Izvestia: Moscow to tighten online security
The Russian government will create a specialized center to analyze and monitor the traffic of domestic telecom operators and state data transmission systems to ensure the security of the Russian segment of the Internet, Izvestia writes, TASS reported.
The responsibility for establishing this agency was assigned to the government in the "sovereign Internet" bill, recalls Dmitry Shtukaturov, Managing Partner at Attorneys and Business Moscow Lawyers Bureau.
"In the future, this federal government agency will have to endorse the system for implementing the measures listed in the draft law. The whole procedure is in line with clearly defined regulations stipulated by the legislation," the paper quotes him as saying.
Meanwhile, the press service of the TransTeleCom telecommunication company noted that the proposed measures would make it possible to fight shady traffic schemes through the state border, including those controlled by operators registered abroad.
"According to our data, Russian operators lose more than 375 mln rubles ($5.7 mln) annually due to existing non-transparent business models. As a result, the budget loses corresponding tax deductions," the company stressed.
The government should be ready for various emergency situations, including natural calamities and man-made disasters. If that is the case, the restoration of communication services and Internet access could be conducted swiftly, Izvestia’s source in a specialized government agency said. "At present, there is no unified technical system that would automatically collect, process and analyze information about the topology of communication networks, traffic flow and emergency situations. Creating a center for monitoring public communication networks makes it possible to handle system tasks," he explained.
On the other hand, Mikhail Braude-Zolotarev, Director of the Center for IT Research and Expertise of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), believes there is no need whatsoever to control operators. "The Internet will continue to exist without regulators and advisers. This is just the use of resources by people who want to do that and come up with these sorts of activities," he emphasized.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: How the US leader’s trump card will affect trade talks with China
US and Chinese representative have made significant progress during negotiations in Washington. They have been discussing the mutual obligations that the parties will have to shoulder in order to end the trade war.
However, so far, Washington and Beijing have failed to come to terms, as the March 1 deadline for a deal to keep tariffs on Chinese goods from rising is fast approaching, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
US President Donald Trump is set to receive top Chinese trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, on Friday, and that meeting could clarify a lot. According to media reports, the US president’s trump card at the trade talks with Beijing is the prospect that he may put off his ultimatum to impose 25% duties on Chinese goods worth $200 bln.
Alexander Lomanov, Chief Research Fellow at the National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, explained in an interview with the paper there are prospects for reaching "a limited accord." "It is hard to believe that all duties imposed last year will be lifted on March 1, so a compromise is more likely. However, there is every likelihood that a more detailed deal that would suit both parties will be put off until the second half of the year or even later," he said.
Those entrepreneurs who are interested in doing business in China will keep mum on their problems. They will try to find common ground with their Chinese partners, fearing that excessive publicity will exacerbate the situation. As for control over government subsidies for cutting-edge technologies in China, any mechanisms of external supervision, let alone restrictions, have been virtually ruled out. Their emergence would mean that China is actually losing its economic sovereignty, ceding it to the Americans, the expert added.
RBC: Belarus became re-exporter of Russian coal to Ukraine in 2018
Belarus, which does not produce coal, exported 854,000 tonnes of that fossil fuel in 2018, RBC writes citing data provided by the National Statistical Committee of Belarus made public on Thursday. This is a five time greater than in 2017, and the growth was primarily due to supplies to Ukraine.
About one-half of Ukrainian thermal power plants are working mainly on hard coal, which used to be supplied from mines in eastern Ukraine that are now controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.
A year ago, Gaz-Alyans, a company controlled by businessman Sergei Kurchenko, was the sole supplier of coal from the Donbass republics.
Russian companies had to switch to indirect coal supplies to Ukraine due to trade restrictions imposed by Moscow, a source in a Russian coal company and CEO of another coal company informed the paper. "We cannot transport it directly, because no quotas have been allocated," one of them said. According to RBC’s interlocutor, Russian companies exported coal to Ukraine under the guise of transit to Europe. The coal was transported to Ukrainian ports and was not exported anywhere. However, Russia restricted transit as well starting on May 1, 2018.
Some Belarusian media outlets earlier reported that coal from the Donbass region could be supplied via Belarus not only to Ukraine, but to other countries too, including Poland.
Profiting off coal re-exports is quite beneficial for Belarus, the paper quotes Maxim Khudalov, Director of the ACRA Corporate Ratings Group, as saying. Currently, the issue at hand is small amounts, so one cannot say that, by doing so, Minsk will be able to compensate for its losses from growing Russian oil prices due to the completion of Moscow’s tax maneuver. Minsk estimates its potential losses at $10.8 bln within the next six years and asks for compensation. Belarus, as a Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member, used to receive Russian oil duty-free, but now it will be on equal footing with other consumers because of the tax maneuver.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: NATO beefs up presence in Black Sea, can be hint at Kerch Strait repeat
NATO’s warships have begun their first patrol mission in the Black Sea this year. According to the Allied Maritime Command, its purpose is "to enhance interoperability with Allied and Partner mariners in the Black Sea."
Russian politicians and experts view that as a potential threat, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
"NATO’s latest drills in the Black Sea can serve as a cover for staging military provocations in the run-up to the Ukrainian [presidential] election," said Boris Rozhin, an expert at the Center for Military-Political Journalism. In his view, Ukraine may try to pull off another provocation in the Kerch Strait. "Moreover, Kiev openly announced such plans saying that it is ready to repeat it, if NATO ships are nearby," he added.
Meanwhile, officials in Kiev continue to blame Moscow for tensions in the Black Sea, citing what they describe as "the unprecedented militarization of the Black Sea Region by Russia."
Moscow has ramped up its military muscle in the southwestern region and the Black Sea due to Ukraine’s openly aggressive plans and statements about the alleged annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Donbass, Captain 1st Rank Oleg Shvedkov, Chairman of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Trade Union of Military Servicemen, told the paper.
According to the expert, NATO could step up its military presence in the Black Sea as well. "NATO ships can operate near Russia’s border on a permanent basis through the rotation of ships in order not to violate the Montreux Convention (which allows ships of non-Black Sea powers to remain there for no more than three weeks). However, they are unlikely to make such a move now, because that will require substantial material and military resources. Fortunately, there is no real military conflict in the Black Sea, except for Ukraine’s petty provocations," he said.
Izvestia: South Ossetian president says ready for direct talks with Georgia
South Ossetia is ready for negotiations with new Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, if Tbilisi signs a memorandum on the non-use of force, the republic’s President Anatoly Bibilov told Izvestia.
"We have always said that we are ready for direct negotiations with Georgia or talks through mediators, and we want Russia, first and foremost, to act as a mediator. At the same time, there is a requirement on our part, which Georgia should meet. I have in mind a memorandum on the non-use of force. The South Ossetian people must be sure that Georgia has a responsibility to the world community in the form of this memorandum and that it will not use military force against people," he stressed.
South Ossetia expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the republic this year, Bibilov went on to say. "Vladimir Putin has an offer to visit the Republic of South Ossetia. The invitation for the Russian president is always open. Of course, the Russian leader will be invited to celebrations to mark the 11th anniversary of the recognition of the republic’s independence by Russia," Bibilov added.
When asked whether he had plans to take part in the Yalta International Economic Forum this year, he answered in the affirmative, adding that South Ossetia has good relations with Crimea.
"At the 5th Yalta International Economic Forum, we will continue to explore the possibility of implementing the projects, which would be of interest to both the Republic of Crimea and South Ossetia. It is quite possible that new specific agreements will be signed during the forum. Today, for example, we have a project, which involves Crimean winemakers. Its implementation has begun, and the first shipments of wine produced by us have arrived in Russia," Bibilov said.