- Press review: Murder charges against Russian governor and Iran as a future Chinese colony
- US Department of State invites Russia for new round of Strategic Security Dialogue
- Press review: Will the second wave hit Russia and what led to space agency aide’s arrest
- Press review: Russia’s latest treason case and South China Sea showdown on the horizon
Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, March 27, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: G20 members attempt to unite to fight coronavirus
For the first time in history, the G20 held a virtual summit dedicated to the coronavirus’ implications. The leaders of the largest global economies - some from the office, and some from home - proposed their own measures to combat the disease. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is necessary to create "green corridors, free from trade wars and sanctions, for the mutual supply of medicine, food, equipment and technology". The G20 participants say they are ready to act together to stop the spread of coronavirus and overcome the consequences of the current global economic situation. However, the cessation of economic wars, apparently, is out of the question, Izvestia wrote.
Putin noted that "the current crisis will inevitably leave its mark on global development, and for a long time."
Therefore, it is necessary to act together, and not on the principle of ‘everyone for himself’, he added. The Russian leader agreed that a regular exchange of reliable information on the development of the pandemic is necessary among countries. Meanwhile, the most important thing now... is "to ensure access to financing for countries that are experiencing resource requirements." In addition, he urged the summit to abandon economic restrictions that hinder effectively fighting COVID-19.
Given the current situation, only close cooperation on the world stage can stop the pandemic, First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told Izvestia. "What sanctions can they talk about now, especially when it comes to medicine or protective equipment? We need to help each other and unite in creating a vaccine and developing joint measures. Unfortunately, for example, the United States continues its sanctions policy against Iran, where many people have died from the virus," the senator said.
The summit’s participants adopted a joint statement. The group’s ministers of health will hold meetings as necessary to exchange experience, and a set of urgent actions by the G20 against the pandemic is expected to be set up during the ministerial meeting in April. The leaders also promised to use every opportunity to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global economic growth and maintain market stability.
Holding the summit under the current conditions was absolutely correct, Bundestag legislator Waldemar Herdt told Izvestia. According to him, the strategic line developed by the conference’s participants can help overcome this turbulent period. The parliamentarian also hoped that common sense would prevail and after the current crisis a "new world order with a human face" would be established, where human rights and sovereignty of each state will be respected.
Kommersant: Russia’s government seeks right to enact nationwide state of emergency
The Russian government drafted a bill to give it the right to introduce a national emergency throughout the country, including during epidemics. At the moment, the regime can be introduced by a decision of a special government commission at the federal level or locally in regions. Only the president can introduce a state of emergency. Meanwhile, some experts told Kommersant they believe that a national emergency is already being introduced gradually.
The bill would amend Russia’s law on protection from emergencies, adding a new basis for introducing emergency: "the spread of a disease that endangers the community." The government then would then have the right to coordinate a unified state system to prevent and respond to emergencies.
A source in law enforcement agencies told Kommersant that assigning responsibility for the introduction of an emergency mode directly to the government "increases the level of responsibility for decisions and increases the efficiency of resolving issues." Anatoly Vyborny, a member of the State Duma’s Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, told the newspaper, "There is a complete reformatting of the events within the framework of the emergency. We are facing a pandemic. In such a situation, the government should establish rules for the game".
Earlier on March 25, President Vladimir Putin turned to the nation and announced a "long week off work" from March 28 to April 5. According to Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, there is no coronavirus epidemic in Russia and there is no need to introduce a state of emergency. Meanwhile, Director of the Center for Political Studies at the Financial University Pavel Salin told the newspaper he believes that the state of emergency is actually being introduced "in a step-by-step mode" so as not to create any panic, but "by April 15-20 we will have a full-fledged emergency mode."
In his opinion, a nationwide emergency regime will inevitably give security, defence and law enforcement agencies a wider range of powers.
Izvestia: Russia calls on Kabul and Taliban to give peace a chance
Moscow urged Afghan officials and the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation) to sit down at the negotiating table, revive the ceasefire and exchange prisoners, Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Izvestia. However, he noted that Russia has no plans to organize a new inter-Afghan meeting. The participants must agree on their own, without the help of third countries.
"At the moment, we don’t have any plans to resume the inter-Afghan dialogue, since we advocate the start of negotiations, not dialogue. Dialogue is a conversation between people without a decision, but negotiations are already a political process that leads to a decision that we call national reconciliation," Kabulov explained to Izvestia.
Moscow should not conduct negotiations, they should be initiated by the Taliban in Afghanistan and representatives of Kabul themselves, Kabulov specified.
"We support the start of negotiations as soon as possible between the Taliban movement and representatives of the Afghan delegation, which may include members from the current administration, the legitimacy of which, by the way, is recognized not only by the Taliban, but also by the opposition," Kabulov added.
Meanwhile, experts interviewed by the newspaper, admitted that the agreement between the United States and the Taliban on the exchange of prisoners is a fiasco largely because Kabul’s emissaries were not invited to the negotiations.
Russia has great potential to resume inter-Afghan negotiations, since almost all the players in the conflict gathered in Moscow last February, Director of the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies Omar Nessar told Izvestia. The expert noted that what the Americans proudly call the launch of the negotiation process between various groups in Afghanistan is actually the continuation of Moscow’s initiative, since the first round of the meeting took place in Moscow.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Coronavirus quarantine might bolster some market segments
Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has created problems for business. When the dollar hit 80 rubles, over 60% of manufacturing industries with a high share of imports may become unprofitable, experts at the HSE Development Center wrote in a study. On the other hand, experts interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted that some entrepreneurs might see a window of opportunity even in these tough times.
"Fluctuations in the exchange rate directly affect current costs for purchases of imported raw materials, components and semi-finished products, calculated in rubles," the HSE study said. According to the report, in addition to manufacturing industries, heavily dependant on imports, production of such consumer goods as sausages, tea, coffee, textiles, electrical equipment, household appliances, and motor vehicles is also at risk. In total, about 90 industries could face serious economic consequences from the crisis, the study reported.
Meanwhile, in certain niches, the present situation may become an incentive for further development. Experts Interviewed by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, named the types of businesses that may profit off the current uncertain times. "Obviously, this would be businesses focused on serving people who are forced to restrict communication and contact. For example, taxi services and food delivery. These are also various options for a business selling Internet services," Alexander Osin, an analyst with Freedom Finance, told the newspaper.
On Wednesday, the Association of Internet Trade Companies said that according to its forecast, in 2020, the market for online delivery of products from shops and restaurants might double, reaching 248 bln rubles ($3.2 bln).
The current quarantine regime as a way of life increases demand for online entertainment and educational content, hobby goods, delivery and communication services, the newspaper wrote. "Now food retail and pharmaceuticals will have local support. People around the world stock up on food and medicine in case a quarantine is introduced, and even in places where it is introduced, people are allowed to go to grocery stores and pharmacies," Director of the BCS Broker sales office Vyacheslav Abramov told the newspaper.
Vedomosti: Global luxury goods market poised to set record low
The global luxury goods market - clothes, shoes, watches and accessories - this year may fall by 20-25% to 226 bln euro, experts at Bain&Co consulting forecasted. Last year, it increased by 7% to 281 bln euro, and according to Bain & CO’s prediction, by 2025 it was supposed to reach 320-365 bln euro. This is a first in the history of research. Since 1996, the average annual market growth had been 6%. Experts told Vedomosti, that the Russian luxury segment will face the same fate, and that the Bain&Co forecast might be even mild.
The main causes of the fall are the economic crisis, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the quarantine associated with it in a number of key countries, Bain&Co wrote. The Chinese market, the main consumer of luxury goods with a share of more than 50%, was the first to take the blow from the coronavirus, and it will take a long time to return to its normal state, while the situation in Europe and the United States is worsening.
Though Bain&Co’s current forecasts are calming, in reality the situation will be much worse, Alexander Shumsky, President of the National Fashion Chamber told the newspaper. According to him, the drop may be at least 40%.
Russia is not much different from the rest of the world, according to Bain&Co expert on the retail and luxury goods market Irina Kulikova. However, declining oil prices only worsened the Russian consumer market. The ruble fell in price against major currencies and the salaries of the population remained the same, she added.
Luxury retailers were hit hard by the cessation of international tourism, sales fell by more than 50%, CEO of Infoline Analytics Mikhail Burmistro told Vedomosti. In his opinion, GUM may lose up to 5 mln rubles ($64,641) in revenue per day due to the lack of sales along with closed grocery stores and catering establishments, the Central Department Store faces losses of up to 30 mln rubles ($387,668) per day.