© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS
Top stories from the Russian press on Thursday, September 30h, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Putin, Erdogan focus on economic issues during face-to-face meeting
Relations between Moscow and Ankara are developing positively. This is evidenced not only by the growth of trade between the countries, but also by their joint actions on the international arena, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, experts told Izvestia that the situation in Syria, in particular, in the province of Idlib, was one of the main topics of the dialogue.
That said, the politicians focused primarily on the economic aspects of the mutual partnership, at least in the open part of the negotiations. Over the past nine months, trade has jumped 55% higher than last year. The amount of money Turkey poured into the Russian economy reached $1.5 bln. Meanwhile, Russian investments in Turkey’s economy hit $6.5 bln. Moscow and Ankara are jointly implementing a number of large projects. In particular, the TurkStream gas pipeline was fully launched. In addition, work is underway to build the Akkuyu power plant.
Erdogan also highlighted cooperation in the field of defense. Turkey became the only NATO member to acquire Russia’s S-400 air defense system. Regarding Syria, Turkish political scientist Kerim Has told Izvestia, that in order to avoid civilian casualties, interaction is required not only between Moscow and Ankara, but also between Erdogan and Assad. Nonetheless, so far the Turkish side has not agreed to such a dialogue, he added.
Izvestia: How the criminal case against Group-IB’s CEO could affect the Russian cybersecurity market
The arrest of the founder and CEO of Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, will not affect the company’s work, nor will it affect the Russian information security market, experts interviewed by Izvestia believe. The Group-IB office was searched on September 28, and the very next day the court imprisoned the businessman for two months. He faces up to 20 years behind bars and, according to lawyers, if the case goes to trial, acquittals under the treason article are rare.
Information security market players interviewed by Izvestia remained tight-lipped on Group-IB’s situation. However, according to one version, actively discussed on the market, it is possible that Group-IB's problems could have emerged because of the overly close contacts of its employees with Western special services. Another version is that Sachkov’s arrest was influenced by the interrogation of the Russian hacker Pavel Sitnikov. The hacker’s representative told Izvestia that Sitnikov repeatedly criticized the activities of Group-IB and its founder, and also collected compromising information on him.
Group-IB is a noticeable company in terms of PR, it is actively present in the media, but it cannot be called systemically vital for the information security market, one of its participants told the newspaper. The situation with Sachkov will hardly affect its business, suggested another market source. The company will probably try to distance itself from Sachkov if he is convicted, the source believes.
Head of the Content-Review project Sergey Polovnikov believes that the situation with Group-IB is unlikely to affect the Russian information security market in general. "If customers work with Western companies even after their connections with the special services become public, it is not clear why Russian developers should have any problems," he told the newspaper.
Kommersant: China asks for Russian electricity giant to cover energy shortages
Hammered by a shortage of electricity, China asked to increase its supply from Russia. Every year, Inter RAO exports around 3 bln kWh from the Russian Far East to China. According to experts interviewed by Kommersant, Russia could supply an additional 2 bln kWh by the end of the year. This volume, however, is unlikely to help solve China's problems, given their scale.
The crisis in China arose due to a shortage of coal for thermal power plants amid skyrocketing fuel prices, the closure of local mines, and problems with transportation. In theory, Inter RAO can boost supplies to 600-700 mln kWh per month (up to 2 bln kWh by the end of the year), Sergey Rozhenko from KPMG told the newspaper. However, such a modest volume is unlikely to help China whose total consumption is 7 trillion kWh per year, the expert added. It could be advisable for China to increase imports of Russian coal. However, Russian Railways claimed that the country still restricts the acceptance of goods at land border crossings due to strict quarantine measures.
On the other hand, the export growth will not have a serious economic effect for Inter RAO since the state limits supply profitability to 5%. "Due to the specifics of tariff setting, supplies to China are unlikely to lead to a sharp increase in profitability. By the end of the year, they can provide no more than 250-300 mln rubles ($3.4 bln - 4.1 bln) of additional profit, while the group’s EBITDA as a whole for the year is about 150 bln rubles ($2 bln)," Vladimir Sklyar from VTB Capital told Kommersant.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: US, EU officials to discuss economy, China, technological cooperation
The first two-day meeting between representatives of the European Union and the United States within the framework of the Trade and Technology Council, formed this year, kicked off in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The parties formally plan to approve the basis for technological cooperation. However, in practice, the discussion will focus on more pressing issues, such as a reduction of duties on aluminum, steel, and aircraft products, as well as the threat from China, which Washington will try to outline for Brussels as clearly as possible, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
The event, whose list of participants was approved back in June, was almost disrupted by the scandal associated with the creation of the AUKUS alliance (Australia, UK, US) and France’s fury, which threatened to cancel the meeting. Nevertheless, as expected, France will not ditch its Western partners. "On non-fundamental issues, Paris will be given bonuses. But most likely they will not concern trade policy," Leading Researcher at the Department of Social and Political Studies at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Fyodorov told the newspaper.
One of the key topics in addition to China could be the regulation of the aircraft industry since Boeing and France’s Airbus are rival giants. However, here preferences from the US should not be expected as well. "In general, Boeing is in a difficult situation and is suffering losses after the failure of the Boeing 737 MAX, which had problems with its design and software. So Washington will try to protect its manufacturer," Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at Moscow State University Yuri Rogulev told the newspaper.
Vedomosti: Facebook could face massive fines in Russia
Facebook can face a fine totaling a tenth of its entire revenue in Russia - representatives of Russia’s media watchdog (Roskomnadzor) plan to draw up and hand over the corresponding protocol for repeated failure to delete prohibited content, the watchdog’s press service told Vedomosti. Experts estimate Facebook's Russian revenue at around 12 bln rubles ($164.96 mln).
Since the beginning of the year, Russian courts have been actively fining large Internet companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, TikTok, and others, but so far these penalties have not made a serious dent, amounting to no more than 20 mln rubles ($274,931). For example, all the fines levied against Facebook during this time in Russia for not deleting prohibited information total 66 mln rubles ($907,271).
Whatever the financial penalty the Russian court will impose on Facebook, it will not be easy to collect it in Russia, Chairman of the digital economy commission at the Moscow branch of the Russian Association of Lawyers Alexander Zhuravlev told Vedomosti. "The main problem in collecting fines is that some foreign IT companies (Facebook, Twitter, and others) do not have an official representative office or branches in Russia, so it is difficult for bailiffs to collect them," Zhuravlev said.
He added that these difficulties should be removed by the recently adopted law on localizing foreign IT companies. According to it, from the beginning of 2022, foreign IT companies should have full-fledged representative offices in Russia or face restrictions.