineries and exported the rest of the oil, and Minsk derived profit from the duty (about $ 418 million) for itself.However, the ongoing tax maneuver in the oil industry in Russia nullifies duty-free trade, as the proceeds from the mineral extraction tax (MET) increase proportionally.Even if Belarus acquires a deposit in the Russian Federation, it will be forced to pay the MET, which will sharply reduce the margin. This once again proves the political nature of the statements of both leaders.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize yet again

Thu, 24/09/2020 - 20:53
On September 24 it became known that Russian President Vladimir Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Writer and editor-in-chief of the President newspaper, Sergei Komkov, became the initiator of the nomination. According to him, if Putin does not receive the prize, the Nobel Peace Committee "will have to be closed." How the writer explained Putin's nomination Generally speaking, the President newspaper reported the nomination of the Russian President for the Nobel Peace Prize as early as on 9 September. It was then noted that Professor Sergei Komkov (he is not only a writer and editor-in-chief) had already nominated Vladimir Putin for the prize in 2013. It is worthy of note that Putin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and 2016.On September 24, the writer gathered a special conference, which was dedicated exclusively to his initiative. "We must understand: either they are servants of those dark forces who are ready to vote blindly and always for all kinds of evil forces, or they are still real descendants and real executors of the will of the great Nobel," Komkov said, adding that if Putin does not receive the prize, the Nobel Peace Committee "will have to be closed.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Russia reduces imports of palm oil

Fri, 28/08/2020 - 19:33
In the first half of 2020, Russia has decreased imports of palm oil for the first time in six years. During the first half of 2019, Russia imported 506,000 tons of palm oil, and only 473,000 tons - during the same period of this year. The imports of palm oil in the Russian Federation have thus decreased by seven percent.Russia has ben continuously increasing palm oil imports since the late 1990s. This sector of imports has seen a tenfold increase over this period of time to a record-setting 1.06 million tonnes in late 2019. Palm oil enjoys great demand in the food industry: it is convenient for manufacturers to use it, and the cost of palm oil is lower in comparison with other vegetable and dairy fats.Making one croissant on a traditional recipe requires about 25 grams of butter, which costs about four times as much as its vegetable analogues. When ready, the croissants will look absolutely the same in comparison with those made with the use of vegetable oil substitutes, so it makes no sense for manufacturers to use expensive raw materials.During the last couple of years, Russia has been importing about one million tons of palm oil every year, primarily from Indonesia. Most of this volume - about 90 percent - is used in the food industry  by confectioners, bakers, and dairy products manufacturers.The decline in the imports of palm oil in the first half of 2020 may be due to the strengthening of state control over the quality of dairy products. In 2019, it was forbidden to display food products containing milk fat substitutes on the same shelves with products that do not contain such substitutes. The Russians consume only a small proportion of palm oil with milk substitutes - only 12-13 percent. Most often, palm oil is used in the confectionary industry. The decline in palm oil imports is not associated with the confectionery industry, it comes as a result of the introduction of new rules for the sale of products with milk fat substitutes, experts say. The temporary closure of cafes and restaurants could affect palm oil imports, as cafes and fast food outlets use a palm oil containing mixture for deep-fried cooking. Therefore, the demand in palm oil may go back to its common values already in 2020 due to a temporary decline in the purchasing capacity of Russian consumers amid the pandemic.
Categories: Russia & CIS

Kremlin plays three wise monkeys speaking about Navalny's poisoning

Tue, 25/08/2020 - 20:12
The Kremlin currently sees no reason to initiate a criminal investigation into the alleged poisoning of Aleksei Navalny, and considers accusations against the Russian authorities nothing but "empty noise," said Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Russian president. "First, one needs to identify the substance and establish what caused this condition. There must be a reason for the investigation. For the time being, the patient is in a coma," said Peskov, adding that the investigation should be based on the fact of poisoning with a particular substance. Peskov noted that the version of Navalny's poisoning can only be viewed as one of the versions of what happened to the opposition politician. According to Putin's press secretary, there are "many other medical versions", including taking certain medications and body's response to certain conditions."All these versions were reviewed by Omsk doctors and specialists from Moscow in the very first hours after the incident," the Kremlin spokesman said, stressing that Russian doctors did not find signs of the poisoning in Navalny's body.Dmitry Peskov criticized the West for trying to present the version of Navalny's poisoning as the only version of what happened to him, and noted that the medical analytics on the issue among Russian and German doctors is the same, "but the conclusions are different."
Categories: Russia & CIS