Press review: EU sanctions in Moscow go up in smoke, Russia plans crackdown on torture – Press review


Media: Russia urges West to start talks

Having received no clear response from the United States on Russia’s proposals for security guarantees in Europe, Moscow made it clear that it would not wait forever, threatening to use military means to respond to the refusal of the West to listen to its concerns. One thing to note is that Russia does not intend to speak with NATO and the European Union, but calls for bilateral negotiations with the United States and European nations. Paris and Berlin have already declared themselves ready to dialogue with Moscow. However, there are voices that are saying loud and clear that Russia is once again trying to divide Europe into spheres of influence, writes Kommersant.

Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics, Dmitry Suslov, stresses that Moscow’s position is based on the conviction that, from Russia’s point of view, European countries have not their own identity in terms of security issues. Second, discussions involving a large number of countries complicate the negotiation process.

According to Suslov, the start of a dialogue with the United States is the most likely scenario. It is difficult to say at the moment what necessary minimum Moscow will seek to achieve. The expert believes that it could be a question of preventing the expansion of NATO towards the East to include the former Soviet countries (except those which are already members of the alliance) and the deployment of infrastructure of fighting in the countries of Eastern Europe. In addition, Moscow is very likely to insist that the United States change its position on defense cooperation with Kiev and Ukraine’s implementation of the Minsk accords.

“I find the West’s reaction somewhat surprising. On the one hand, they expect everything from Russia, but on the other hand, they are astonished to hear Russia use such harsh rhetoric. The sharp tone indicates that the time when Russia acted from a position of weakness and defense is over, ”Russia in Global Affairs editor-in-chief Fyodor Lukyanov told Izvestia.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta: sanctions against Russian oil and gas industry go up in smoke

Soaring gas prices to a new high of $ 1,700 per 1,000 cubic meters and electricity prices above $ 200 per megawatt / hour have proven to be the most convincing argument against the new sanctions. of the European Union targeting the Russian oil and gas industry. Imposing these restrictions on the only country that supplies Europe with energy at prices several times lower than the market is myopic to say the least, writes Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The recent EU summit, the last this year, imposed no new sanctions on Russia despite increased pressure from the United States which expected restrictions on Russia’s energy sector to be extended. If the “Old World” countries are unlucky with the weather this winter, they may also have to drop the previous restrictions as their effect is now more detrimental to Europe than any predicted “impact” on Europe. Russian economy.

In the past, sanctions against Russia have by no means disturbed the nations of the “Old World”. The EU pursues a policy that suits it, stressed Associate Professor Valery Andrianov of the Russian Government Financial University. On the one hand, it claims to introduce devastating sectoral sanctions against Moscow, but on the other, it has no problem using Russian gas to heat homes on the mainland or Russian diesel to power its cars.

According to Alexander Kurdin, an expert at the Russian government’s Center for Analysis, import substitution programs have helped the Russian oil and gas industry adjust to the sanctions and, as far as technology is concerned, those sanctions are no longer the barrier that they were. Finam analyst Sergey Kaufman shares this point of view. The impact of sanctions has faded over time and now the absence of certain Western technologies is no longer as critical to the Russian oil industry as it was six or seven years ago, a- he noted.

Vedomosti: Russia prepares to crack down on officials who use torture

On December 20, a bill amending the Russian Criminal Code was submitted to the State Duma, which tightens penalties for officials involved in torture. According to the document, such crimes, which will now be considered extremely serious offenses, and will carry penalties ranging from four to 12 years behind bars, writes Vedomosti.

The bill applies not only to employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, but to almost all government officials, said lawyer firm partner Rustam Kurmayev and Partners Dmitry Gorbunov. Each case of torture involves its own way of providing evidence and there is sometimes a long delay before this type of crime is revealed, the expert noted. “However, the law is not retroactive, so it will only apply to crimes that are committed after it comes into force,” Gorbunov added.

According to Andrey Babushkin, a member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, the amendments will make everyone take torture more seriously since it will now be an extremely serious crime. “Yet, this will hardly facilitate the collection and evaluation of evidence,” Babushkin noted. In order to streamline the evidence-gathering process, it should be mandatory to open criminal cases on all reports of torture instead of just conducting pre-trial investigations, Babushkin said.

The amendments undoubtedly stem from incidents of torture in Russian penal colonies, as the issue has sparked “fierce public outrage,” said Konstantin Kalachev, who heads the group of political experts. He was confident that lawmakers would pass the bill.

Kommersant: Omicron triggers stock market liquidation

Stock markets have proven unable to resist the Omicron strain of coronavirus. Stock indexes in major countries fall amid rising infections and further restrictions. Experts expect purchases to resume no earlier than next year, writes Kommersant.

Most market players are not prepared to take risks, said Oleg Syrovatkin, senior global investment analyst at Otkritie Investment. However, according to BCS World of Investment asset manager Vitaly Gromadin, a drop in activity as the holiday season approaches adds to market volatility.

It looks like the global stock market is caught in a “perfect storm” where all factors except low interest rates and high liquidity are working in the bears’ favor in the market.

The Russian stock market could prove to be more stable than that of other countries, Syrovatkin noted. The financial guru explained that the Russian market had fallen before the others and that in addition, it was “much cheaper than other developing markets, not to mention developed markets.”

The head of the business operations department in the Russian stock market at Freedom Finance Georgy Vashchenko, in turn, says that the Russian market currently has no powerful engine that would drive it up or down, except for some assets, ” therefore it will follow the trend established by the foreign markets.

Vedomosti: Social unrest and pandemic bring left-wing millennial to power in Chile

Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old candidate representing the Chilean coalition of socialists and communists, won the country’s second round, leaving ultra-conservative Antonio Kasta far behind. The vote was affected by a crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as social and ethnic conflicts, writes Vedomosti.

The situation in the country has been overshadowed by unrest and looting. Authorities have declared a state of emergency in some areas in an effort to quell protests involving Mapuche Indians demanding that the government return their ancestral lands to them. Social instability began to mount even before the pandemic. In 2019, protesters against economic inequalities demanded a new constitution.

Due to the problematic social situation, radical left-wing forces competed with the far right in the elections, said Lyudmila Yakovleva, senior researcher at the Institute of Latin American Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was the social issues that impacted the vote the most, rather than the pandemic and economic challenges, which Chile has tackled quite successfully. Young people who do not remember the days of the military dictatorship are the main driver of social tensions. There is a strong demand for efforts to tackle inequalities and segregation, as well as for social reforms, among young Chileans, Yakovleva noted. Reforms in this regard have been underway since 1990, but young people are not satisfied with the progress made.

On the other hand, there is a large population group in Chile who share right-wing views. It includes businessmen and the upper bourgeoisie accustomed to the neoliberal economy and opposed to the socialist model.

That said, Boric faces the difficult challenge of carrying out in-depth social reform while maintaining Chile’s economic efficiency, the expert concluded.

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