- Press review: US may use terror sponsor label against Russia and what about the amendments
- Press review: Russia votes on constitutional amendments and Astana trio meets on Syria
- Japan sticks to its position on Kurils in light of constitutional amendment in Russia
- Press review: Trump under fire over ‘Russia bounties’ hysteria and China eyes Russian oil
Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, September 30, prepared by TASS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Afghan presidential election held amid blasts
The preliminary outcome of the Afghan presidential election will be announced on October 19, while the final results are expected on November 7. However, one fact is already clear: no matter who is elected president, the country will remain plagued by war, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The September 28 vote marked this year’s third attempt to hold a presidential election in Afghanistan. Initially scheduled for April 20, the election was first postponed to July 20. The main reason why the authorities had to postpone the vote twice still remains. The Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) kept threatening to use violence to disrupt the election. On election day, at least 32 people were killed in attacks on polling stations.
According to Arkady Dubnov, an expert on Central Asia, an unexpected break in the Doha peace talks between the Taliban and the US prompted incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to run for re-election. Participants in the talks claimed that a peace agreement would soon be signed but the negotiations were suspended on September 8 at the initiative of US President Donald Trump.
"If the talks hadn’t been suspended, a peace agreement would have been reached and the election would have become meaningless, at least for the incumbent Afghan president. However, he still has little chance of remaining at the helm of the country, even if he wins the vote," Dubnov said. He pointed out that if an agreement with the Taliban was signed, the country would see a change of government.
The expert believes that the election won’t help end the bloodshed in the country. "It can hardly be considered as a step towards peace. It is more like an intermediate stop on the road leading to real peace that may be achieved if the United States - and then the Kabul authorities - have successful talks with the Taliban," Dubnov emphasized.
Izvestia: Russia counts on cooperation with the Council of Europe
Russia expects to have constructive dialogue with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). At the same time, members of the Russian delegation told Izvestia Moscow did not rule out that some foreign lawmakers might make provocative statements about the legitimacy of Russia’s participation in the Assembly.
The PACE autumn session will take place from September 30 to October 4. Russia’s delegation will hold a full-fledged series of meetings on the PACE platform for the first time after a three-year break. Moscow was stripped of the right to vote in the Assembly following the 2014 events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The situation was resolved in June 2019, when PACE passed a resolution making it possible for Russian legislators to return to the Assembly. Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy, who heads the delegation, told the newspaper that Moscow was set "for constructive work and open dialogue with everyone who is open for it."
According to Russia's Permanent Envoy to the Council of Europe Ivan Soltanovsky, Chairperson of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Frank Schwabe’s recent visit to Russia is one of the signs indicating Moscow’s readiness for cooperation. During the visit, Schwabe held meetings with the Russian Foreign Ministry, the State Duma and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and was also received by Chechnya’s authorities.
Moscow is ready to work in the interests of a common European space stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok, Head of the State Duma Committee on Finances Anatoly Aksakov told the paper. He is also part of the Russian delegation.
However, the Russian delegation members don’t rule out that their foreign colleagues, particularly those from the Baltic states, the UK and Poland, may put forward provocative statements against Moscow.
"We hope that common sense will prevail and there will be fewer outbursts of Russia-hate. Besides, Ukraine’s delegation won’t take part in the session," State Duma Deputy Speaker Igor Lebedev pointed out. "Following the Rada election, the delegation went through a turnover, so we hope it will include no notorious persons who used to make provocative statements," he said.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Turkey may face another coup
In the past year, almost a million members have left Turkey’s Justice and Development Party led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The reasons behind the exodus include an economic crisis and a controversial military campaign in Syria, Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote.
According to media reports, many of those who left Erdogan’s party, have joined former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, both of whom announced the establishment of their political parties.
"A political figure such as Davutoglu, who enjoyed much influence in the past, has significant support among conservative and religious circles that usually vote for the Justice and Development Party," said Turkish political scientist Kerim Has. "However, Babacan, who used to tackle economic development issues, poses a greater threat. A thing to remember is that he may rely both on his conservative supporters and on other forces as well, including the Kemalists and the Kurds, which provides him with more opportunities," the expert added.
There is another important aspect to the establishment of two new parties. "If we take into consideration the fact that apart from common people, some lawmakers will also side with Davutoglu and Babacan, it will create serious difficulties for the current authorities… The pressure on the system will grow, which may result in a snap election," Has explained.
"In order to remain in power, Erdogan will need more foreign policy adventurism to encourage the Turkish people’s nationalist and religious sentiment," the analyst noted. It means more military operations in Syria may take place, as well as another potential coup attempt.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Russia calls for restoring military communications in the Arctic
In a run-up to a Senior Arctic Officials meeting, First Deputy Secretary General of Russia’s Security Council Yuri Averyanov has spoken with Rossiyskaya Gazeta about Russia-US contacts on Arctic issues and Moscow’s development tasks in the Arctic.
According to him, Arctic development "is one of Russia’s priorities," because "according to estimates, the region has about 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of untapped gas resources," in addition to unique biological resources and opportunities for the development of transport.
Besides, the national Arctic development strategy "envisages boosting multilateral cooperation between Russia and other Arctic states." In particular, Moscow maintains dialogue with Washington, Averyanov said, adding that "contacts on Arctic issues are quite constructive and fruitful." "Efforts continue to improve the legal framework concerning navigation safety, fishing and scientific cooperation," he said. The Americans don’t avoid dialogue and "regularly participate in international meetings hosted by the Russian Security Council."
According to Averyanov, the Arctic Council plays a huge role in promoting multilateral cooperation in the region, though "there are certain limitations" on its activities. "In particular, the Council actually doesn’t discuss military and political issues, while in the past, the chiefs of the general staff of the regional countries used to meet every year," the Russian Security Council’s deputy secretary general noted. "Unfortunately, these meetings were suspended in 2014 at the initiative of our Western partners. It would be good to restore such a communications channel so that the Arctic can remain a low-tension zone," Averyanov concluded.
Vedomosti: European countries are giving up on coal
Coal stockpiles at large European ports are growing as consumers choose cleaner gas. Coal consumption has dropped because of warm weather and a decline in gas prices. Besides, coal prices are also facing pressure from renewables, Vedomosti writes, citing foreign media reports.
Coal's decline on the western markets is an inevitable trend, so Russian coal companies will have to learn to work in this new environment, experts say. In the long-run, Europe definitely will not increase coal consumption, a senior official at a big coal company told the newspaper. "The decline in consumption will depend not only on gas but also on the development of the nuclear energy sector because it will help Europe meet its needs without using coal," he explained.
Even if expectations for alternative energy proved excessive, coal won’t be able to compete with more environment-friendly and cost-effective natural gas, said ACRA Corporate Ratings Group Director Maxim Khudalov.
Western European countries will inevitably cease the use of coal. Germany is discussing an initiative to ban the import of thermal coal. The country will use up its own reserves, which will be sufficient for another 15 years, and then will shift to gas and renewable energy. The only markets to the West of Russia, where the country’s coal producers can maintain their position, are the Eastern European states, Khudalov points out. They are not ready to shut down coal power plants yet, but under the pressure of the EU environmental rules, they will use only high-quality enriched coal. In this regard, Russian coal companies have an advantage over Australian and American producers, the expert emphasized.