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Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, November 6, prepared by TASS
Media: Russian experts give their take on US election
This year’s US presidential election is unlikely to wrap up without a legal battle and scandals, experts polled by Izvestia note. However, the chances that the situation might change in favor of the candidate dissatisfied with the results are not looking great. Meanwhile, the vote count in four key US states has remained unfinished for three days in a row, and tensions in American society are rising.
According to estimates made by major American TV channels, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is in the lead. In order to win the US presidential race, a candidate needs 270 out of 538 electoral votes. Trump has filed lawsuits claiming irregularities in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia and has demanded a recount in Wisconsin, which is bound to lead to a contested outcome.
"While not all votes are counted, it remains up in the air. Trump still needs Georgia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and then he can get the rest bit by bit. So, through his behavior, he is trying to hit those states in an attempt to tie them to himself and avoid them going to Biden. He is also hoping for a recount in some states, it seems. If he is able to initiate a recount in Nevada or Wisconsin, he will try to get a lead there. Of course, Biden is feeling more confident. So far, he has more electoral votes. However, over the next few days, Trump will try to change this situation," Director of the Institute for US and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Valery Garbuzov told Izvestia.
However, if Pennsylvania, Georgia or North Carolina go to Biden at the last moment, the Democrat can declare himself the victor.
A Biden victory in the race could change the course of Washington’s anti-Russian sanctions, with the Russian financial sector under threat, experts quizzed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta suggest. The US is likely to salvage their economy, which has been hit by the biggest global crisis in the past 100 years, at the expense of other countries, including Russia, they add.
Both Trump and Biden will choose a foreign policy course that will not benefit Russia, First Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma International Affairs Committee Dmitry Novikov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Nevertheless, Biden’s policy on Russia is likely to be tougher. "Both Trump and Biden will lead a rather unpleasant, to put it mildly, course on Russia along the international arena through different means," the lawmaker said.
If Biden wins, he is expected to get tough on Russia, Delovaya Rossiya’s Business Ambassador to California Ilya Mikin agrees. "A Trump victory would be more preferable for economic relations between Russia and the US. If we look at the outcomes of 2019, the turnover between both states rose by 4.9% despite the sanctions. And if Trump wins, this will be his last term, so he’ll be able to act more freely and continue improving relations between our states," Mikin stated.
Izvestia: Russia calls on Azerbaijan and Armenia to abandon ultimatums
A week after the most recent round of talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers, all visible signs of a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh have dissolved. Both sides have increased the number of attacks on border areas, with Stepanakert, the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, coming under fire. The Azerbaijani parliament told Izvestia that Baku is getting ready to begin the demining of four areas around Karabakh "released from occupation." Meanwhile, Moscow is calling on the warring parties to return to the negotiating table and abandon the language of ultimatums. Experts interviewed by Izvestia think that the conflict might become a long-lasting one.
Moscow is calling on both sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to abandon the language of ultimatums and move on to substantive talks without preconditions, as stipulated by the OSCE Minsk Group, Chairman of the Russian State Duma’s (lower house) Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov told Izvestia.
According to political analyst Denis Denisov, the weak effect of the three previous rounds of talks on a truce in Nagorno-Karabakh can be attributed to the fact that the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group are currently preoccupied with other issues. The US is holding a presidential election, and France is going through a conflict with the Islamic world due to the recent wave of terrorist attacks in Europe.
"Russia sees the Karabakh conflict as an important area that requires regulation. However, it also is keeping a close eye on the US presidential race, the events in Belarus, the ongoing political crisis in Kyrgyzstan and the conflict in Syria," the expert explained.
He added that so far, the conflict is raging on like it did when it broke out on September 27, which means that the spike of tensions in Karabakh is likely to be long-standing, unless third countries interfere in the situation and put direct pressure on the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders, Denisov concluded.
Kommersant: Belarus eyes purchase of Russian oil fields
Earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated his intention of purchasing Russian oil fields, however, it will be difficult for Belarus to find any major assets up for grabs, experts told Kommersant. Even though Minsk’s desire to reduce its full dependency on Russian oil supply is understandable, analysts doubt that any of the major players would agree to sell a significant chunk of assets to Belarus. The most likely outcome is the purchase of shares in small projects, they added.
It unlikely that Belarus will buy any major Russian oil fields, experts note. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on November 5 that this matter is currently under discussion. The BelTA news agency informed that Lukashenko had addressed his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin with a request to consider Belarus’ purchase of Russian assets during a phone call on November 4.
Andrei Polishchiuk, an expert with Raiffeisenbank, said that Minsk might need the potential purchase of a Russian oil field to ensure the supply of oil to Belarusian refineries. He pointed out, however, that this scheme will not be much more beneficial than direct purchases, because if the oil is sold at a cheaper rate, the economy of those fields will suffer. Nevertheless, there will not be an issue with the supply of oil in the event of any disputes over oil prices with Russia, the expert added. He noted that the most likely outcome is that Belarus would purchase a share in the developed oil fields not far from Belarusian borders, and any major Russian assets are unlikely to be put up for sale.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Russian ruble strengthens after US presidential election
Nearly all world financial markets are experiencing a solid growth wave after the US presidential election. The Russian ruble, also supported by the rising oil prices, is no exception. Experts revealed to Rossiyskaya Gazeta that the US dollar might cost 73 Russian rubles by the spring.
On Thursday evening, the dollar went down by 2.5 rubles on the Moscow Exchange, sinking lower than 77 rubles. The euro lost more than two rubles, backtracking lower than 91. The ruble index of the Moscow Exchange and the dollar RTS index went up 3% and 6% accordingly. All the key global indices - in the US, Europe and Asia - remained in the green zone as well.
This wave of optimism on the markets is due to three factors, experts told the paper. The completed US election is a positive factor for risk assets, as political uncertainty will decrease, Sovkombank Chief Analyst Mikhail Vasilyev said. Secondly, the US Senate is likely to remain Republican, while the House of Representatives will have a Democratic majority, which can ensure a moderate economic policy in the United States.
Thirdly, the need to overcome the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic offer hope for a swift approval of a new package of support measures for the US budget, which is also a positive factor for the markets, Vasilyev added. In this case, the US Federal Reserve System is likely to increase purchases of state bonds to finance public expenditures, which will have a negative effect on the dollar. The greenback’s weakening will in turn be beneficial for all risk assets, including the ruble. The demand for risk assets is also going up due to a new wave of monetary stimulus packages from major regulators across the world, Dmitry Babin, a stock market expert at BCS Broker, told the paper.
The rise in oil prices is providing additional support for the ruble and Russian assets, with Brent going up 10% this week, reaching over $41 per barrel. The market responded positively to the reports claiming that OPEC+ states might put off for several months the increase in oil production by 1.9 mln barrels a day set for January 1. Besides, the OPEC+ states might raise oil production cuts if needed.
Izvestia: Number of migrant workers in Russia down by nearly a third
The amount of migrant workers in Russia has reached 1.8 mln people, which is 22.5% lower than the year before (2.3 mln people), Izvestia reported on Friday, citing the recent data provided by the Russian Interior Ministry as of the end of September.
"There has been a decrease reported in all categories of foreign workers, including those employed with licenses: 1,376,100 in 2020 (as of September 30, 2019 - 1,744,100)," the ministry informed, noting that the drop hit 21.1%. The amount of active work permits has gone down by nearly 30% as well - 85,700 compared to 121,800 last year," the officials added.
The article reveals that the number of citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union working in Russia is 26% lower than last year (333,000 compared to 450,000 the year before). Those citizens form the bulk of migrants working without a visa.
The Russian Ministry of Labor told Izvestia that in 2020, the number of employees with a working visa has dropped by nearly 36,000. Besides, the quota set by the ministry on the number of foreign workers in all Russian regions has been reduced (105,000 workers compared to 141,000 the year before). The ministry added that the highest amount of foreign citizens come to Russia for work from China, Vietnam, Turkey, India and Serbia.