Top stories from the Russian press on Wednesday, May 5th, prepared by TASS
Kommersant: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan seek to tackle consequences of border conflict
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have calculated the human and material losses caused by the recent border conflict that took place on April 29-30. Now, the authorities of both countries are trying to find the means to rehabilitate the affected areas and determine measures to prevent similar developments in the future, Kommersant writes.
In order to improve the situation in the Bakten border province, Prime Minister Ulukbek Maripov of Kyrgyzstan has decided to provide a special status to the region. The Kyrgyz government specified that a relevant bill would strengthen the powers of the regional special envoy who would have the right to coordinate the activities of the regional branches of state bodies and local authorities, as well as to ensure cooperation with law enforcement agencies.
"Discussions on the matter have been going on for about 11 years," Kyrgyz political scientist Igor Shestakov pointed out. "The previous parliament tried to reinforce the border regions but it all ended in slogans and the development of some regional programs that were never implemented. As a result, thousands of Bakten residents have moved to Russia since Kyrgyzstan became an independent country because the region is facing very serious economic problems, to say nothing of the unresolved security issue," the expert added.
According to Russian expert Arkady Dubnov, there currently seems to be no possibility to resolve the conflict between the two countries and the best solution would be to just freeze it for now.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Washington up in arms over China's Arctic expansion
Washington up in arms over China's Arctic expansion Military drills have kicked off in Alaska, making it clear that Washington seeks to expand its capablity to counter Russia and China in the Arctic region. A thing to note is that, according to Lieutenant General David Krumm from the US Alaskan Command and Eleventh Air Force, it is China's activities that pose a major threat to US intrests because Beijing employs economic tools in order to establish itself in the region, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.
Few expect that China will start to outright seize lands. However, the big money that China has, as well as its trade and logistics activities, the creation of six research stations, its program to build icebreaker vessels and the adoption of a long-term roadmap on the Arctic do point to Beijing's ambition.
Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov believes that Moscow and Beijing can use the Northern Sea Route together in the future. Denisov emphasized that large-scale sea routes required massive investment, nonetheless, Chinese partners still show great interest.
Dmitry Trenin, a member of the Russian Internatinal Affairs Council, wrote in an analytical article that "some of the most important parts of the Russian and Chinese Arctic strategies directly contradict each other." "Nevertheless, Moscow and Beijing don't focus on these differences and avoid standoffs as far as practical policies are concerned. Moreover, China and Russia are boosting close cooperation in the Arctic based on their shared pragmatic interests," the expert stressed.
Izvestia: Warsaw summit highlights Poland's regional leadership claims
The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine have met in Warsaw to discuss Europe's future. The summit highlights Poland's claims for regional leadership, Izvestia notes.
The heads of state signed a statement saying that their countries would stand together to defend the values of European civilization, human rights and freedoms and the territorial integrity of EU members.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's participation made the event all the more intriguing. He stated that a war was going on in Europe and designated Russia as the aggressor. In response, Polish President Andrzej Duda promised that a decision on Ukraine's NATO accession would be made at the Brussels summit on June 14.
Clearly, the political community that is being established in Eastern Europe will be aimed against Russia. For years, Warsaw has been eyeing a project for a supranational organization, which would bring togehter Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and perhaps even Finland.
Political scientist Alexander Nosovich, based in Russia's westernmost region of Kaliningrad, points out that any alliance created by Central and Eastern European countries will be unviable because their capablities are far weaker than those of their western and eastern neighbors. "Besides, these countries are being torn apart by numerous historical contradictions and what unites them is their fear of Russia and that they are vassals of the US. Without umbrellas such as the EU and NATO, all the protracted conflicts between them will come to the surface once again. In additon, a Polish-led geopolitical alliance won't change the fact that their economies aren't self-sufficient," Nosovich emphasized.
Kommersant: Russian lawmakers seek to create obstacles for non-parliamentary opposition
A group of State Duma members has come up with a package of amendments to Russia's legislation on extremism. The main novelty here is that apart from the leaders and members of extermist organizations, their sponsors and those who provide them with any kind of assistance will also be barred from running in State Duma elections. Alexey Navalny's supporters, whose organizations may soon be designated as extremist in court, believe that the new bills are aimed against them, Kommersant writes.
Political scientist Konstantin Kalachev shares the opinion that the amendments "target the FBK [Anti-Corruption Foundation] and Navalny's supporters." However, he does not rule out that "the circle of those deprived of the opportunity to run in elections will be widened in the future." Kalachev, however, points out that laws don't apply to actions that were not viewed as offences at the time they occurred.
Political expert Alexander Pozhalov also believes that the bills are aimed against all those involved in the activities of the FBK and Alexey Navalny's network, including those who made donations to them even once. According to him, at the next stage, the ban may be expanded to cover regional and local elections.
Head of the Civil Society Development Fund Konstantin Kostin considers the new restrictions to be reasonable. "In the post-coronavirus era, the issue of national sovereignty and the need to protect national interests has become crucial in terms of political rhetoric, particularly during nationwide election campaigns. It is a common trend that is relevant for Russia, too," he stressed.
Kommersant: Russia may move to four-day working week
Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has recently reiterated the idea of moving to a four-day working week. He stated that a shorter working week would help prevent unemployment in certain cases, Kommersant notes.
Globally, discussions of a transition to a four-day working week began much earlier, and several experiments were conducted over the past 20 years. The coronavirus pandemic has revived interest in the idea. However, both employers and trade unions have little faith in the prospects of a reduced working week.
Labor Market Administration and Social Partnership Director at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Marina Moskvina explains that employers already have the right to reduce working hours for their employees but they don't have the resources to pay them for an additional day off.
According to head of the executive committee at the Confederation of Labor Igor Kovalchuk, trade unions are interested in making sure that the move to reduce the working week does not lead to a decline in wages. "An additional day off could boost the consumption of goods," Kovalchuk noted. However, in his words, real discussions of a four-day working week have not kicked off in Russia yet and trade unions have other pressing issues to address.