- Press review: Putin’s surprise offer for New START and Washington’s pipeline clampdown
- Press review: Yerevan, Baku need to make concessions and Lukashenko to split opposition
- Press review: US nixes Putin’s New START offer and why Iran is waiting for US elections
- Press review: EU targets Kremlin officials in new blacklist and Kyrgyz president resigns
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday, September 23, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Putin offers cooperation and COVID-19 vaccine to the world
Russia is ready to provide UN staff with a free vaccine against COVID-19, President Vladimir Putin said at the 75th session of the General Assembly. He also offered to hold a virtual conference in the near future with the participation of states interested in cooperating to create drugs to fight coronavirus. In addition, in his speech, Putin touched upon the problems of the militarization of outer space and the extension of the New START. Experts told Izvestia that Putin's speech at the UN General Assembly was different from others, since the Russian leader did not look for those responsible for the coronavirus crisis and other world problems, but offered unity to counter threats.
The Russian head of state also reiterated the need to introduce the so-called green corridors, free from trade wars and sanctions. According to him, unchaining world trade from barriers, prohibitions, restrictions, and illegitimate sanctions could help restore global growth and reduce unemployment. At the same time, Russia intends to closely cooperate with other states and international structures in the fight against Covid-19, Putin noted.
Putin added that Russia also proposed striking a legally binding agreement that would ban weapons in space, as well as the use of force or the threat of force against space objects. According to President of the American University in Moscow Edward Lozansky, the New START will still be extended. However, Russia and the United States need broad negotiations on many other issues, not just on weapons. After all, many experts believe that now the world is slowly sleepwalking into a nuclear catastrophe, the political scientist emphasized.
"If you compare Vladimir Putin’s speech to Donald Trump’s speech or say some other leaders, it’s like night and day. Trump threatens, promises to punish, and looks for those responsible. We are trying to extend a hand of friendship and offer cooperation instead of confrontation." First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov told Izvestia. According to the senator, setting up such green corridors would play a key role during the coronavirus era, since sanctions often prevent individual states from effectively fighting this new invisible enemy.
Izvestia: Washington aims to undermine Venezuelan elections
Negotiations between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Latin American national leaders on battling the regime of Nicolas Maduro, as well as personal sanctions against the Venezuelan leader represent yet another attempt to interfere in Venezuela's internal affairs before its elections, foreign experts told Izvestia. However, according to analysts, Washington will not be able to remove Maduro easily, because people do not trust the fragile Venezuelan opposition. At the same time, the idea of a "military coup" put forward by the United States and Maduro’s domestic opponents, if implemented, would result in devastating consequences for the entire region.
Spanish international analyst Jose Antonio Egido told Izvestia he believes that Trump and Pompeo do not want the legislative elections in Venezuela to take place, because they understand that their plan to install Guaido has failed. So now they are cooking up new schemes to meddle in Venezuela's affairs from outside the country, he added.
Pompeo's trip puts pressure on the situation in Venezuela, Ronal Rodriguez, a professor and researcher at the Venezuelan Observatory, a think-tank at the University of Rosario in Colombia, told Izvestia. According to the expert, such sentiments were observed last year, but in the face of COVID-19, a military coup is unlikely to solve the problem. Many Latin American countries, including Peru and Brazil, are opposed to US intervention, since it would plunge the entire region into chaos, Rodriguez noted. In his opinion, as long as the opposition supports international sanctions, the population will hold on to Nicolas Maduro.
Izvestia: Lukashenko drops multi-vector foreign policy in favor of Russia
The European Union is still clinging to the idea of sanctions against individual officials and organizations in Belarus, as well as pushing the authorities into dialogue with the public. Political commentators in Minsk told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, they are skeptical about the success of such steps. They are convinced that Alexander Lukashenko will never accept a single idea that would threaten him with the loss of power, even if it comes from Russia.
Experts in Minsk believe that the Belarusian president has already dropped the idea of the western vector of foreign policy. "Belarus’ foreign policy now consists of only relations with Russia," political scientist Valery Karbalevich told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. "Belarus’ ‘foreign policy is now subordinate only to the mission of keeping Lukashenko's power. For this, they are ready to nullify many years of work that has been done in order to establish Belarus as a kind of peacekeeping center, a donor of regional security, and so on," Karbalevich added.
For Lukashenko, severing relations with the West is not something that would shake his confidence, analysts believe.
At the same time, conflicts between Lukashenko and Moscow cannot be ruled out if Russia insists on removing the incumbent Belarusian leader from power. "There has been a contradiction between the Kremlin’s demand for constitutional reform and somehow smoothly leaving power, and the fact that Lukashenko doesn’t want to give up power," political observer Alexander Klaskovsky told the newspaper. "It is likely that Lukashenko made some promises to Putin in Sochi, but when he arrived in Minsk, he announced that the next elections would be held according to the Constitution, that is, in five years," the expert recalled. He also did not rule out that Lukashenko could increase the presidential term, and then new elections would take place in nine years. However, Klaskovsky believes that this gamble would not suit Moscow.
Kommersant: Russia’s IT giant Yandex buys out major banking group
Yandex tentatively agreed to purchase the TCS Group - the head structure of Tinkoff Bank - for about $5.48 bln (around 417 bln rubles). Investors from both companies reacted positively to the news, and experts believe that the deal could create a powerful ecosystem, an alternative to the project of Yandex's former partner in the digital services market - Sberbank with the Mail.ru Group. According to Kommersant, the risks lie in the integration of new assets, which might require retaining the bank's management team.
Until recently, Yandex had been cultivating a joint business with Sberbank. However, in June, the parties officially announced the division of assets. At the same time, Sberbank is actively developing its service system with Yandex’s competitors - Rambler Group and Mail.ru Group.
After the nixed Sberbank deal, the purchase of TCS looks like a logical step, Managing Director of the NKR Rating Agency Stanislav Volkov told Kommersant. "The deal is within the global trend of creating ecosystems that can offer clients a huge range of services in a wide variety of areas. At the same time, the issue of the quality of integration comes to the fore," he said.
The deal will combine all sorts of user data and offer the most relevant services, Maria Sukhanova, an analyst at BCS Global Markets, told the newspaper. From the point of view of Tinkoff Bank's business, the change of ownership may enable a further increase in the client base, including through potential partnership projects with Yandex, claims Maria Malyukova, Moody's junior vice president.
At the same time, a surge in Tinkoff Bank’s client base after the deal with Yandex should not be expected, since the credit institution already has a developed mechanism for attracting retail customers and a brand recognizable in all regions, Expert RA analyst Yuri Belikov told Kommersant.
Kommersant: Price tag on digital services in Russia may rise after pandemic
Russian telecom operators can earn more from communication and digital services, according to a study by the Kearney consulting company. Currently, Russians pay half as much as even East European consumers for such services. The price of entertainment content in Russia may rise from the current 6 euro, to almost 9 euro per month, Kommersant wrote. After the pandemic, Russians' spending on communications and online services as a whole may grow by 31%.
The music streaming market in Russia is less developed than in Europe, and the potential for its growth in price is estimated at 13%. Audiobook services, news subscriptions, and eSports have similar potential, and spending of Russians on online education could grow by 20%, analysts believe. The comparatively low level of prices for communication in Russia has been confirmed by other studies. According to Content Review, Russia ranked sixth among countries with the cheapest mobile Internet, ahead of Egypt and Turkey.
Communication in Russia has been cheaper than in Eastern Europe for ten years, and the domestic market is in no hurry to narrow this gap, telecom operator Tele2 told the newspaper. "However, it is too early to write off traditional communication services. The pandemic has sparked an increase in demand for voice communications, which users used to compensate for the lack of live communication," Tele2 said.
Prices for traditional communication services has been stagnating for five years, and operators are looking for new business areas - from mobile TV to eSports - Associate Director at KPMG Denis Chernookiy told Kommersant. He does not expect an increase in prices for communication services amid the crisis, noting that prices for new services are already set with a margin.