Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, June 5, prepared by TASS
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Beijing’s ‘vaccine’ against color revolutions
Activists in Hong Kong and Western countries have reminded the world how the army was sent to suppress young demonstrators calling for democracy on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square back in 1989. In Hong Kong, large numbers of people lit candles in memory of those killed. Along with that, the US and the EU called on Beijing to respect human rights. However, these activities dedicated to the 1989 events are banned in mainland China, Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes.
In Hong Kong, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests came at a time when local legislators voted for a law criminalizing disrespect for China’s national anthem and stipulating imprisonment and fines for violators. Many Hong Kong residents view this legislation as another step toward stripping the region of its autonomy.
Russian experts have different opinions on the impact that the Tiananmen Square incident had on China. Doctor of Economics Andrei Ostrovsky points out that "unlike other countries, China’s economic situation is excellent, even in the pandemic’s wake." "The Chinese economy is recovering. As for the period that has passed since the 1989 events, China’s economic growth rate significantly surpassed the global average. China has for the first time hit the $10,000 benchmark in terms of per capita annual income. The living conditions of the Chinese people have improved immensely. There is one simple reason why mass protests are not on the agenda: China’s living standards are comparable to those in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I think that this is a vaccine against color revolutions," the expert said.
Nevertheless, Alexander Lukin, who heads the International Affairs Department at the Higher School of Economics, believes that "not every vaccine is miraculous." A large number of anti-government protests are recorded in China every year. It takes a major crisis to spark serious protests and there is no such crisis in sight right now, but it will likely break out sometime in the future. This is why no one can say that China's political system is more stable than others, the expert emphasized.
Kommersant: Ukraine insists on holding talks on Donbass only with Russia
Efforts to resolve the conflict in Donbass have reached a dead end. Ukraine says it intends to hold peace talks only with Russia whose aggression Kiev claims to be facing. Moscow, in turn, considers itself to be a mediator in the talks and not a party to the conflict and warns that if Ukraine keeps going on like this, Russian negotiators will move to silently observing the process within the Trilateral Contact Group.
This year, the parties haven’t achieved any progress in resolving political and security issues. The idea to create an advisory board involving residents of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk region, not affiliated with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR, LPR), as well as Ukrainian representatives, has been deep-sixed. While Kiev did not show obvious reluctance to make agreements with the DPR and LPR after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky took office, now Ukraine seems determined to ignore the unrecognized republics.
The DPR’s top diplomat, Natalya Nikonorova who heads the republic’s negotiating team, told the newspaper that "the Ukrainians have found an excuse to backpedal once again." "It is just more proof of Ukraine's unwillingness to build direct dialogue with people living in the republics and carry out its obligations," she pointed out.
Moscow also believes that Kiev’s approach is aimed at reshaping talks on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. When commenting on Ukraine’s refusal to create an advisory board, a Russian source close to the Contact Group’s negotiations said that "we have taken note of the fact that the agreements with Ukraine are worth nothing." "Kiev has toughened its rhetoric and started telling everyone that Russia is a party to the conflict so it will only speak with Russia and no one else," another Russian source noted. "If such an approach persists, there will be only one choice left for us: we will turn into observers and will silently monitor the process," he added.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: What are the odds of OPEC+ meeting being postponed
An OPEC+ ministerial meeting scheduled to take place on June 9-10 will hardly be postponed or cancelled because it would create a negative atmosphere on the market and cause oil prices to collapse, Rossiyskaya Gazeta notes.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has reaffirmed Moscow’s determination to continue participating in the OPEC+ deal. He pointed out that following the OPEC+ countries’ move to reduce oil production and a decline in output in other countries, the amount of excess oil on the market had dropped to seven mln bpd in May and the market was expected to reach a balance between supply and demand in June. According to Novak, it is not in the interests of oil producing countries to create additional volatility by spreading negative information.The OPEC+ countries cannot afford to fail to come to an agreement because oil market prices are far from what producers need in order to balance their budgets, said Ole Hansen, who heads Saxo Bank’s commodities strategy. He emphasized that a deal would be reached even in a worst-case scenario but if the parties continued to fail to comply with its requirements, the deal would not be able to help support oil prices.
Experts believe that the agreement will be extended for no longer than one or two months. "In the long term, the already planned reduction is too much, at least as far as conditions set for the second half of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 are concerned," said Vasily Tanurkov, director of ACRA corporate ratings group. In his view, if a decision on an additional reduction is made now, it will make it possible to review the deal sooner in the future.
Besides, in Hansen's words, some producers, including Russian ones, are seeing high demand for their oil in Asia, so Russian companies will be unwilling to extend the current terms of the deal. That said, the OPEC+ agreement will collapse without Russia's support.
Kommersant: Russians want their spending habits to bounce back
Russians have gotten used to the thought that the coronavirus pandemic will have a long-term negative impact on the economy, so they are now trying to improve their spending habits, Kommersant wrote, citing research by Romir and BCG.
"Our research has clarified that people are tired of the quarantine and long for returning to their everyday life," said BCG Managing Director and Partner Ivan Kotov. In particular, 35% of respondents plan to resume their previous pattern of spending on food in a few weeks, 32% believe they will need several months for that and about 17% are sure they will never go back to spending as much on food as they used to.
When a crisis strikes, people always tend to cut their spending on travel and clothing, Freedom Finance’s Valery Yemelyanov pointed out. According to his estimates, Russians will cut their spending on clothing by 25% and on travel by up to 70%. The expert noted that Russians’ incomes "kept declining over the past five years and then became stagnant." "This year, we expect a further decline of three to five percent, like in 2015-2016," Yemelyanov explained.
People’s efforts to avoid crowds for fear of getting infected and their money-saving approach have shaped a new consumer mindset. "We’ve dubbed it individual and smart consumption," Director of Consulting Practice in Retail Business Strategy and Operational Efficiency at PwC Russia Olga Sumishevskaya noted. "One of its features is that consumers focus on long-term planning," she added.
Izvestia: Coronavirus death rates may depend on human emotionality
The so-called nocebo effect may be one of the factors that determine coronavirus death rates, researchers have found out. Negative expectations, including those of a disease's symptoms, make bad things happen for real. A shock caused by bad news can even hasten the death of patients in serious condition, Izvestia writes.
All experts interviewed by the newspaper agreed that the nocebo effect depends on a person’s temper. People from different countries react to health-related information differently. It can partially explain the rather high death tolls in Southern Europe and the lower fatalities in countries located farther north.
"The way a person absorbs information about sickness and health can indeed depend on their cultural background," Head of the Department of Human and Animal Physiology at Moscow State University Andrei Kamensky pointed out. "People’s emotional makeup often depends on their ethnicity. Men from southern countries - Italians, Spaniards and Greeks - are more responsive to pain than northerners, for instance, Norwegians and Swedes. However, it is unclear whether northerners do feel less pain or if they can endure it better. It shows that different ethnic groups absorb information about sickness differently, particularly on the emotional level," the expert added.
Apart from the psychological perception of an illness, mortality also depends on many other factors. These include people’s genetic traits, their way of life, their immunity, external conditions and so on. However, it cannot be denied that a patient’s mental state is crucial for recovery," Kamensky emphasized.