Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, October 9, prepared by TASS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: EU sets sights on punishing Kremlin for alleged poisoning of Navalny
Moscow has been given its last opportunity to punish those responsible for the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny. Otherwise, sanctions will follow from the European Union, according to the statements made by representatives of leading EU countries. Following the conclusions of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Navalny had been poisoned with a substance similar to Novichok, sanctions were announced by the several chief diplomats from European states, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. They expect clear explanations from Moscow as to the reasons for and who poisoned the Russian opposition figure.
Until recently, Berlin did not directly accuse the Kremlin of being possibly invovled in the Navalny ‘poisoning’ and only called for an active investigation. However, now German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian are calling for more sanctions against Russia in a joint communique. The authors of the document, released on Wednesday, believe that with insufficient efforts from Moscow in the investigation, it is obvious that the Kremlin itself may be involved in the poisoning of Navalny, the newspaper writes.
What exactly will come under the EU sanctions has not yet been determined. Judging by the tone of the French-German statement, the Europeans are still hoping for a compromise with Moscow. However, so far Russia's reaction is tough and unambiguous, the newspaper writes. It leaves no doubt that Moscow will not comply with the EU’s conditions. In a commentary posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry, its spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted that Germany and France, instead of cooperating, shifted to threats and blackmail attempts.
All leading EU countries are in favor of sanctions, if there are opponents, they are silent, the newspaper writes. "This is already a defined line in relation to the country. It has formed, then in this case it cannot be changed," chief researcher at the RAS’ Institute of Europe, Vladimir Schweitzer, told the newspaper.
The "Russian question" will be discussed at a mid-October EU summit. Perhaps, these sanctions will be a new milestone in Russian-EU ties, since Moscow will be punished for the first time for what happened to its citizen on Russian soil.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Moscow pursues peacemaker role in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
The Ministry of Defense of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic denied reports from some Yerevan-based media outlets on October 8 about a ceasefire agreement in the zone of the Karabakh conflict. All day the parties to the conflict continued their armed aggression against each other, even striking civilian targets. Meanwhile, Russia is seeking to mediate the conflict. The Kremlin is in talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan to organize a meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers in Moscow, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Information about the cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh appeared simultaneously in several media outlets, citing an anonymous source close to the Armenian government. Experts suggest carefully examining how the information about the upcoming truce appeared in the media. According to independent journalist David Petrosyan, a subversive plot was thwarted in Karabakh just a few days ago. Some people were trying to convince Armenian soldiers at the frontline that the fighting was futile. "At the moment, various versions are being considered, including a political hit job," Petrosyan told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Nagorno-Karabakh is dominating the global agenda for various reasons, the newspaper writes. Thus, on Thursday at a meeting of the Coordination Council of Prosecutors' General of CIS Members, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Krasnov emphasized that terrorist fighters should not be allowed to enter the conflict. "The primary goal is to protect people and ensure their right to a dignified, safe, and peaceful life, including suppressing any attempts by mercenaries and terrorists, and those who profit from illegal arms trafficking and who finance terrorist acts to enter the territory of conflict," Krasnov said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia is in talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan to organize a meeting between the Armenian and Azeri top diplomats in Moscow. "We have suggested Moscow as a platform to organize a meeting between the heads of the foreign ministries of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan with the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs," she said, noting that Moscow continues to work on active mediation efforts aimed at an immediate cessation of the hostilities in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
Izvestia: Kyrgyz opposition rift deepening
The divide among the opposition in Kyrgyzstan continues. Two alternative coordination councils have been created in the Central Asian country, and there are already five candidates for the post of prime minister. However, looting on the streets has noticeably subsided and the situation is returning to its usual course, residents of Bishkek told Izvestia. Experts interviewed by the newspaper believe that Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov will not leave the country. He is waiting for the situation to stabilize in order to come to an agreement with the opposition.
As Kyrgyzstan enters the fourth day of protests, there are five candidates who are already running for the post of prime minister, some of them demand the president's resignation, while rallies in support of the current head of state are taking place in the south. Only the parliament can return the situation to legitimacy, but the lawmakers have been unable to collect a quorum for three days, Izvestia writes.
On October 8, the Security Council of the republic announced that it did not know about the whereabouts of the country's president Sooronbay Jeenbekov, later his press secretary said that Jeenbekov was still in the capital. Russia has not received an asylum application from the Kyrgyz president, but if it does, it is ready to consider it, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Relations with Compatriots and Eurasian Integration Leonid Kalashnikov told Izvestia. He also stressed that Moscow is warning third countries against interfering in the internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan. He stressed the political crisis there must be resolved by Kyrgyz citizens, without any outside assistance.
According to political scientist Vladimir Evseev, Jeenbekov is unlikely to leave the country in the near future. Most likely, the president will wait until the situation calms down in order to reach an agreement later. "The current protest in Bishkek is not directed against the president, the main demands were re-elections to parliament, and this demand has already been met. I think Jeenbekov will be able to reach a compromise with the leaders of the parties," the expert told Izvestia.
Meanwhile, senior researcher at the IMEMO Center for Post-Soviet Studies Stanislav Pritchin believes that Jeenbekov is no longer actually acting like the president. According to the expert, he is mostly like a number two in line, with statements like "I am waiting for proposals from the opposition," instead of trying to put things in order and take responsibility for what is happening in the country.
Vedomosti: OPEC sees no alternative to oil for next 25 years
Oil will remain the dominant source of energy in the world until 2045, maintaining its share in the global energy balance at about 30%, according to OPEC's annual World Oil Outlook 2020. Thus, in the long term, OPEC continues to adhere to conservative views on the future of the energy sector. In general, fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal - together account for 72.5% of the world's energy balance, the organization reported. However, experts interviewed by Vedomosti, argue that the cost of implementing renewable energy sources is decreasing and its share in the global energy balance will only grow.
Analyzing these forecasts, one should take into account the fact that they are presented by OPEC, an organization whose activities are related to oil, research director at Vygon Consulting Maria Belova told Vedomosti. The baseline scenarios of most of the current projections (from the IEA and the World Energy Council) assume oil will be the main source of energy until 2035, while OPEC is forecasting until 2045, she added. Belova noted that the change in the structure of the global fuel and energy balance is taking place slowly. 25 years ago, the share of oil was 39% against the current 33%, and gas - 21% against 24%.
The main problem in developing renewable sources was the cost of technologies, but it is gradually decreasing, Dmitry Stapran, director of consulting services to energy companies at PwC in Russia told the newspaper. According to him, from 2010 to 2019, the cost of building wind farms has decreased by 30-40%, and solar by about 80%. Another problem is the instability of power generation, the analyst added. According to him, it can be solved at the expense of energy storage devices, whose cost is also dropping every year. One way or another, renewable sources already occupy up to 25% of the energy balances in Germany, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and this share will grow, Stapran forecasted.
Izvestia: Russia plans to launch biometric payments in shops and cafes by late 2020
Payment in stores and cafes using face and voice biometrics is getting set for a launch. Legislation on expanding the possibilities of using biometrics, is scheduled to be adopted by the end of 2020, Head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov told Izvestia. This will enable banks to commercialize "face pay" in shops and cafes. At the moment, the pilot project was launched by VTB in major local hypermarket chains using the unified biometric system. Rostelecom, the system’s operator, announced the testing of the technology with manufacturers of vending machines. Although the system will increase the speed of service and convenience, the risks of fraud and data leaks alienate customers, according to experts interviewed by Izvestia.
"Amendments to the law, which increase the number of spheres of application of biometrics and clarify the requirements for data security, are highly likely to be adopted by the end of 2020," Aksakov told the newspaper.
According to Izvestia, the bill was approved in July 2019 in the first reading, but at the time its consideration was suspended. Today, facial images and voice recordings from the state unified biometric system can be used only for remotely opening deposits, and widening the capabilities of this system is planned immediately after the adoption of the law. Rostelecom, the system’s operator, also expects the bill to be adopted by the end of 2020, the company told the newspaper.
However, commentators interviewed by the newspaper believe that although the service will increase the speed and convenience of service, the risks of fraud and data leaks will still scare off customers. Biometric technologies carry dangers like data leakage and fraud, manager of the financial institutions group at Deloitte Natalya Tabolina told Izvestia.
Pilot projects on biometric acquiring are already being prepared by Lenta hypermarkets, the Coffee Bean coffee shop chain, X5 Retail Group, and VTB. The newspaper noted that biometric payments could reduce the time at the checkout from 20 to 5 seconds.