Press review: Trump under fire over ‘Russia bounties’ hysteria and China eyes Russian oil / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Trump under fire over ‘Russia bounties’ hysteria and China eyes Russian oil

Press review: Trump under fire over ‘Russia bounties’ hysteria and China eyes Russian oil

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, June 30, prepared by TASS

Izvestia: Trump accused of betraying US military’s interests

Another scandal is unfolding in the United States and President Donald Trump is at the center of it. According to media outlets, he allegedly ignored intelligence reports saying that Russian intelligence agencies had supposedly paid the Taliban bounties to kill US troops in Afghanistan. Trump’s political opponents now have another reason to criticize him, Izvestia notes.

The two leading US newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, have recently published sensational articles. The New York Times, in fact, accused the Trump administration of betraying the interests of the US military and American interests on the whole. The paper also pointed to Trump’s reluctance to accept the idea of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election and his initiative to bring Russia back into the G7.

Meanwhile, Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has rejected allegations about the group’s ties to any intelligence agency. According to him, the Taliban used their own resources to carry out assassinations in the past but a peace deal signed with the US in February 2020 ensures the safety of US troops.

This situation may significantly damage Trump’s hopes of reelection. Russian experts view it all as part of the US presidential election campaign.

First Deputy Chief of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Vladimir Dzhabarov pointed out that "the military never plays such nasty tricks." "The fake news that the Americans bring up, accusing Russia of interfering in US elections and killing US troops in Afghanistan, show that they have lost all common sense," he told the newspaper. According to the Russian senator, "they have gone rogue in the heat of their electoral battle and the standoff between Democrats and Republicans, so they are talking trash and seek to bring entire world into their squabble."

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Chinese energy titans set sights on Russian oil

China’s oil majors that control entities importing over five mln barrels of oil per day are discussing plans to form a group to jointly purchase raw hydrocarbons, particularly from Russia. Experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta point out that groups like these are usually created for one reason only, which is to bolster their sway over oil prices.

Analysts doubt that there will be a surge in China's demand for Russian oil. "Given the fact that Chinese importers bought a large amount of oil when prices were at a low point in order to build up their stockpiles, one can assume that China’s oil demand won’t grow much in the coming months," BCS Premier’s Anton Pokatovich pointed out.

"The main reason why Chinese companies are coming together is to get the highest possible discount on oil purchases. This poses a risk to Russia. In fact, as an oil exporter, Russia will lose a number of diversified clients and get one major client instead. If the client’s mood and plans change tomorrow, Russian oil producers will actually lose all clients at once. It’s not the best scenario for the industry," said Yuri Mazur of CEX.IO Broker.

On the other hand, Finam analyst Alexei Kalachev believes that if such a huge buyer emerges on the market, it will boost Russian oil exports and help diversify geographical representation.

Vedomosti: Russia may carry on practice of days-long vote to include all elections

The decision to extend the vote on the constitutional amendments over several days has turned out to be worthwhile, said Federation Council Chairperson Valentina Matviyenko. Head of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation Andrei Klishas, in turn, noted that Russian senators planned to discuss the possibility of using the same pattern for other elections with the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Civic Chamber, Vedomosti wrote.

The constitutional vote is being held under specific rules, State Duma member Dmitry Vyatkin explained. "A special law was passed in this regard, and the CEC adopted a decree on the voting procedure," he said. According to the lawmaker, the authorities need to see how the vote goes and then decide if it is reasonable to hold elections over the course of several days.

"It would be logical to test this pattern at some municipal or regional elections and give the CEC the opportunity to enhance it. After that, changes to election laws could be made," said Alexander Pozhalov, research director at the Moscow-based Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Research. However, in his words, if the voting process lasts several days and temporary polling stations are created in residential areas, there is a higher risk of attempts to discredit the election process and undermine the credibility of elections.

"First, we need to analyze what the constitutional vote will lead to and try to figure out what the result would have been if the vote lasted for one to three days," political scientist Grigory Kazankov noted. According to him, one of the difficulties is that members of election commissions had to leave their jobs for a week, and it will also be harder to monitor the voting process. At the same time, pros include the possibility for voters to cast their ballots when it is convenient for them, so voter turnout will be higher, the expert emphasized. "It is unclear if this practice will be extended to other elections. But one thing is clear, if this is done, both the government and the opposition will have to change their campaigning methods," he concluded.

Izvestia: British pound may turn into emerging-market currency

The British pound, the world's oldest reserve currency, may turn into an emerging-market currency in the wake of Brexit and the United Kingdom's domestic economic problems, Izvestia wrote, citing research by Bank of America. The weakening British currency may somewhat depreciate the value of Russia’s reserves since six to seven percent of them are in pounds.

If the British pound is placed into the emerging-market category, it will definitely be viewed as a strong currency, Freedom Finance analyst Alexander Osin pointed out. Anyway, the world of investment is not interested in moving the historical trade and financial center from London, the expert added.

The main reason for uncertainty concerning the pound’s future is that the terms of duty-free trade between the UK and the EU are still unclear, BCS Asset Manager Andrei Rusetskiy noted. The exchange rate for the British currency will remain volatile until the issue is resolved.

As far as Russia is concerned, the pound's volatility won’t have any serious consequences. The United Kingdom takes up only about 2.5% of Russia’s foreign trade, Alfa Capital analyst Vasily Kaposov emphasized. Russia mostly exports raw materials and precious metals to the UK, and their prices are denominated in dollars on the global market, he explained.

Global oil and gas prices are more important for the Russian currency, AMarkets Analytics Department Chief Artem Deyev agrees. However, the British pound’s drop may slightly depreciate Russian assets kept in the Central Bank and in the Russian National Wealth Fund. But it won’t be crucial because the pound will still remain a more stable currency than the ruble, Deyev stressed.

 Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Majority of IT specialists bound to head back to the office

The number of IT workers who moved to telecommuting has sextupled, Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote, citing a report by the TAdviser analytical agency. Companies involved in the poll said that in the past, only 11% of their employees worked remotely but the number grew to 60% amid the coronavirus restrictions. However, most workers are expected to return to offices next year at the latest.

Experts say that remote work makes it harder to ensure the cyber security of companies. Member of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications Yevgeny Livshits pointed out that telecommuting raised data security risks. "If an employee catches a computer virus, chances are high that corporate servers and data will be affected. And it is also impossible to control unscrupulous staff members who may leak corporate data," he added.

"As for the possibility of continuing remote work after the pandemic, I would refrain from making ambitious forecasts," Parallels Senior Vice President Nikolai Dobrovolsky said. "Our experience shows that people miss social relationships. The most reasonable thing for workers would be to alternate between the office and home. Staying at home all the time has a negative impact on some employees," he pointed out.

Yana Shabanova, director of Atos Business Applications and Platforms in Russia, believes that telecommuting will remain relevant to a certain extent but will not prevail. "Some activities, such as communicating with clients and maintaining corporate culture, cannot be moved online," the expert emphasized.

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