Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, March 9, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: Russia, US to team up to protect the environment
Russia and the United States have embarked on resuming climate cooperation, with Russian Presidential Climate Advisor Ruslan Edelgeriyev having held his first meeting with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Climate protection remains one of the few promising areas for cooperation between the two superpowers, Kommersant writes.
Moscow stepped up international climate and environment cooperation when Barack Obama was US president. However, collaboration on this front was actually suspended under Donald Trump, but Joe Biden is focused on making environmental issues a priority.
Climate cooperation between Moscow and Washington will be aimed at preserving the Arctic, reducing black carbon emissions in the region, forestry projects and nuclear energy issues related to energy transition plans, Edelgeriyev told the newspaper. "Given our countries’ science and technology capacities, joint environmental efforts by Moscow and Washington can produce positive results. They will depend on the willingnesss of both countries to interact within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Climate Agreement," the Russian presidential advisor pointed out.
"Despite the current disagreements, Russia, the United States, the European Union, China and India as the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases need to work together, demonstrating examples of leadership to the rest of the world the way major powers played a key role in launching global studies and realizing the dangers coming from global warming in the mid-1970s. And now, the time has come for a new era in international cooperation, which would mark a switch to green energy and the development and introduction of environmentally sound technologies," Director of the Higher School of Economics’ Center for Environment and Natural Resource Economics Georgy Safonov emphasized.
Kommersant: Opposing parties in Armenia seek to remain within legal boundaries
Armenia's political crisis is ablaze without heating up. Both the government led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the opposition, which has secured the support of the country’s top military brass, seek to enforce their demands through legal means rather than through street clashes and the use of force, Kommersant notes.
Chief of the General Staff Onik Gasparyan is at the heart of the confrontation. After he and other top army brass had demanded the government's resignation, the prime minister tried to sack Gasparyan. However, the country's president rejected the dismissal request twice and now the decision will rest with the Constitutional Court.
Some lawyers believe that Gasparyan cannot be dismissed until a ruling is made on whether the Military Service Law is in line with the constitution. However, there is also another viewpoint. "If the president fails to sign the dismissal request within three days and refrains from challenging its compliance with the constitution in Armenia’s Constitutional Court, then it will automatically take effect in three days. In fact, legally, Onik Gasparyan is no longer chief of the General Staff," constitutional law expert Artashes Khalatyan noted.
Meanwhile, opposition forces are calling on the military to take power by force, particularly by cordoning off government buildings. Armenian political scientist Stepan Danielyan considers such a scenario to be highly undesirable. "It will have a negative impact on the country’s image on the international stage and may plunge the nation into the abyss of parliamentary turmoil," the expert cautioned. However, according to Danielyan, there can be a situation where a military coup would be justified. "If the political leadership opts to use force against demonstrators, the army will have the moral authority to employ tough methods and society will welcome it," the expert stressed.
Vedomosti: Political experts lay out four scenarios for Russia's 2021 parliamentary race
The most likely scenario for Russia's upcoming parliamentary election is that four parties will remain in the State Duma, Vedomosti writes, citing a report released by the Agency for Political and Economic Communications.
The agency's experts believe that there are four possible scenarios for the upcoming parliamentary campaign. According to the first one, the ruling United Russia party will retain a constitutional majority, and the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the A Just Russia party will also enter parliament. The second scenario envisions that a fifth party - a smaller one - will also make it into the legislature, while United Russia will teeter on the brink of a majority. Under the third scenario, the A Just Russia party will fail to enter parliament, and there will be only three parliamentary parties, with United Russia retaining the majority. A multi-party legislature is the most unlikely scenario, where two smaller parties pass the threshold to make it into the State Duma.
The reason why the current status quo is the most likely to continue is that at least five parties are capable of passing the five percent threshold, thereby stepping up competition among them, said the agency’s Director General Dmitry Orlov, who is a member of United Russia’s Supreme Council. "This is why the odds are that independent votes will be scattered among these parties," he added.
The likelihood of any scenario will depend on who leads United Russia in the election, political scientist Alexei Makarkin pointed out.
"If the president tops the party’s election list, then three to four parties will enter the State Duma. The election will be reminiscent of a plebiscite and everyone will focus on supporting United Russia," the expert predicted. However, if the president is not number one on the list, there will be several options, Makarkin noted. "The first one is that the Duma will remain a four-party parliament. And the second option is that a new party will enter the Duma," the political commentator concluded.
Izvestia: Biden unlikely to ease up on Venezuela
The Biden White House will maintain the policy of sanctions towards Venezuela despite its move to abandon former US president Donald Trump's political path, said experts interviewed by Izvestia.
Before being elected to the White House, Biden pledged to improve relations with Latin American countries. Experts expected the new White House occupant to have mercy on the Venezuelan people and lift the sanctions imposed on Caracas in 2015, However, Biden decided to extend them.
The move shows, first and foremost, that it’s not certain groups of US politicians that are responsible for plans to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, it’s a decision of the deep state that will never change, Spanish political scientist Jose Antonio Edigo told the newspaper. Professor at Venezuela’s Rafael Urdaneta University Jesus Castello Molleda, in turn, emphasizes that Biden is different from Trump mostly because he has abandoned military threats.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has started to build relations with Venezuela through opposition leader Juan Guaido, though his mandate as National Assembly chairman expired in January. Experts believe that Guaido has lost his political clout domestically, so the Americans won’t be able to bring him back to the international stage.
Analyst at Venezuela's Institute for National Defense Studies (IAEDEN) Vladimir Adriansa expects the Biden administration to continue to pursue the policy of pressure on Venezuela in the best tradition of Barack Obama because American think tanks have also viewed the region as America’s sphere of influence, so Guaido has nothing to do with it.
Vedomosti: Russia coping with economic crisis better than other countries
For the first time, Russia has endured an economic crisis better than the world in general. The country's GDP fell by 3.1% compared to a 3.5% drop in the global economy, Vedomosti writes, citing the Higher School of Economics (HSE) Center of Development Institute.
The Russian economy was able to cope with the crisis better than other countries thanks to the budget rule, which has been in effect for several years, and the government's efforts to support the economy, while the policy of targeting inflation contributed to financial stability, the center's expert Nikolai Kondrashov pointed out.
The Russian economy's isolated position turned out to be an advantage. "We don’t have a long chain, where parts of the same item are manufactured in 20 countries. Border closures and lockdowns destroyed production chains in Europe and America," Director of the Center for Business Tendency Studies at Higher School of Economics’ Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge Georgy Ostapkovich explained.
Vladimir Bessonov from the HSE Expert Institute attributed Russia’s positive economic figures to the specific structure of the country’s economy. "In developed countries, the service sector and industries producing final demand goods account for a large part of the GDP, but most of Russia’s GDP comes from the extraction and primary processing of commodities, that is, from the industries that aren’t directly related to consumers whose purchasing activities were limited," the expert elaborated.
Ostapkovich stressed that it was small businesses that the coronavirus-induced crisis had hit the worst. In Western countries, their share of GDP exceeds 60%, yet in Russia, that amounts to only 20%.