Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, December 29th, prepared by TASS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia must wait and see economic impact of coronavirus vaccination
The positive economic effect of the vaccination campaign is yet to be seen in Russia, as the inoculation rate is still lower than the rate of infection. There is a possibility that the rate of spread of the pandemic will not decrease and the vaccine’s significant positive effect on the world economy may not be seen in the coming year, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. About 1 mln people have already been inoculated in the United States, and China plans to vaccinate about 50 mln people with their own vaccines by mid-February next year. Experts believe that inoculating the required numbers will end by the fall in developed countries. And this will allow some sectors of the economy to recover to pre-crisis levels.
Experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta believe that it is too early to talk about the impact of the vaccination on the economic recovery, because it is not entirely clear how vaccines will shape immunity. On the other hand, they believe even if the population in Russia and other countries receives sufficient and stable immunity over the next year, the economic recovery could take much longer.
"Vaccination is recognized as the best way to achieve immunity. According to the WHO, global vaccination coverage should be 65-70% to develop immunity to the new coronavirus. When the country’s population has strong antibodies to the coronavirus in such volume, we can talk about the impact on the economy and reducing the burden on public health," Co-chairman of the Russian Union of Patients Yuri Zhulev told the newspaper.
"Vaccination will make it possible not to impose quarantine in countries and will save them from introducing lockdowns, but the economy will not recover quickly from vaccines on its own," First Vice President of Opora Russia Pavel Sigal told the newspaper.
"The population’s income plunged to serious levels not seen in the last 50-70 years. This means that in order to restore the economy in any country, it won’t be enough to carry out mass vaccination and restart industries. We also need to increase the income of people to secure consumer demand … Therefore, an economic recovery should not be directly connected with vaccines. For the economies of different countries, many factors are important in addition to the coronavirus drug," the expert concluded.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: ‘Belarusian protest aims at lies, violence, and lawlessness of the state’, says exiled opposition leader
Belarusian opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya became the talk of the town for this year in politics. In six months, she met with the leaders of many countries, but neither the unprecedented support from overseas, nor the incessant domestic protests have so far led to any regime change in Belarus whatsoever. In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Tikhanovskaya talked about the characteristics of the Belarusian protest movement, Western sanctions, and possible contact with Russian officials.
"The Belarusian protest is aimed at lies, violence, and lawlessness of the state and [the movement] is characterized by the absence of a unified core and a single leader. This is a phenomenon that covers all segments of the population, and this is the key to its strength and resilience. Belarusians are not protesting in favor of Tikhanovskaya or other politicians, they just are demanding change for themselves and their families," she said, noting that peaceful methods force dictators to leave and do not create more violence. "Changing the government peacefully is an opportunity for Belarusians to form a political culture in which election fraud is impossible and people hold power," Tikhanovskaya believes.
On European sanctions, she noted "[the] people's protests on the streets, in houses, along social networks are the main levers of pressure, and not sanctions. The most important and effective pressure is inside Belarus". According to Tikhanovskaya, "External sanctions are just one way of influencing the behavior of an illegitimate ruler and his entourage". At the same time, she believes that Europe can influence Lukashenko.
The opposition figurehead noted that contact with Russian officials might be established. "We are open to discussions with all those who can help organize a multilateral dialogue on resolving the crisis in Belarus based on respect for the sovereignty and independence of the country and the will of the Belarusian people," she said, adding "We support mutually beneficial cooperation with any country that respects our sovereignty".
Kommersant: Ceasefire violations continue in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense has reported a new violation of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Baku, the incident took place in the Hadrut area, just like two weeks ago. Yerevan and Stepanakert deny the information, claiming that "no shots were fired from the Armenian side." In one way or another, the settlement of the situation is once again on the shoulders of Russian peacekeepers, Kommersant writes.
Russian peacekeepers have not yet commented on the new incident, but past experience suggests that their response will depend on both sides to confirm their information, the newspaper writes.
Azerbaijani political scientist Ilgar Velizade has no doubt that the incident near Hadrut was provoked by the Armenian side, or more precisely, by the old guard of Armenia’s establishment, who are now seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Pashinyan and hope to strengthen ties with Moscow. "Conflict is their [main] ingredient. They need a confrontation between Baku and Moscow, Moscow and Ankara," the expert told Kommersant. "They expect that if their plan succeeds, Moscow will turn to Yerevan and stand up for the Armenians."
The new incident in Hadrut might be one of the topics of the meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, which will take place on December 29 in Sochi.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Transnistria ready for talks with Moldova's new president
Transnistria’s President Vadim Krasnoselsky has stated he is ready for any type of dialogue with Moldova’s new President Maia Sandu. That said, Sandu has previously talked about her intention to discuss the Transnistrian issue with Moscow and her unwillingness to do so with Tiraspol. Moldovan experts told Nezavisimaya Gazeta they are confident that Sandu will discuss and plan everything concerning Transnistria in Kiev, where she will pay her first international visit.
Anatoly Tsaranu, Moldova’s ex-ambassador to Russia and Director of the Chisinau-based Politicon Center for Strategic Studies and Political Consulting, told the newspaper that Sandu's visit to the Ukrainian capital would be decisive as far as the plans of the new Moldovan leadership go. He suggested that in Kiev, Sandu "may be provoked to take tougher measures against the separatist region on the Dniester."
The new Moldovan president's goal is to withdraw the Operational Group of Russian Forces from Transnistria and the Russian peacekeepers along with them, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The new Moldovan president is ready to discuss this with Moscow, but Putin had previously answered the questions Sandu was going to ask him. According to the Russian head of state, the peacekeepers will leave Transnistria when the Transnistrian conflict is finally resolved.
At the same time, Krasnoselsky stated that the Transnistrian leadership is ready for any mode of dialogue with the new leader of Moldova. "Our position remains the same. We are ready for dialogue. Both in the "1+1" format and in the "5+2" format (Moldova, Transnistria are parties to the conflict, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE are mediators, while the US and the EU are observers)," the Transnistrian leader stressed. At the same time, Transnistria will insist on the presence of Russian peacekeepers on the banks of the Dniester, because owing to that, negotiations are possible, Krasnoselsky believes.
Izvestia: Experts expect oil prices to drop to $30
By the end of the year, oil prices are expected to hover at $50 per barrel, despite the new coronavirus strain that has appeared in the UK. Nevertheless, forecasts for 2021 are less optimistic. December forecasts of $60 per barrel have shifted downwards to an average of $55 per barrel. At the same time, some experts believe that in Q1 2021 prices will fall to $30, Izvestia writes. The main factors that influence prices, include not only the development of the situation around the vaccines and quarantine measures, but also news about production in the Middle East, as well as measures to support the US economy.
Experts are tentative about the future of oil prices. 2020 ushered in the pandemic, and "the lockdown of the world economy that followed it, which created an ideal storm on the oil market," Director of VYGON Consulting's State Regulation of Energy Daria Kozlova told the newspaper. At the same time, she noted, "The number of new cases in the world has exceeded 700,000 per day, New Year's celebrations around the world are canceled. All this will have a significant impact on the pace of the recovery of demand. According to various estimates, it will not return to pre-crisis levels before 2022."
Leading QBF analyst Oleg Bogdanov agrees that by the end of 2020, the situation on the oil market has improved markedly, with Brent futures contract having reached the level of $50, he recalled.This allowed for a slight change in the OPEC+ agreements, it was decided in early 2021 to gradually begin to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels per day.
"However, these decisions coincided with the second wave of coronavirus. Europe, the United States and other countries once again began to impose restrictions, and to announce lockdowns. The general situation has been exacerbated by information about a coronavirus mutation in the UK. Oil prices began to fall again. I think that in the first quarter of next year we will face the negative scenario on world markets. Risks will rise, asset markets will go down, including oil. We can assume that prices will quickly fall once again to the level of $30-35 per barrel," the analyst told Izvestia.