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What the Papers Say, Sept. 24, 2012

Igor Tabakov

Kommersant

1. Yevgeny Timoshinov article headlined "Sistema Fails Vladimir Lisin" says the Russian Railways company has started the sale of its controlling stake in PGK (First Cargo Company). The initial bidder, PGK co-owner Vladimir Lisin, now faces competition from financial corporation Sistema; pp 1, 11 (765 words).

2. Ivan Safronov article headlined "Armed Forces Defend Motherland Until Last Thread" says the Economic Development Ministry has drafted a decree banning law enforcement agencies from buying foreign goods and clothing; pp 1, 3 (647 words).

3. Olga Shestopal and Dmitry Ladygin article headlined "Acceleration of Free Placement" says Promsvyazbank is hurrying to carry out its IPO following in the footsteps of Sberbank; pp 1, 10 (795 words).

4. Alexandra Bayazitova article headlined "Central Bank Cuts Interest Rate" says the Russian Central Bank is to reduce the overnight cash rate Russian bank deposits; pp 1, 10 (659 words).

5. Maxim Ivanov and Sofya Samokhina article headlined "Opposition Ready to Defend Its Rights in Constitutional Court" says the State Duma opposition plans to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the amendments to rules that limit the duration of speeches in parliament; p 2 (503 words).

6. Maxim Ivanov article headlined "National Anti-Popularity" says a recent public opinion poll has shown that over half of respondents recognize the names of opposition leaders, however people said they were afraid of protests as a threat to stability; p 2 (532 words).

7. Irina Nagornykh et al. report headlined "Aligned Movement" says regional leaders and some political forces are expected to join the All-Russia People's Front after it becomes a political party; p 2 (818 words).

8. Natalya Korchenkova and Taisia Bekbulatova article headlined "Promo Material Collected for Oleg Mitvol" says a total of 16 candidates will take part in the mayoral election in the Moscow region city of Khimki; p 2 (632 words).

9. Maxim Ivanov article headlined "It's Now Easier to Commit State Treason" says the State Duma has passed in the first reading a bill that qualifies the consulting of foreign government bodies as treason. The author notes that the bill was drafted by Putin's Cabinet four years ago; p 3 (643 words).

10. Maria-Luiza Tirmaste article headlined "No Successor Found for Boris Titov" says the post of the chairman of the Business Russia organization will be split among five co-chairmen after Boris Titov became business ombudsman; p 3 (513 words).

11. Maxim Varyvdin interview with the Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin, speaking on the Russian legal system; p 4 (1,447 words).

12. Olga Allenova article headlined "Georgian Opposition Disobeys Patriarch" says protests triggered by the release of a video showing prison torture in Tbilisi are gathering strength in Georgia; p 7 (621 words).

13. Vladislav Kagan article headlined "Belarus Election Outstrips Finnish One" says the parliamentary election results in Belarus were predetermined as only supporters of Alexander Lukashenko will get seats in the parliament; p 7 (449 words).

14. Maria Yefimova article headlined "Libyan Militants Repent, But Refuse to Disarm" says militant groups who attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi have announced a decision to dissolve. Experts are skeptical about the Libyan authorities' prospects for restoring order in the country; p 7 (440 words).

15. Olga Kuznetsova article headlined "Syrian Opposition Gets Stronger in Belief" analyzes the ideological differences between Syrian opposition groups; p 8 (687 words).

16. Maxim Yusin article in an opinion column headlined "Cost of Issue" says the situation with the Syrian opposition shows that the West should have little hope that moderate Islamic forces could come to power if Bashar Assad is overthrown; p 8 (380 words).

17. Sergei Strokan article headlined "Minister Shares Brotherhood With al-Qaida" says the initiative of the Pakistani Railways Minister to pay a reward to anyone who kills the author of an anti-Islamic film has triggered a scandal. The minister urged the Taliban and al-Qaida to carry out the task; p 8 (543 words).

18. Kirill Melnikov article headlined "Rosneft Awaits BP in Capital" says that Rosneft has revealed that the company is ready to offer BP its shares; pp 9, 11 (700 words).

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

1. Alexandra Samarina article headlined "Kremlin Goes Back to the Good Old Days" says the State Duma may pass a bill on electoral blocs due to the weakening positions of United Russia; pp 1-2 (1,012 words).

2. Vladimir Mukhin article headlined "Anatoly Serdyukov's Maneuvers Praised for Excellence" says the Caucasus 2012 military drill has proved that Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has remained in President Putin's good books; pp 1-2 (648 words).

3. Ivan Rodin article headlined "Traitors and Spies All Around Again" says the State Duma passed in the first reading amendments to the law on treason and spying, which could potentially see NGOs funded by foreign intelligence services qualified as spies; pp 1, 3 (778 words).

4. Sergei Kulikov article headlined "Gazprom Asks to Reduce Taxes" says Gazprom has warned that without tax concessions it will be unable to extract 35 billion cubic meters of gas in 2014 and its investment programs will be at risk. The government is expected to meet the gas monopoly's demands; pp 1, 4 (683 words).

5. Anastasia Bashkatova article headlined "Pilot Universal Card Tested" says that Russia will replace all identity documents including passports with universal cards, which later will also be replaced with "universal passports"; pp 1, 4 (1,003 words).

6. Nikolai Surkov article headlined "Islamic President Points U.S.A. to Mistakes" comments on the beginning of the Egyptian president's visit to the U.S.A. where he called on the West to have greater respect for Muslim values; pp 1, 8 (537 words).

7. Editorial headlined "2 Weeks of Clashes Between Civilizations" looks at the anti-Western protests triggered by the U.S.-made film about Islam and French cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad; p 2 (490 words).

8. Andrei Vaganov article headlined "How to 'Digest' Pussy Riot" advises the Russian authorities not to take Pussy Riot seriously and notes that the surrounding protest should have been turned into a farce; p 3 (661 words).

9. Vladimir Skosyrev article headlined "Kill Blasphemer, Get $100,000" comments on a $100,000 reward offered by the Pakistani railways minister for the head of the author of the "Innocence of Muslims" film; p 8 (558 words).

10. Anton Barbashin article headlined "Russia and U.S.A. Split Central Asia" reviews the outcomes of President Putin's visit to Kyrgyzstan; 9 (807 words).

11. Oleg Vladikin article headlined "Week in Army: 'Fighting' in South and North of Russia" comments on the Caucasus 2012 command and staff exercise; p 11 (528 words).

Vedomosti

1. Maxim Tovkailo and Oksana Gavshina article headlined "Not a Single Ruble Without Putin" says Rosneft head Igor Sechin has demanded that the government's plan to transfer 95 percent of Rosneft's revenues to the state budget be agreed with President Putin; pp 1, 3 (795 words).

2. Anna Razintseva and Irina Reznik article headlined "Earth Depths Against Gazprom" analyzes the threat of cheap shale gas to the business of the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom; pp 1, 12 (1,760 words).

3. Maxim Glikin et al. report headlined "FSB Gets List of Traitors" says the State Duma passed in the first reading a controversial bill enlarging the definition of treason, which was drafted during Medvedev's presidency in 2008; pp 1-2 (571 words).

4. Editorial headlined "Familiarize Yourself: 58th Article" says amendments to the law on treason passed by the State Duma in the first reading resemble Stalin's 58th article, which treated any cooperation with a foreign organization as state treason; pp 1, 4 (501 words).

5. Natalya Kostenko et al. report headlined "Party of Real Agents" says the U.S. State Department has revealed that the United Russia party used financial assistance from the USAID agency, which will soon wind up its operations in Russia; p 2 (569 words).

6. Maria Zheleznova article headlined "Candidates Banned From Opposition" says that 63 members of the MMM financial pyramid and three right-wing nationalists were not allowed to take part in the election to the opposition Coordination Council; p 2 (500 words).

7. Another editorial headlined "Caesar to Caesar" analyzes the reasons behind growing religious intolerance in the world; p 4 (308 words).

8. Oksana Gavshina article headlined "Man of Week: Igor Sechin" comments on the role of Igor Sechin in Russia's energy sector; p 4 (292 words).

9. Konstantin Sonin article headlined "To Our Republicans" comments on the U.S. presidential election campaign and says Russian politics lacks competition; p 4 (440 words).

10. Olga Platonova interview with Sberbank head German Gref speaking on the bank's share listing and its policy abroad; p 6 (2,215 words).

11. Ksenia Boletskaya article headlined "Radio Not for Foreigners" says Radio Liberty will have to wind up its AM-broadcasting in Russia to comply with the requirements of a new Russian law restricting foreign-controlled media; p 10 (344 words).

Rossiiskaya Gazeta

1. Vladimir Barshev article headlined "Roads, Fools, Murderers" reports on a grave road accident in Moscow, which left seven people dead, and on measures to be taken against drunk drivers in Russia; pp 1, 5 (959 words).

2. Yelena Kukol interview with Deputy Economic Development Minister Sergei Belyakov speaking on the role of regional heads in improving the investment climate in Russia; pp 1, 4 (909 words).

3. Tamara Shkel article "Great Repair" says that the State Duma has passed a bill defining new rules for the formation of the Federation Council; pp 1-2 (900 words).

4. Vladislav Vorobyev article headlined "To Cool Down Flash Points" comments on the contribution of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the work of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly; p 8 (319 words).

Izvestia

1. Svetlana Subbotina and Alexander Yunashev article headlined "United Russia Receives Kremlin's Approval to Move Clock Hands" says United Russia is drafting a bill on bringing in permanent winter time in Russia; pp 1, 4 (716 words).

2. Anna Akhmadyeva article headlined "Defense Ministry Refuses to Return Money to Public TV" says the Defense Ministry's Zvezda TV channel will keep its frequencies and state financing allocated for 2012. Part of the state funding was expected to be spent on the newly established Public TV project; pp 1, 4 (590 words).

3. German Petelin article headlined "Federal Guard Service Buys Brand Cosmetics" says the Federal Guard Service plans to buy French cosmetics for its personnel in Sochi; pp 1, 4 (496 words).

4. Pyotr Kozlov interview with pro-Kremlin political scientist Sergei Kurginyan criticizing a bill on social protection considered by the State Duma, as it is expected to violate children's rights; pp 1, 7 (1,215 words).

5. Yulia Tsoi et al. report headlined "CPRF Initiates Checkup of All Deputies" comments on the war of compromising materials in the State Duma: The Communists now want all deputies' income to be checked; p 2 (551 words).

6. Ivan Konovalov article headlined "Defense Ministry Refuses to Set Up Nuclear Command" says the Defense Ministry has given up on the idea of setting up a single command of the strategic nuclear forces; p 2 (442 words).

7. Dmitry Runkevich article headlined "State Duma and Prokhorov to Work on Religious Code" says that the State Duma has agreed to a proposal by businessman Mikhail Prokhorov to write a Russian Religious Code; p 2 (500 words).

8. Yulia Tsoi and Anton Lednev article headlined "Pussy Riot Dreams of Their Own 'Magnitsky List'" says the lawyers of the Pussy Riot punk group want the West to impose visa sanctions against officials involved in the prosecution of members of the female punk band; p 3 (505 words).

9. Pyotr Kozlov interview with Foreign Ministry official Anvar Azimov, speaking on the visa talks with the EU; p 5 (1,115 words).

10. Konstantin Volkov article headlined "Conflict With China Pushes Japan to Set Up Army" reports on the recent developments in the Chinese-Japanese territorial dispute; p 5 (586 words).

11. Konstantin Volkov article headlined "Caspian Region Becomes Site of Military Ambitions" says that countries of the Caspian region are boosting their armed forces, driven by possible military action against Iran; p 5 (700 words).

12. Irina Kezik article headlined "Rosneft Finds Money to Buy BP Stake in TNK-BP" says that Rosneft has agreed to pay $23.5 billion for BP's stake in TNK-BP; p 8 (400 words).

Moskovsky Komsomolets

1. Tatyana Zamakhina article headlined "Dmitry Medvedev's Universal Card" comments on the plans to introduce universal plastic cards replacing passports and other ID documents in Russia; pp 1-2 (673 words).

2. Ayder Muzhdabayev article headlined "Torture in Georgia, Torture by Georgia" analyzes the influence of the prison torture scandal on the parliamentary election campaign in Georgia; pp 1-2 (1,147 words).

3. Vladislav Inozemtsev article headlined "Russia and Medvedev" says the Putin-Medvedev job swap was announced one year ago. The expert analyzes changes in the Russian political life in that period; p 3 (1,100 words).

4. Viktoria Prikhodko article headlined "We Call on Authorities to Change Their Mind!" says that rights activists are continuing to call for an end to the criminal prosecution of those arrested over unrest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad; p 2 (5 words).

Novaya Gazeta

1. Andrei Kolesnikov commentary titled "U-turn Over Arkhangelsk" contemplates the political significance of the overturning of a court ruling reducing the jail term for former Menatep chief and the business partner of ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Platon Lebedev; p 2 (400 words).

2. Vera Chelishcheva article titled "Freedom Held Up" provides a timeline of developments in the Yukos case in the context of the overturning of the decision to reduce Lebedev's sentence; pp 3-4 (1,350 words).

3. Yelena Rykovtseva, a former observer at Radio Liberty, provides her take on what happened with Radio Liberty in Russia in light of the recent scandals over the appointment of Masha Gessen as editor, mass dismissals of staff and the end of its AM-broadcasting; p 8 (1,100).

4. Diana Khachatryan article headlined "They Don't Touch Their Own" says that a special Duma commission on checking the accuracy of deputies' income declarations has found that four out of five of the United Russia deputies whom the opposition considers to have illegal commercial interests have not committed any wrongdoing; p 9 (1,000 words).

5. Andrei Kolesnikov commentary titled "One Year Since the Castling" recaps on what has happened to the Putin-Medvedev tandem in the year since they announced their "job swap" plans; p 10 (400 words).

RBK Daily

1. Anastasia Novikova and Andrei Kotov article headlined "Cost Under Question" says United Russia representatives have admitted that they had previously worked with the USAID agency, however, they say that they did not take any money — only allowed the Americans to pay for their dinners; p 1 (700 words).

2. Svetlana Makunina and Ivan Petrov article titled "Gazprom's Secrets" says that the bill enlarging the definition of "state treason," passed by the State Duma in the first reading on Friday, may also be used to protect strategic companies against probes by foreign states, as in the case with Gazprom and the European Commission; pp 1-2 (450 words).

3. Valeria Khamrayeva article titled "Symbol of Era Not to Join Coordination Council" says that jailed ex-Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky has decided not to run for the opposition's Coordination Council, despite encouragement from other opposition leaders, including Alexei Navalny; p 2 (350 words).

4. Yaroslav Nikolayev article headlined "Courts to Go Online" says that the Russian government has allocated almost $3 billion until 2020 to create e-infrastructure to support the Russian court system; p 3 (400 words).

5. Galina Starinskaya article titled "BP Not to Miss Out" says that BP intends to invest the proceeds of the sale of its stake in TNK-BP into Rosneft shares and new Rosneft projects; p 10 (350 words).

6. Yekaterina Kravtsova article headlined "Innocence of YouTube" says that Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov has said that Russia is unlikely to block access to YouTube over the "Innocence of Muslims" film, despite his earlier tweets suggesting that this may happen; p 14 (300 words).

Noviye Izvestia

1. Vera Moslakova article titled "Punishment for Free Thinking" says that the United Russia party has offered the post of the head of the Duma's new media relations committee to Alexei Mitrofanov, formally of the A Just Russia party, instead of to their own Boris Reznik. Experts believe that the latter was punished for abstaining from the vote on stripping opposition Deputy Gennady Gudkov of his Duma seat; pp 1-2 (250 words).

2. Nadezhda Bulanova and Anatoly Dmitriyev article titled "Enemies of the State Again" reports on a bill expanding the definition of state treason, which the State Duma passed in the first reading on Friday; p 2 (600 words).

Komsomolskaya Pravda

1. Yelena Chinkova article titled "Americans Drafting 'Tymoshenko List'" reports on a U.S. Senate initiative to introduce sanctions against Ukrainian officials who are considered to be implicated in the prosecution of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; p 2 (200 words).

2. Another Yelena Chinkova article headlined "'The Most Important Thing is to Get Your Breasts on Film!'" looks at the controversial Ukrainian feminist group Femen and their provocative stunts; p 7 (200 words).

3. Dmitry Voskoboinikov commentary titled "Deceitful Infidels and White-Headed Capuccines" considers the controversy surrounding the "Innocence of Muslims" film; p 9 (900 words).

4. Israel Shamir piece titled "Why Does Russia Need Help With Booby Traps?" lauds the Russian authorities' decision to expel the USAID agency from Russia.

Moskovskiye Novosti

1. Irina Novikova interview with an activist of the Existential Russia movement titled "If Not You, Then Us" on the movement's vision for the Russian opposition; p 5 (550 words).

Sept. 24, 2012/BBC Monitoring/©BBC 

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