- Press review: NATO spooked by myth of Russian ‘doctrines’ and RAND sparks Turkey coup talk
- Press review: Erdogan’s Idlib offensive a ‘question of time’ and why Haftar visited Moscow
- Press review: Russia to fight Dutch court’s ruling and Rome, Moscow focus on arms control
- Press review: EU insists on extending New START and sees Libya’s Sarraj as major headache
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, January 22, prepared by TASS
Media: Half of cabinet fails to make the grade in major government reshuffle
As many as 15 members of the previous Russian government have failed to make it into the new cabinet that was announced on Tuesday. The deputy prime ministers’ corps underwent the biggest shakeup. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin opted to reduce the number of subordinate premiers from ten to nine, with only three deputy PMs maintaining their positions and six new appointees coming on board. What’s more, nine out of 21 federal ministers are new, Izvestia writes.
Political scientists welcomed the changes in the government. "It seems that since the cabinet was formed very quickly, there are few politically motivated appointments. I can see many professionals who are known, first and foremost, for their previous professional activities," said President of the Russian Association of Political Consultants Alexei Kurtov. Director of the Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Research Dmitry Badovsky, in turn, pointed to continuity in areas where the ministers showed effectiveness.
The main thing that the previous cabinet’s financial and economic section lacked was the ability to ensure economic growth, Chief Economist covering Russia and CIS countries at ING Bank Dmitry Dolgin said, adding that the new government was likely to focus on that goal through boosting the National Projects. The makeup of the new cabinet’s economic section implies a focus on economic growth and efforts to ensure a stable and surplus budget, Academic Director of the Research Center for Financial Technologies and Digital Economy at Skolkovo-New Economic School Oleg Shibanov emphasized.
As for the defense and foreign ministries, experts say that the complicated international situation was taken into account and the ministers retained their posts. According to Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is directly involved in efforts to resolve highly important military and political issues concerning the crises in Libya and Syria. As for Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, replacing him with someone else "would mean a real foreign policy shift, and that would be too radical of a step," political scientist Nikolai Petrov pointed out.
Media: Had it not been for the USSR’s victory over Nazism, Israel may not have come to be, says Israeli top diplomat
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Israel for the first time in the past eight years. On this occasion, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz spoke to Russian newspapers about relations between the two countries.
In an interview with Kommersant, Katz pointed out that Israel considered Russia to be a very important strategic partner and sought to boost relations at the bilateral and regional levels.
The Israeli top diplomat was positive about progress in its relationship with Moscow. According to him, priorities in relations include efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear program, ensure the withdrawal of Iranian troops and pro-Iranian forces from Syria and put an end to arms supplies to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement from Syria and Iran.
The foreign minister said that Israel was working to promote cooperation in various areas, particularly in the economic and cultural areas.
In an interview with Izvestia, Katz emphasized that had the Soviet Union not triumphed over Nazism, the world’s history would have been completely different. Perhaps, the State of Israel would not have been established. The victory gained by the Red Army and the Anti-Hitler Coalition was part of a historical process that resulted in the creation of the State of Israel, Katz pointed out, adding that the country remembered the contribution of Soviet soldiers who had fought against the Nazi oppressors.
The Red Army liberated the Jews from most of the death camps, including the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, the 75th anniversary liberation of which is being celebrated in Jerusalem. It is one of the most important events aimed at commemorating those who died during World War II and the Holocaust, Katz noted.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: India sets sights on Russian diamonds
India seeks to bolster its jewelry exports, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported, citing Convener of the Indian Gem and Jewelry Export Promotion Council’s Diamond Panel Committee Sanjay Shah. According to him, if Russia reduced import tariffs on diamonds and jewelry, bilateral trade would grow as the demand for diamonds is increasing in Russia.
Indians have unique diamond-cutting skills, so the country is one of the world’s leaders in diamond production. Shah told the newspaper that 14 out of 15 diamonds in the world are polished in India.
However, competition on the global market is getting tougher as Belgium, Israel and other countries fight for consumer attention. In this regard, Sanjay Shah believes that boosting cooperation between India and Russia would make sense.
Although India helped establish diamond-cutting enterprises in Moscow and Vladivostok, in Shah’s view, it would be more economically feasible if the work was done in India, while Russia reduced tariffs on Indian jewelry.
India currently imports $2-3 bln worth of rough diamonds from Russia every year. The demand for diamonds has been growing in Russia, particularly among middle-aged people, so Russia is a promising trade partner for India. The two countries also need to boost cooperation in the fight against the illegal export of diamonds, which fuels rebel groups, particularly in Africa, Shah emphasized.
Media: Vaccine for new coronavirus can be created in six months
The development and trials of a Russian vaccine for the new coronavirus that emerged in China will take at least six months, Izvestia wrote, citing Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Center for Strategic Planning German Shipulin.
"It won’t be difficult to create a vaccine because the virus is a conserved one. However, the main issue with RNA viruses is that they are highly changeable, particularly those that have been spreading among humans for quite a while. This is why there is a risk that a vaccine will be made that would not work for certain virus strains," Shipulin pointed out.
Pavel Volchkov, who heads the Genome Engineering Laboratory at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), in turn, told Kommersant that the virus family that the Chinese coronavirus came from was the same one that had produced some previous viruses, and earlier outbreaks had made it clear "that they can be stopped by introducing barrier measures." "However, the virus is a respiratory one and in theory, it can spread rather easily, which is what we have been seeing lately."
Meanwhile, Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University Vladimir Nikiforov believes that "an epidemic resulting in hundreds of deaths is highly unlikely to happen." "China has reported less than 500 infection cases and four deaths. It means that the human-to-human transmission rate is lower than the common flu. Another fact proving that the virus is not highly-contagious is that the population of the city of Wuhan stands at 19 mln and if the contagiousness of this virus was comparable to that of the flu or measles, thousands would have been infected by now," the expert pointed out. "The hysteria is far too big for the situation," Nikiforov emphasized.
Kommersant: Internet users lose trust in opinion leaders
Internet users’ trust in bloggers has been plunging in Russia as well as across the entire world, Kommersant wrote, citing a research by the UM media agency.
According to the report, the number of Internet users who trust bloggers’ opinion about goods and services dropped globally in 2019. The previous poll, conducted in 2017, showed that 44% of respondents trusted bloggers, while in 2019, the rate came to 42%. The poll involved 56,300 Internet users from 81 countries, aged between 16 and 54.
As for Russia, the level of trust in the 16-54 age group has also been declining, UM experts told the newspaper. The downward trend primarily refers to the most popular bloggers. "Prices for advertising through such influencers are high, while investments don’t usually pay off. As a result, many advertisers lose interest in them," said PR Director at Epicstars’ Blogger Service Yulia Magas.
Market participants expect that the credibility of influencers will keep declining in 2020. Meanwhile, forecasts say that the amount of blogger advertising will keep growing, particularly based on increasing advertising rates, the establishment of new platforms and a rise in Instagram audience numbers.
"The level of trust in native advertising by opinion leaders will decrease as the market segment expands but it will not affect growth rates," Market Communications Director at Brand Analytics Vasily Cherny pointed out. The company estimates the size of "the white and grey market of influence marketing" at 20 bln rubles ($323.4 mln) based on figures for the end of 2019.