- Press review: Moscow to strike back at US-EU sanctions and Turkey, Iran at odds over Iraq
- Press review: Pashinyan open to snap elections and Sarkozy sentenced for corruption
- Press review: Will US push Moscow, Saudis closer and can Pashinyan endure current strife
- US to prepare additional measures against Myanmar after protest break-up
Top stories in the Russian press on Thursday, January 14, prepared by TASS
Izvestia: Trump impeached by the House for second time
The second impeachment crusade against outgoing US President Donald Trump a week before the inauguration of the new White House occupant is just creating problems for Democrat Joe Biden. Experts interviewed by Izvestia believe that this hype spearheaded by the Democratic Party led by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is shifting the focus of attention from the incoming administration’s plans, making the outgoing leader a key figure in the media space.
The outcome of the vote in the House of Representatives on January 13 was expected, Izvestia writes. Trump’s opponents decided to officially make the Republican the first president in the US history, who was impeached twice by the House (the first time on December 18, 2019). This time all 222 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted in favor of impeachment, while 197 Republicans voted against. In any case, the Democrats won’t be able to complete the impeachment process before Biden’s inauguration scheduled for January 20.
Meanwhile, many media outlets, including in the US, note that Biden has distanced himself from the impeachment drive. Experts told Izvestia that the Democratic Party’s crusade to ouster Trump is not helping Biden in any way, and is instead shifting the focus from the "good steps" taken by the new administration to the outgoing president. "It’s very important for Biden to appear as the real father of the nation in the eyes of Americans…Nearly 75 mln Trump voters is a significant figure and Biden understands that he needs not just the Democrats’ support. He certainly won, but under conditions of a precarious balance. He is pursuing an image of someone, who is ready to accept the demands of that conservative part of America, which is ready to go for Trump," said Valery Garbuzov, who heads the Institute of the US and Canada Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Biden also understands that impeachment is "a double-edged sword" and no one is immune, Yuri Rogulev, Director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at the Moscow State University (MSU), noted.
Kommersant: Navalny vows to return to Russia despite looming criminal charges
Opposition figure Alexey Navalny has announced plans to return to Russia from Germany on January 17. Upon his arrival, the blogger might be detained in connection with several criminal cases and face an investigation stemming from huge defamation lawsuits filed by businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. More than 900 Navalny’s supporters plan to meet him at the airport. Sources told Kommersant that Navalny’s fate was in the hands of law enforcement agencies, meanwhile attorneys and political scientists believe that the politician is unlikely to avoid detention.
Partner of De jure law firm Anton Pulyaev notes that Russian investigators have a legal right to detain Navalny upon his arrival for 48 hours as part of a fraud case and later demand custody in court. Managing partner at Position of Law firm Yegor Redin said the court could arrest Navalny. "If the investigators motivate the need to choose this restriction by the fact that the opposition figure had spent a long time abroad and did not show up at the probation department in due time, the court could grant the motion," he explained.
Navalny was discharged from the prominent Berlin clinic Charite on September 20, where he was sent after a medical evacuation from Russia following his alleged poisoning. The court is due to consider a motion filed by the federal prison authority on January 29. The politician insists that all criminal cases against him were fabricated in order to prevent his return. But he earlier said that he was determined to come back and support the efforts of his team preparing for the September elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
According to political scientist Abbas Gallyamov, Navalny’s presence in Russia could strengthen the non-systemic opposition. "With his ‘Smart Voting’ strategy he is the only one who could affect the Kremlin scenario of the Duma campaign," he explained. Meanwhile, the non-systemic opposition’s election campaign could have been more effective if Navalny had postponed his return until its start. Now there is a risk that the effect of his arrival and inevitable detention, according to the expert, will fade away before the parliamentary elections begin. Meanwhile, the Kremlin does not consider Navalny as "a political threat," an informed source told the newspaper. According to a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, in late 2020 some 3% of Russians trusted Navalny, slightly less than the recent peak seen after his alleged poisoning (3.2%).
Media: Russia to boost oil output under OPEC+ deal
A consensus between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the two leaders of OPEC+ group, helped to avoid lengthy talks and the risk that some countries would exit the deal. This could have seriously increased the risks of a new crisis on the oil market. The United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Nigeria and some other countries sought to step up production, but a single position and preliminary agreements between Russia and Saudi Arabia made it possible to preserve the deal under current terms. So, Moscow will derive additional benefits, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes.
Russia will be able to boost its oil output in February and March by 65,000 barrels per day each month, while the terms of the deal for other members of the alliance will remain unchanged. So, since early 2021 Russia will increase production by 125,000 barrels per day in January and by another 130,000 barrels in February-March, reaching 9.25 mln barrels per day by April.
"This is the success of Russia’s negotiating position," said Anton Usov, who heads KPMG’s international practice on providing services to oil and gas companies. "I would call this a convenient compromise between our country and Saudi Arabia. This should not affect the discipline of fulfilling the deal, and the parties are implementing the agreements rather well now."
Meanwhile, analysts told Izvestia that some states might fail to comply with OPEC+ deal and this could bring more than 2 mln barrels of excessive oil to the market in the coming six months. This concerns such countries as Iraq, the UAE, DR Congo, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan. In the event of their demarche, oil could plunge to $40, experts predicted. However, the scenario of a large-scale violation of the deal is very unlikely.
Izvestia: Big Tech censorship driving Moscow to strengthen Runet’s sovereignty
Russia is mulling steps to fast-track the development of national Internet services and switch state structures to domestic software. This is needed to weaken the influence of American tech giants on the country, experts interviewed by Izvestia said. The topic came to the forefront after Donald Trump’s accounts were blocked by Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Obviously, the world is searching for an alternative to their products and a surge in Telegram’s users confirms this trend, the specialists said.
Silicon Valley and Big Tech have discredited themselves very much and Russia as well as other countries will certainly respond to this, said Director General of Doctor Web Boris Sharov. "This is a rather clear and unambiguous signal to all countries," the expert noted. In the event of a political crisis the resources and capabilities of Internet companies could be used by one of the sides as a tool of pressure against those who disagree, he explained. GAFA (the Big Four - Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and similar "IT monsters" are now posing a real threat to any state, not just a potential one, Valentin Makarov, president of Russoft, a non-profit partnership of software developers, told the newspaper. "These platforms cannot be viewed as reliable, neutral and "kind." They are advancing their own interests, not those of you and me. It’s better not to fully rely on them and have a reserve option," said co-founder of Postgres Professional company Ivan Panchenko.
"If Americans behave so with their own people, what could they do to foreign resources using cloud servers or foreign users of their social networks? The Russian government is introducing new measures on advancing the domestic IT sector and what is happening now shows that these decisions are right," lawmaker Anton Gorelkin said. The goal of the authorities is to set rules on the market of Internet services and control their implementation, he noted.
Media: Russia to launch mass coronavirus vaccination drive next week
President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would launch a mass vaccination drive against COVID-19 next week. It will take 4.5 months to make this vaccination really massive, Head of Genome Engineering Laboratory at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Pavel Volchkov, told Izvestia. Currently, some 1.5 mln doses of the Sputnik V vaccine are produced every month and by the summer the volume will reach 8 mln doses. Soon, two more vaccines will be available - EpiVacCorona - developed by Russia's Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, and the third vaccine produced by the Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune and Biological Products.
The announcement of the mass vaccination drive is expected to boost the process of registering new vaccines, said Director for Development at RNC Pharma Nikolai Bespalov. "In a few months, vaccination can become truly massive. It’s quite real to vaccinate several million people per month," he stressed. The success of the vaccination campaign now largely depends on boosting production, specialists say.
According to a survey carried out by the Peterburg Policy foundation, in most Russian regions the vaccine is still unavailable to citizens, Kommersant writes. In the best case, a preliminary application has been opened. Only in five Russian regions access to mass vaccination is at a high level. Among them are Moscow, the Moscow Region, the Sakhalin Region, the Nenets and Chukotka Autonomous Regions. St. Petersburg is ranked in the "moderate group" along with the Kemerovo, Kurgan, Belgorod and Altai Regions. The major obstacles for the campaign are the low volumes of vaccination and the lack of a general approach to its preliminary application.