- Press review: Russia to reconsider Open Skies Treaty and Twitter targets Sputnik V vaccine
- Press review: House impeaches Trump for second time and Russia to launch mass vaccination
- Press review: What Moscow’s trilateral talks focused on and 2021 to shatter US illusions
- Press review: Democrats bent on revenge against Trump and can the Karabakh truce hold
Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, December 4, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: OPEC+ decision to have positive impact on oil market
The OPEC+ decision to increase oil output by 500,000 barrels per day in January 2021 will stabilize oil prices, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. However, analysts expect prices to fall to $45 per barrel in the short term.
"On the one hand, the second coronavirus wave and rising oil production in Libya create the risk of an imbalance. But on the other hand, the market faced an oil shortage of more than three mln barrels per day in October. This is why the OPEC+ decision is a tactical one," said Darya Kozlova, who heads oil and gas regulation at Vygon Consulting. The move itself won’t have a significant impact on the market and current oil prices, but it shows the group’s determination to continue promptly responding to the changing situation, the analyst added.
The decision will have a stabilizing effect on oil prices, commodity market expert Shamil Dzhazayev pointed out. "Oil prices can be expected to fall in the short term because the meeting’s results came as no surprise. However, the price drop won’t be significant, Brent crude will cost about $46-48 per barrel in late 2020 and early 2021," he noted.
"The OPEC+ decision is a compromise between two options, which included exposing the market to the risk of destabilization amid weak demand and maintaining the existing quota, thus pushing the deal’s participants to break the agreement," Director of the Investment and Banking Department at QBF Dmitry Kipa said. According to him, the compromise will encourage moderate optimism on the market.
Russia will benefit from the OPEC+ decision. On the one hand, the group will continue to control oil prices but on the other, a gradual rise in production will make it possible for Russia to secure extra oil and gas revenues, emphasized Natalya Milchakova, deputy head of the Alpari analytical center.
Moscow is considering the possibility of using the only airfield in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The airfield in Khojaly, located ten kilometers from the Karabakh capital of Stepanakert, can become an important air transport hub, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Retired military expert Colonel Vladimir Popov believes that the airfield can turn into a foothold for Russia’s peacekeeping mission in the region. At present, Russian planes arrive in Yerevan and from there goods are delivered to Nagorno-Karabakh by road. "If goods could be brought straight to Stepanakert by air, that would be the best option," Popov said.
Is it possible to view the Khojaly airfield as a military base similar to the one that Russia has in Syria? At first glance, there indeed are similarities. The Russian military has set up a makeshift hospital like the one established at Syria’s Khmeimim air base. There also is room for logistics facilities.
Moscow needs to agree on legal issues related to the setup of such a base with Baku. It seems that steps are being taken in this direction. The newspaper’s sources in the Russian Defense Ministry said that Moscow was likely to get permission to use the Khojaly airfield in the near future since the Azerbaijani authorities were interested in the effectiveness of Russia’s peacekeeping mission in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
Meanwhile, the use of the Khojaly airfield will also create some problems for Russia. According to retired military expert Lieutenant General Yuri Netkachev, the airfield needs to be upgraded because it is currently unfit for heavy military cargo planes. "The runway’s upgrading will cost at least one billion rubles ($13.4 mln). It is unclear if Russia will go for that. Armenia does not have the money to do it. However, Azerbaijan is interested in an airport near Stepanakert. I don’t rule out that Azerbaijan and maybe Turkey will invest in it," the expert said.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Legislator vows to battle US big tech 'dictatorship' on Russian soil
Russia’s State Duma will soon consider a bill making it possible to introduce restrictions against foreign social media networks and even ban them. Chairman of the Federation Council Commission on Information Policy Alexei Pushkov, one of the legislation’s sponsors, clarified its main provisions to Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
According to Pushkov, social media giants must obey Russian laws on Russian soil, refraining from replacing the country’s legislation with corporate decisions. The senator pointed out that in 2020 alone, access to Russian content on YouTube and other foreign online platforms was blocked 24 times. "About 200 such incidents took place in the past few years. It is about blatant political censorship. At the same time, the public is not widely aware of the fact that foreign networks violate Russian laws in other fields as well. For instance, they often times refuse to block access to websites banned in Russia, which promote drugs and incite suicide," Pushkov added.
At the moment, the courts resolve such issues by way of fines. However, Moscow does not currently have the legal tools to respond to discrimination against Russian media outlets. Moreover, foreign social media companies "often argue that they don’t accept the jurisdiction of Russian courts."
Pushkov emphasized that Russian lawmakers "don’t seek to block YouTube and Facebook." According to him, "the goal is to encourage social media companies to abide by Russian laws and refrain from censoring Russian online content.""If we don’t do anything, we will become hostage to an online dictatorship that will decide what we can and can’t read and watch," Pushkov concluded.
RBC: Russian banks demand stricter penalties for theft of confidential client data
Russian banks are calling for tightening penalties for stealing and disclosing information that is subject to bank secrecy. There are plans to introduce amendments to the Russian Criminal Code, RBC reports.
The initiative to tighten the relevant penalties was discussed at a meeting of the Association of Russian Banks on December 3. Market participants suggested that illegal access to bank secrecy should be punished by a prison term of 10-20 years.
"The current penalty is inadequate, given the damage done [by the disclosure of such information]," the association’s Vice President Alexei Voilukov told the news outlet. According to him, a relevant bill will be hammered out in the near future. There are plans to amend Article 183 of the Russian Criminal Code, which determines the penalties for the unlawful acquisition and disclosure of information constituting commercial, tax or banking secrets, and defines what is the meaning of "unlawful access" and "unlawful collection" of banking data. "There is a need to separate the term ‘bank secrecy’ from other secrets because access to this kind of information has become endemic. Nearly two million customers seeking access to bank secrecy are registered in the Russian segment of Darknet," Voikukov explained. Russia’s Central Bank supports the idea of stricter penalties for cyber crimes, a spokesperson told RBC. "However, the initiative put forward by market participants requires a deep legal analysis," he added.
The share of data leaks attributed to company personnel stands at 72% in Russia, which is twice as high as the global average. The financial industry comes in second as far as data theft is concerned, accounting for 18.9% of such incidents.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Restaurants set up remote work zones to soften pandemic's bite
Customers can now not only chill out but also work in Moscow restaurants. City residents have always had the opportunity to stop in at a cafe to dine and work on their laptops for a couple of hours. But now that many have shifted to remote work, dining establishments are moving to set up special business zones, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.
There is everything that one needs to work in such zones, including WiFi access, printing devices and stationery items. And it’s rent free, clients only have to make a deposit that they can use to pay for their food, Tatyana Sharayeva, the founder of the Foodworking project and President of the National Association of Office Operators and Coworking Companies, told the paper.
The cheapest table costs 700 rubles ($9.40) per person at one such restaurant in Moscow. The Ruski restaurant in the Moscow City district has the highest price tag at 2,000 rubles ($26.80). "It’s possible to hold talks with new partners and clients here. Newcomers will definitely be impressed with Moscow’s skyline views and exquisite cuisine," Sharayeva noted.
This is a great opportunity for dining establishments to make money as they are experiencing a decline in customers. The expert explained that "there are ‘dead hours’ at every restaurant, when no one comes to eat." "This is why they have no problem setting up a separate zone where their clients can work," she added, noting that both restaurants and customers benefited from that.
Restaurants also plan to establish pay-by-the-hour meeting rooms and start hosting business events at the beginning of next year.