Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, January 12, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Democrats turn up the heat to take revenge on Trump
On January 13, the US House of Representatives plans to consider Donald Trump’s impeachment. The text of the resolution has already been published, where the incumbent president is being charged with "incitement of insurrection." The Democrats are ready to abandon this procedure if Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th amendment of the US Constitution to remove the commander-in-chief. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, the Democratic Party is virtually blackmailing its opponents, and they need impeachment in order to eliminate the slightest possibility of Donald Trump running for office in 2024.
Yuri Rogulev, director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at the Moscow State University (MSU), says the situation is not about any concerns for democracy, but about political calculation.
"Not only will the Senate not have time to vote, but also impeachment supporters will not garner the [needed] two-thirds majority (67 votes - Izvestia). Therefore, the Democrats need impeachment to separate Trump from politics and prevent him from running in 2024. And now, as we can see, they are engaged in blackmail, calling on Pence to use the 25th amendment," the expert told Izvestia.
Meanwhile, American society is highly polarized and the Democrats clearly want to take advantage of the situation in order to deal another blow to their opponents. According to Kirill Koktysh, associate professor of the Department of Political Theory of Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Democrats, who generally tend to be vindictive, want to take revenge on Trump and his supporters. Given the many questions raised by the vote itself and about the election’s integrity, the Democrats need this impeachment crusade to put the right end to this story.
"This is the desire to close the marked deck by placing a decent card on top," the political scientist told Izvestia.
Meanwhile, Silicon Valley’s campaign to silence Trump by permanently suspending his Facebook and Twitter accounts among others continues to unfold. According to Koktysh, the fact that a private company "can block the current president of a great country is a disaster."
"It is clear that, from the point of view of the Democrats, his exclusion is justified. But in reality, it turns out that a private company is trying to determine what is true and what is false based on preconceived interests and assessments. This is replacing authorized public judgment for an illegitimate private one," he told the newspaper.
Izvestia: New agreements on Karabakh might not prevent renewed hostilities
A new working group led by the vice-premiers of Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia will meet by the end of the month and will form a list of key areas for work on Nagorno-Karabakh, including plans for the development of transport infrastructure and the region's economy. This was noted in the statement on the development of the situation, signed in Moscow on January 11. Following the recent negotiations in the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin positively assessed the resolution of the conflict, since it was possible to prevent any further escalation.
Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that the threat of resumed hostilities has not completely vanished, since radical elements on both sides and the position of Turkey can play a destructive role, and among those holding this view is political analyst Azhdar Kurtov.
He noted that first and foremost, the political situation in Armenia is very unstable, it does not offer any reason to believe that the agreements would be unconditionally implemented. In addition, the situation in the region may worsen once the question of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is raised, he added. Now this topic remains on the back burner due to the urgent need to resolve more important issues.
"If the problem cannot be sorted out through diplomacy, then a resumption of hostilities is possible," Kurtov noted.
Another thing to keep in mind is the role of Turkey, which is interested in boosting its own influence in the region. "Ankara has already pushed Azerbaijan to more decisively aggressive actions against Armenia. In the future, this is not just possible, but it should be expected," the expert summed up.
The current truce in Karabakh is very fragile and any careless moves can destroy it, Director of the Institute for Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov noted. The fact that many residents of Armenia still perceive the trilateral agreement of November 9 as a defeat is a problem, he believes.
"It is necessary to present specific positions with a strategic vision in an accessible form so that radical elements do not come to power in Armenia and the conflict does not arise with renewed vigor," Denisov added.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Beijing will not let Biden cobble together anti-Chinese coalition
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with the political leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, and then will travel to Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The trip was undertaken to remind the partners that, in spite of the pandemic, the New Silk Road project remains in effect, in addition to pursuing the expansion of Beijing's influence in Asia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. This objective is becoming ever more urgent, since US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to engage not only Western, but also developing countries in a web of states opposing China’s power.
Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) Alexander Lomanov told the newspaper, "Now Asia is becoming more and more politically and economically vital for China. It is worth recalling that last year China became a member of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a huge free trade zone. For trade to develop well, you need to have a stable political situation in the region. On the other hand, the more extensive the trade, the more interest regional partners will have in interacting with China, the less they will be willing to use the US to hedge risks and create some kind of counterbalance to China." "It is clear that not a single country in the region will be able to develop without trade with China, but to what extent Beijing will be able to establish political trust with them - this is the problem that Wang Yi is trying to solve," the expert added.
At the same time, the commentator believes that Biden might have a hard time balancing his domestic agenda and relations with China. "As [Trump] leaves, he is undertaking great efforts to make it as difficult for Biden as possible to reach an agreement with China. Biden will find himself in a difficult situation. If he reverses Trump's decisions, he will look weak. Then the Republicans will argue that Biden is acting in the interests of Beijing. So, it will be difficult for Biden to quickly restore good relations with China," he concluded.
Kommersant: What Kyrgyzstan expects from its newly-elected president
Sadyr Japarov, who was recently elected president of Kyrgyzstan, was able to take power riding on a wave of popularity just as swiftly as Nikol Pashinyan and Vladimir Zelensky did in Armenia and Ukraine several years ago, Kommersant writes. Likewise, the country expects reforms from Japarov, and if that doesn’t pan out, he is predicted to face the same trend of plunging ratings as the once popular Armenian and Ukrainian leaders, the newspaper believes.
Cultivating the economy, reforming the courts, and right-sizing the nation’s ministries are among the president-elect’s promises. He also plans to guarantee citizens’ social protection, introduce a moratorium on business inspections, protect investors, use internal reserves for development, create new industries, and enter new markets. There are no details on economic development yet. A source close to the team of the elected president told Kommersant that the economic part of his program is not yet ready.
Meanwhile, Japarov pledged to focus on fighting corruption. However, these populist actions are not approved by everyone. "His economic amnesty raises many questions," Kloop Editor-in-Chief Anna Kapushenko told Kommersant. She also noted that the new government might turn up the heat on the media, since the president-elect has already managed to strictly warn journalists not to distort his words.
Political analyst Taalatbek Masadykov believes that the new president is definitely not worse than his predecessor, who for three years "just sat there, did nothing and did not want to touch anything." The expert suggests that everyone wait and see what Japarov is capable of in practice.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Russia hopes to revive small businesses with preferential loans
The government announced reducing the rate on soft loans for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as for the self-employed. The rate on concessional loans for certain business sectors will drop to 7% per annum, according to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Entrepreneurs met the initiative with controversy, viewing the decision as being too late, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Concessional lending may be ineffective without other concessions.
According to the government, the measure would allow entrepreneurs to reduce their debt burden and replenish working capital. In addition, it would provide more opportunities for business development and investment in new projects. The Ministry of Economic Development hopes that concessional loans will go both to supporting current activities and to developing business.
Cutting the cost of loans for businesses and the self-employed will significantly improve their situation, First Vice President of Opora Russia Pavel Sigal told the newspaper. "After all, it is the relatively high rates on borrowed funds that entrepreneurs have often called a problem for further development," he added.
The government’s decision looks a bit belated, member of the general council of Delovaya Rossiya Alim Bishenov said. "The business community pointed to the need to reduce barriers and the level of lending rates in the fourth quarter of last year," he said. In his opinion, in order to increase the demand for such loans, it is necessary to simultaneously remove excessive barriers to obtaining a loan itself. Bishenov recalls that a mandatory level for annual revenue is needed in order to obtain a preferential loan, which has become more difficult to overcome due to the pandemic.