Press review: Russia's plans for coronavirus vaccine and why Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus / News / News agency Inforos
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Press review: Russia's plans for coronavirus vaccine and why Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus

Press review: Russia's plans for coronavirus vaccine and why Tikhanovskaya fled Belarus

Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, August 12, prepared by TASS

Vedomosti: Russia targets quarter of global COVID-19 vaccine market

Russia received temporary registration for the coronavirus vaccine - Gam-COVID-Vac developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, which will enter the market under the Sputnik V trademark. Representatives of the risk group (doctors, teachers, the elderly) will have access to vaccination first, and everyone else - starting from October. According to Vedomosti, Gam-COVID-Vac production is slated to reach 10 mln doses per month by December this year. Meanwhile, some experts do not trust the Russian-developed vaccine.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which partially funded the vaccine’s development, estimates the global demand for vaccines will be 3-5 bln doses by the end of 2021. "The average price of vaccines on the market will be about $25. Thus, the market size will reach around $75 bln," Head of the Fund Kirill Dmitriev said. The price of the Russian vaccine has not yet been disclosed. However, a source familiar with the situation told Vedomosti, that a single dose will cost no more than $20. The paper writes that the potential share of the Russian vaccine on the global market is estimated at $20 bln.

The first and second phases of vaccine trials in Russia were combined, this is a normal practice, the newspaper writes. However, according to official figures, only 76 people were tested - specifically selected military personnel. Meanwhile, the Gamaleya Research Institute has not yet presented detailed publications on the test results, unlike other vaccine developers - AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Cansino.

According to Vedomosti, experts are disconcerted by the fact that mass vaccination of the population will begin before the end of the third trial phase. They argue that the vaccine’s effectiveness must be proven by long-term observations and extensive field studies. As of now, the first people vaccinated with Sputnik V will simultaneously become participants in the third stage of the trial.

"It is necessary to conduct three phases of preclinical and clinical studies, checking the safety and efficacy of the drug on thousands of patients, because even a fraction of the percentage of side effects during mass vaccination can cause colossal harm to health," professor Igor Gundarov told Vedomosti. "Post-clinical observations are also important, when after months or even years the patient's condition is still monitored, because side effects may not appear immediately," he added.

Media: Why opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left Belarus

Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya left the country for Lithuania on Tuesday. Meanwhile, mass protests in the cities of Belarus are not letting down, as many enterprises in the country received information about possible strikes.

According to Kommersant, the Belarusian opposition is de facto starting to create a government in exile, and could also seek a repetition of the Venezuelan scenario at home - that is, recognizing Svetlana Tikhanovskaya by the world community as the legitimate president of Belarus. Belarusian politician Valery Tsepkalo, who had previously unsuccessfully tried to register in the elections as a candidate, told Kommersant that Tikhanovskaya could even lead the process from Lithuania.

Andrey Skriba from the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics told Vedomosti that Tikhanovskaya's departure does not mean that protests in Belarus have been "beheaded". "Many of those who follow the developments, noted that Tikhanovskaya is not so much a leader as a symbol of protest. She symbolizes freedom, new trends for all protesters, so nothing has changed for them," the expert said. Skriba noted that possible strikes at Belarusian factories can deal a serious blow to Lukashenko's socio-economic model, which was positioned as socially oriented, caring for the working population even in difficult times. "Now the very fact that people start to protest and go out makes the average man think: if everything is so good, why do they protest?" the expert said.

Izvestia: Nord Stream 2 future uncertain despite top diplomats pledging support

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas flew to Russia as he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have many issues to discuss - cyberattacks on the German Bundestag in 2015, the investigation of the 2019 murder of a Georgian citizen, and disruption of trade from the pandemic. However, the two delegations had more in common than problematic issues. According to Izvestia, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was one of the few topics where the countries have very similar positions.

According to Maas, US sanctions are "the wrong path", and in the end, deals with energy resources are Germany’s sovereign decision. The Bundestag also insists on a tough response to Washington's threats. Head of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Energy Klaus Ernst told Izvestia that sanctions have already led to delays in construction - Swiss pipelayer Allseas succumbed to the US pressure, withdrawing from the project at the end of 2019.

Lavrov, in turn, expressed confidence that the pipeline will be commissioned. "As I understand it, there is reason to believe that this [the project’s completion] will be done in the very near future," he said.

However, the meeting of the diplomats was accompanied by news that made it clear that not everything is going well with the project, the newspaper writes. In particular, the report of one of the project's investors - German company Uniper - said that as US sanctions intensify, the likelihood of a delay or even termination of the pipeline's construction increases.

German political scientist Alexander Rahr told Izvestia that right now the future of the energy alliance between Russian and Germany is a matter of principle, however, conflicts that are often inflated by the press hinder an agreement on cooperation.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Ankara torn between Washington and Moscow amid S-400 issue

Turkish authorities are in dire need of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in Libya or Syria, but they do not want to jeopardize their relations with Russia, former deputy of the Turkish parliament and Senior Director of the Turkey Program at Foundation For Defense of Democracies Aykan Erdemir told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. According to him, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had earlier ordered to temporarily suspend the activation of Russian systems due to coronavirus, is extremely limited in his choice of options.

The Turkish leader is stuck between Moscow and Washington, Erdemir said. According to him, on one hand, wanting to avoid US sanctions under CAATSA, Erdogan has postponed the activation of the S-400. On the other - needing the S-400 in Syria and Libya, Erdogan is afraid to turn Putin against him. According to the expert, this dilemma proves once again that Erdogan's decision to purchase the systems was a rash move, taken without proper risk assessment, taking into account Turkey’s specific needs.

Moscow might win in this situation either way, the expert said, because regardless of whether Erdogan activates the S-400 or not, the situation will continue to undermine Ankara’s relations with NATO allies, creating divisions in the transatlantic alliance. Erdemir added that it is hardly possible to completely replace the S-400.

Meanwhile, the United States is not backing down on its early statements about possible sanctions under CAATSA against Turkey for the acquisition of the S-400. The US and Turkey continue to bargain - in the face of a severe economic downturn, Washington's disposition remains fundamentally important for Erdogan, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Vedomosti: Russia plans to revise double taxation deals with Switzerland, Hong Kong

Cyprus became the first jurisdiction to revise the terms of the double taxation deal with Russia. President Vladimir Putin allowed the government to continue negotiations with other countries to raise taxes to 15% on dividends and interest from Russian companies. Switzerland and Hong Kong are the first in line - this issue was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting between the president and the government, Vedomosti writes.

"Reaching agreements with Cyprus is significant for two reasons," Director of the Center for Tax Policy at the Moscow State University Kirill Nikitin told Vedomosti. "First, Russia has demonstrated (primarily to other jurisdictions) that it does not intend to retreat from the principled positions outlined by the president. Second, a precedent was set - Russia made a sort of a compromise, allowing exceptions for bona fide structures created with the participation of Cypriot companies, which allows Russian groups to effectively raise funds. This is also important for future negotiations with other countries," the expert added.

Moreover, Cyprus and Luxembourg are similar to Switzerland and Hongkong in terms of the conditions provided to foreign companies, Director of Tax and Legal Consulting at KPMG in Russia and the CIS Alexander Tokarev told the newspaper.However, there are fundamental differences, especially when it comes to Switzerland and Hong Kong, the newspaper writes. According to experts interviewed by Vedomosti, the dividend flow from Russia is significantly lower for these jurisdictions compared to Cyprus. Because of this, revising of agreements with Switzerland will be more difficult than with Cyprus.

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