Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, October 7, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Any country can be scapegoated in CoE, warns senior Russian legislator
As long as double standards exist in the Council of Europe, all delegations will face serious risks to their full-fledged functions, head of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house) Pyotr Tolstoy told Izvestia.
"As long as everything is arranged in the Council of Europe the way it is now, risks to the full-fledged work of any delegation, which at some point can be turned into a whipping boy, remain high. No one is safe from that as long as the selective approach and double standards in assessing certain events exist," he said.
Commenting on France’s initiative on the possibility of expelling a country from the Council of Europe, if it has political prisoners or if its legislation contradicts the Council of Europe’s Charter, Tolstoy noted that so far it was unclear which principles were meant and what made up the non-compliance criteria. "The most important thing, however, is the haste, in which it is being developed. After all, this is not a mere formality. If approved, that mechanism can turn into a tool for punishing ‘out of favor’ countries. That’s why we believe that it should be discussed extensively and be fully in keeping with the spirit of the Council of Europe," he stressed, adding that Russia will come up with its amendments to the initiative by late October.
Speaking about the results of the Russian delegation’s work at the PACE autumn session, Tolstoy spotlighted the fact that Russian legislators fully took part in it for the first time after their return to the organization.
"On the other hand, the summer session was more like a battlefield where the top and most pressing issue on the agenda was the return of the Russian delegation. This stage has become a thing of the past now, and we have returned to full-fledged operations. Time will tell whether that was the right decision," he concluded.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Lavrov visits Iraq gripped by nationwide protests
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is kicking off his visit to Iraq on October 7 to discuss key aspects on the Middle East agenda. He is expected to meet with the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad and the heads of the Kurdish autonomous region in Erbil. However, the top diplomat’s trip will take place amid mass protests against the deteriorating economic situation in the country, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Despite the growing security problems in Iraq, Lavrov’s visit seems to be timely. Judging by the slogans of the protests that erupted on October 1, the demonstrators are demanding that the country abandon its former foreign policy vector.
It is noteworthy that the protesters made Iraq’s relations with the Iranian authorities their target. They are dissatisfied with the degree of dependence of some local politicians on the military and political elite in Tehran.
However, dissatisfaction with Iran’s influence is only part of the problem. The issue at hand is unemployment and the fact that the government cannot provide social services to the population, Ruslan Mamedov, Program Coordinator of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), explained to Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Young people who took to the streets are protesting not against Iran as such, but against their country’s political figures. Of course, most of them have ties to Iran," he noted.
The expert noted, however, that Tehran would retain its positions in the region whatever the outcome. "Iran has been very serious about what is going on in Iraq and is working on any contacts, not only as far as cooperation with the political establishment goes, but also in its interaction with the population. In this regard, it is impossible to ignore the Iranian factor in Iraq. However, the current political situation creates no severe problems, because Iran will be able to maintain its influence. I admit that its scale will diminish as a result of the protests, but this is not a fact," he emphasized.
Kommersant: Zelensky’s adversaries seek to rewrite Steinmeier formula
Demonstrations have erupted in some cities around Ukraine against the "Steinmeier formula," inked by Kiev which, the current Ukrainian administration hopes, will be instrumental in ending the conflict in Donbass, Kommersant writes. The largest protest, which drew about 10,000 people, took place in downtown Kiev. Its participants, including ex-President Pyotr Poroshenko, warned incumbent Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky that they were ready to derail any accords that, in their view, could harm the country’s sovereignty. They also vowed to stop the plan of withdrawing troops from the line of disengagement in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions from going through.
Just like during the revolution of five years ago, the demonstration of party symbols was prohibited during this latest rally. Organizers emphasized that the protests should be non-partisan and unite people across the political spectrum. The ban was violated only by members of the far-right Svoboda (Freedom) nationalist party who distributed leaflets demanding that the president abandon the "Steinmeier formula," impose an economic blockade on the territories outside of Kiev’s control, and martial law in the areas adjacent to the conflict zone along with the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia.
Kiev officials have so far not commented on Sunday’s protests. However, a source close to the Ukrainian president’s office said in an informal conversation with Kommersant that political figures who had lost the election and were seeking revenge were behind them.
According to the source, organizers of the Movement to Resist the Occupation founded in early October, which organized the rallies, were deliberately twisting the facts, trying to paint any attempts to resolve the crisis by diplomatic means as a ‘surrender’ in order to discredit any actions by the authorities.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Erdogan beefs up forces in Syria with eye on Kurds
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is determined to bolster his country’s influence in Syria. His latest statement regarding the beginning of an operation to create a safe zone in northern Syria is accompanied by intense hostilities from pro-Turkish units in Idlib that set both military and political objectives for themselves, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Washington and the Kurds fear that Ankara will occupy the border territory in northern Syria without the Americans’ consent. According to media reports, the Turkish army could begin a military operation in Syria within 48 hours.
At the same time, Arab media reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which consist mostly of Kurdish units, are amassing military equipment and troops near the Turkish border. The Americans are providing practical assistance to the SDF in the areas of its operation. In particular, a convoy of US armored vehicles was spotted south of the city of Tell Abyad. Apparently, the Americans and Kurds hope that the Turks will not venture to attack the Kurdish forces, if there are American soldiers backing them.
This is the right tactics, military expert, Colonel Shamil Gareyev, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Russian military observers in Afrin acted in a similar way. As long as Russians were present in that area, Turkey did not begin its occupation. Only after Russia’s flag stop flying in Afrin, did the pro-Turkish units and regular Turkish troops capture it," he pointed out.
The expert was certain that the forces of the so-called Syrian National Army, which was formed recently with Ankara’s participation, could be involved in potential hostilities against the Kurds. Media reports say this army is comprised of the pro-Turkish National Liberation Front along with militants from the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA, which has up to 80,000 troops, is subordinate to the so-called Syrian Interim Government, which is located in Turkey.
Vedomosti: Russia plans to occupy one-fourth of global coal market
Coal production in Russia will grow by 9.3%-20.7% to reach 530 mln tonnes by 2024 compared to the 2018 level and by another 14.6%-26% to reach 550-668 mln tonnes by 2035, Vedomosti writes citing Russia’s Draft Energy Strategy until 2035. Domestic consumption will reach 196 mln tonnes by 2035, while the share of Russian coal in export markets is expected to grow to 25%.
According to the draft strategy, Asia-Pacific countries, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa will transform into major coal consumers. However, with the passing of the peak of demand in developing countries as well as China’s and India’s decision to reduce the share of coal in the energy balance create high uncertainty, it stressed.
The share of coal in generation in the Western market will be almost equal to zero within 40 years, while in Asia-Pacific countries coal will continue to play a substantial role in the overall energy balance, the paper quotes Alexander Gubarev, an Audit Director in the International Referrals Group at Deloitte CIS, as saying.
In the next 10 years, global demand for thermal coal will grow at a rate not exceeding 1% per year, growth will be observed mainly in Asia, VTB Capital analyst Dmitry Glushakov forecasts. In order to increase exports, Russia needs to oust other players from the market, which is only possible with low production costs, the expert explained.
"Russia has the lowest costs during the mining stage despite the high quality of its coal. However, due to the high rail transportation expenses, its cost is almost identical to its main competitors in Australia, Indonesia and South Africa," he said.