Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, February 7, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: What awaits Trump after botched impeachment crusade
The completion of the impeachment trial, in which US President Donald Trump was acquitted, will solidify his position during the election campaign and improve his chances of being re-elected in November 2020, experts interviewed by Izvestia said.
Besides, the impeachment bid, which the US leader had repeatedly castigated as a witch-hunt, drove the Republican Party to rally around him. This, along with the image of a solid winner, will enable him to win over undecided voters.
Of course, the outcome of the impeachment trial can be called a victory for Donald Trump, says Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev. "He had to be on the defensive for several years, first due to Robert Mueller’s probe and then because of the impeachment process. Now, he can do what he does best, that is, pursue an offensive policy acting from the position of strength," he pointed out.
eferring to Trump’s re-election chances, Rogulev stressed that the incumbent US president had a number of advantages over other candidates. For one, he does not need to spend money on campaigning, since he appears on TV and in the press daily.
As for the alleged "Russian meddling" hoopla, both Congress and the US intelligence community will continue to keep a close eye on the situation, Rogulev added.
Alexey Portansky, a Professor of the Higher School of Economics, explained to Izvestia that Trump would extensively use the botched impeachment bid in his election campaign. He will show that this unjustified crusade was directed against him by schemers in the Democratic Party, the expert noted.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Coronavirus outbreak can disrupt upcoming session of China’s parliament
The novel coronavirus epidemic has become a serious test for the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Whereas in December and in the first three weeks of January, China’s media outlets tried to downplay the danger of the infection focusing on positive events, the tone changed dramatically in the second half of the month. Media reports began to say that it was the party that could protect people from the deadly virus. The Communist Party’s Political Bureau set up a commission to monitor the situation. However, President Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, is not among its members.
According to some political commentators, Xi does not want to be identified with efforts by local officials, who made a number of mistakes in the fight against the disease.
Against this backdrop, Reuters reported some time ago citing a senior official in Beijing that the annual sessions of the Chinese parliament and the People’s Political Consultative Conference could be postponed. Both events usually take place on March 5.
"The decision to put off the session would be absolutely logical, since the main government bodies are under a quarantine. Several thousand delegates plus hundreds of journalists who were expected to come to the capital at that time would probably be unhappy that their lives were at risk," Alexander Lomanov, Deputy Director of the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told the paper. He noted that China had failed to provide a timely response to the coronavirus outbreak. In his view, restrictive measures should have been imposed before the New Year’s holidays began. "Some in the West suggest that students returning to universities and colleges could rebel. I believe, however, that young people in China can express their discontent with only one thing. The country’s leaders warned that people should be prepared for ‘black swan’ events, that is, an unexpected disaster. However, when that ‘black swan’ appeared, the government’s reaction was inappropriate," he said.
Kommersant: US to beef up its presence in Central Asia
The US Department of State has unveiled America’s new strategy for Central Asia. Judging by the document and statements made by US diplomats, Washington is ready to vie for influence in that region with Moscow and Beijing, Kommersant writes.
The new strategy stresses, in particular, that Central Asia is now viewed by Washington as an important geopolitical strategic region regardless of US presence in Afghanistan.
However, it contains little information on what precisely the Americans are going to do there in the future. It is clear though that the United States seeks to weaken the ties between the Central Asian states on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, while pulling the region towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Kommersant’s sources in Russia’s government agencies said after familiarizing themselves with the document that they had expected more, because Washington announced that strategy a few months ago promising some kind of a breakthrough. One of the sources suggested that this is just a declarative part of the document, adding that it should also have a classified part.
At the same time, Russia is concerned about Washington’s potential steps in the region, particularly in the area of security. According to some reports, plans are in store to create an anti-crisis center in Kazakhstan to train specialists to protect nuclear facilities. The United States is also in talks with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on transit flights to and from Afghanistan through their airspace by US warplanes and reconnaissance aircraft. Moscow believes that the Americans seek to gain a foothold in the region with the help of such projects and agreements in order to use it to contain Russia and China.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia opposes more cuts in oil production
Russia refuses to accept a new reduction in oil production of 600,000 barrels per day, which is expected to stop the ongoing drop in oil prices amid the coronavirus outbreak in China, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. This provisional cut in oil output was recommended on Thursday by the OPEC Joint Technical Committee.
According to media reports, Russia has asked for more time for consultations.
Moscow’s reluctance to cut production stems from a decrease in export revenues. Exports from Russia decreased by 2.1% over the past year, while net exports dropped by more than 11%. At the same time, the country continues to increase the physical volume of production and exports of hydrocarbons.
"Russia is interested in high oil prices. However, by cutting production, it cedes its market share to other countries. According to the latest data for 2019, Saudi Arabia supplied 7% more oil to China (83.32 mln tonnes or 1.67 mln barrels per day) than Russia (77.64 mln tonnes or 1.55 mln barrels per day). Thus, Russia ceded its title of China’s main oil supplier," Vyacheslav Abramov, director of the BCS Broker sales office, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Alexey Antonov, an Alor Broker analyst, did not rule out that Moscow had taken a wait-and-see-attitude. "The hysteria around the coronavirus outbreak is gradually subsiding, the winter season in Europe is nearing its end. Everything seems to indicate that the market can return to normalcy by the end of February without the shock therapy from OPEC," the paper quotes him as saying.
Izvestia: Russians can be tested for immunity to coronavirus
The novel coronavirus can become part of a program to monitor Russians’ herd immunity to various infections, specialists from the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology informed Izvestia.
"Everyone is now closely following the development of the 2019-nCoV epidemic, which is raging in China and which has already penetrated into other countries," Vladimir Gushchin, who heads the institute’s pathogenic microorganisms population variability mechanisms laboratory, told the paper. "Given the spotlight and general anxiety, I can assure you that if the virus retains its relevance as an epidemiological factor, it will certainly be included in the analytical system of the all-Russian monitoring of herd immunity in the future."
"It is not improbable that [in the future] the coronavirus will be something mundane, and we will be vaccinated against it. If the immunity is short-lived, then revaccination is possible. To determine that, the monitoring of social immunity will be required," he specified.
The response of the immune system to diseases should be of interest to scientists, without doubt, says member of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house) Healthcare Committee Boris Mendelevich. However, it is essential to make sure that they are concerned not only about the coronavirus, he noted.
"We have a large number of pathogenic viruses. The fatality rate from the novel coronavirus is about 2%. During the SARS outbreak, it reached 10-15%. I believe that mortality rate is the main criterion when choosing a disease for research," the lawmaker explained.