What the Russian papers say


MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) Britain may demand that Lugovoi be sent to prison/ Gazprom opposed to new gas regime in Ukraine/ Gas remains the main issue in Russian-Ukrainian relations - experts/ State fiddling in economy frightens even Kremlin bureaucrats/ Russia to legalize medical trials on children


Britain may demand that Lugovoi be sent to prison

Theoretically, British authorities could ensure that Andrei Lugovoi, a suspect in the murder of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, is jailed, even though Russia is refusing to extradite him.
The possibility is outlined in the European Convention on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters, which the lower house of Russian parliament, State Duma, ratified yesterday, after seven years of inertia.
Litvinenko died of polonium poisoning in London last November. Scotland Yard suspects Lugovoi, a former security officer turned-businessman, who was on the personal security detail of billionaire Boris Berezovsky, of murdering his colleague.
Under the convention, "a Contracting State may request another Contracting State to take proceedings ... if it considers that it could not itself enforce a sentence if one were passed, even by having recourse to extradition, and that the requested State could do so."
Viktor Ilyukhin, deputy chairman of the Duma security committee, said: "The clause definitely concerns Lugovoi, but not only him. We can now demand that the British authorities try Berezovsky and [Akhmed] Zakayev, who they are refusing to extradite."
To put Lugovoi behind bars, Britain needs to send a request to Russia to detain the suspected person for at least 18 days. During that period, the requesting state must provide an official request to initiate proceedings together with the necessary documentation and other evidence.
However, Moscow could demand the same regarding Berezovsky.
Although the convention stipulates the obligatory trial of the suspected person, there are several loopholes.
The requested state may refuse the request in whole or in part "if proceedings would be contrary to the fundamental principles of the legal system of the requested state" or "if it considers that the offence for which proceedings are requested is an offence of a political nature."
The request may be also refused "if the suspected person is undergoing or is to undergo a sentence involving deprivation of liberty in the requested state."
On the other hand, a trial could be a solution in some cases, because if a suspected person is acquitted, the other contracting state may not apply similar sanctions against him or her. So, if Lugovoi is acquitted in Russia, he cannot be prosecuted in Britain.


Gazprom opposed to new gas regime in Ukraine

On Tuesday, energy giant Gazprom threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine in October if the country failed to repay its $1.3 billion debt. However, the conflict has mostly economic implications because Gazprom fears that Ukraine could change the entire gas delivery system.
Gazprom demanded the repayment of debts by Kiev two days after national parliamentary elections that saw an alliance of two electoral blocs, associated with the 2004 Orange revolution, claim victory.
The Gazprom statement is a bit strange because it owns a 50% stake in RosUkrEnergo (RUE), a Swiss-registered company transporting natural gas from Turkmenistan in Central Asia to Eastern Europe, which buys all of its gas.
It is also unclear why Gazprom has decided to publicize this purely economic issue and to appeal to its European partners.
One of the reasons is that Gazprom was not completely sure that talks between RUE and Ukraine's gas monopoly Naftogaz Ukraine would succeed, and that subsidiaries would have to settle the debt issue if there were no results achieved.
European politicians, who still recall disrupted gas supplies in early 2006, called on Kiev and Moscow to solve the problem.
Gazprom fears that charismatic democratic leader Yulia Tymoshenko, widely tipped to become premier, could review existing gas deals with Russia because she does not like the fact that Ukraine buys Turkmen gas. Moreover, Gazprom and RUE fear possible debt-repayment problems after an Orange coalition takes over.
However, the latest Gazprom statement does not mean that Moscow is against this coalition and wants to influence the formation of the new Ukrainian government.
Loud statements have become a trademark of the monopoly in recent times. They accompanied the "gas wars" with Ukraine and Belarus, while Gazprom raised prices for other customers in the CIS and announced plans for the development of the Shtokman gas condensate deposit in the Barents Sea.
The same can be said for the projected Nord Stream gas pipeline, due to link Russia and the European Union via the Baltic Sea, and Russia-EU debates on liberalizing the gas market.
It appears that Moscow is also telling Finland that it must agree to build the Nord Stream gas pipeline in its home waters.
On the whole, Gazprom statements are not politically motivated, they warm up the market and help raise gas prices.

Rossiiskaya Gazeta

Gas remains the main issue in Russian-Ukrainian relations - experts

Ukrainian parties are trying to form a parliamentary coalition, but no coalition will change the format of relations with Russia. According to Ukrainian experts, the prospects for relations with Russia will mainly depend on solving the gas delivery problem.
Ukrainian political analyst Vladimir Fesenko, head of the Penta Institute, said, "The future of Russian-Ukrainian relations if the government is headed by Yulia Tymoshenko will only depend on solving the gas issue. Tymoshenko overtly says that she wants to make Russian-Ukrainian gas relations transparent and clear. Behind the scenes, she's trying to gain control over gas running through Ukraine. Taking into account the aim she wants to achieve, she will be flexible in her attitude towards Russia. I doubt we will hear anti-Russian remarks in the near future. She might demand that Russia deliver gas at a clear, economically-based price; that is the most she can do.
"On the whole, Yulia Tymoshenko will try to maintain the status quo in Russian-Ukrainian relations. She pays a lot of attention to Europe. She wants to become a European leader. Tymoshenko will try to make herself the main Ukrainian who will integrate the country into Europe. It will help her to play the role of a moderator in relations between Russia and Europe. She is going to do it in her revolutionary style: create a local conflict, carry out a blitz and then successfully solve it."
Konstantin Bondarenko, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Administrative Problems, said: "Tymoshenko has never been an enemy of Russia. She has good relations with the Russian business elite."
Vadim Karasev, head of the Institute for Global Strategies in Kiev, said: "In any case, the main issues for premier Tymoshenko will be energy-related ones. All the initiatives in Russian-Ukrainian gas relations, including the establishing of a consortium, which was undertaken by the previous government, will be checked. The same will happen with agreements between the Russian and Ukrainian nuclear power agencies. Following her European strategy, Tymoshenko will try to redirect Ukrainian energy to Europe. And in Brussels, as is known, the customer is always right. Tymoshenko can make Europe a middleman in negotiations with Russia, which in turn tries to deal with each country separately."

Gazeta, Gazeta.ru

State fiddling in economy frightens even Kremlin bureaucrats

The top echelons of power are now engaged in a discussion on what economic structures will be inherited by the next president. Arkady Dvorkovich, head of the presidential experts' directorate, is categorically against state corporations. He has described the trend as dangerous. The one to decide who is right will, as always, be Vladimir Putin.
The past year has seen several state corporations emerge at once. Aside from the Bank for Development, we now have corporations on nanotechnologies (Rosnanotekh), on nuclear power (Atomenergoprom), the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USBC), and the Foundation for Reforming Housing and Communal Services.
And judging by everything, this is far from the end. As late as Tuesday, deputies voted to set up a state-run construction corporation to prepare the Olympic Games in Sochi (Olympstroi), which could handle a $30 billion budget.
Currently, the government is considering transforming Rosoboronexport into a state corporation called Rostekhnologii and the possibility of corporations on road building (Avtodor) and on fisheries.
"When a proposal is made to establish state corporations for medical supplies, roads, fisheries, the implication is that the state is not even trying to understand that private business can do all that," said the chief presidential expert ruefully. He said "this approach could lead to zero growth in the Russian economy."
"Since the UAC was set up, state corporations have been proliferating like rabbits," said Alexei Pavlov, head of analysis at VIKA industrial group. "Current thinking is that if an industry has headaches, state corporations will automatically remedy them. But it is impossible not to agree with Dvorkovich that such monopolies prevent the development of private business and competition. State corporations are able to totally wipe out competition, but whether they can offer anything instead is anybody's guess."
Dvorkovich is not a lone voice in criticizing this approach. But few are voicing their condemnation publicly. And many of those who have, lost their posts, like ex-premier Mikhail Fradkov, for example, criticized the idea of establishing Rostekhnologii. Former Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said practically on the same day it was "necessary to call a halt to the creation of state corporations." Neither Gref nor Fradkov are Cabinet members now. On the other hand, the president personally submitted a bill on Rostekhnologii to the State Duma. Dvorkovich's job in the experts' directorate will now be an indicator for all to see what the Kremlin chooses: freedom or non-freedom.


Russia to legalize medical trials on children

Medical officials in Russia are set to bring national laws into line with European legislation by allowing clinical trials of new medications on children. The professional community largely supports the idea, while rights groups argue that the legalization of such tests should come with a provision making doctors legally responsible for the results of their pharmaceutical experiments on minors.
On Wednesday, Russia's medical drugs watchdog, Roszdravnadzor, began working on the medications legislation amendments that would allow trials of medicines on children.
The head of the agency's department for state control of pre-clinical and clinical trials, Sergei Filyunin, said that trials involving adults are restrictive and cannot provide objective data on the efficiency of new drugs and on their potential side effects, if administered to children.
Alexander Tsaregorodtsev, head of Moscow's Pediatrics and Emergency Surgery Institute, said clinical trials on children are imperative if only because metabolic processes in their bodies do not occur in quite the same way as in adults.
And according to Alexander Baranov, the chief pediatrician at the Health and Social Development Ministry and the director of the Russian Research Center for Children's Health at the Academy of Medical Sciences, a lack of medicine is another strong argument in favor of legislative amendments now in the pipeline.
"[Russia's] pediatrics is more than 80% undersupplied by pharmaceutical companies these days," said Baranov. "And since there are very few children's drugs currently available in this country, pediatricians have to treat kids with medications that are intended for adults, but have no contraindications for children. More often than not, though, it is physicians themselves who determine the dose to be administered to a child, which may pose a certain threat to the young patient's health."
Baranov also said that in Russia there are no records as yet on the number of children who may have suffered from the side effects of such drugs. Yet, medications not tested on children are extensively used in all areas of medicine, including perinatal (babies up to one year of age).
In August, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office dropped a criminal case against three physicians from Volgograd who had been charged with testing a GlaxoSmithKline vaccine on children.
"Following this incident, foreign companies will not risk carrying out medical trials of drugs, thus making the position of our sick children even more complicated," said Baranov.
Lawyer Alexander Saversky, who heads the Public Council for Patients' Rights, argues, for his part, that such trials must not be allowed unless medical professionals are made legally responsible for their results.

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