Over 8,000 refugees flee from Ukraine in one day, Bridge connecting Crimea and mainland Russia may be given to private investors, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that the country is poorly preparing for the 2018 World Cup, G-7 leaders offer Russia chance to rebuild ties with the West, Al-Jazeera journalists could be jailed for up to 15 years in Egypt, Obama urges France to halt sale of warships to Russia.
RBC Daily reports that 8300 Ukrainian citizens have fled to Rostov region in the last 24 hours, according to Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman. “One hundred fifty one child was among those who arrived at the refugee camp which I’ve visited with an inspection.” The daily notes that in a televised interview Astakhov admitted that it wasn’t entirely correct to call these people refugees. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian border guard service has announced that not a single Ukrainian citizen has officially filed with Russian authorities for a refugee status. Regardless, due to the onrush of Ukrainian citizens to the Rostov region the local authorities have declared emergency role. Press service of the region’s governor Vasiliy Gubarev said that this decision was motivated by the need to support people arriving at the temporary shelters. The newspaper reminds that following the victory at the Ukrainian presidential election May 25 Petr Poroshenko announced that the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ underway in the country’s South East should be ‘swift and effective.’ The announcement resulted in a full-out combat operation in the area with special ops units storming local militia with artillery and aerial support.
Izvestia reports that Avtodor, Russia’s state-owned road infrastructure company, has calculated the expected price for the Kerch Strait Bridge, which will connect Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai. The total cost of the transit line, chosen among seventy four options, ranges from two hundred eighty three to three hundred seventy six billion rubles. The daily notes that the cheapest options is a joint bridge with two railways and four road lanes. The most expensive option is a four-lane cable bridge along with a railroad tunnel. Oleg Belozerov announced, following a governmental session, that several financing options are being considered, including using National Wealth Fund and attracting private investments. It is possible that the project will end up a toll bridge for either all cars or just freight trucks. The costs for the project are to be included in the budget of the Russian Federation for 2015 to 2018. The technical and economic feasibility document for the bridge is to be ready by July 1; the article reminds that the President set the deadline previously, with the construction to be finished by 2018.
Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that the country is poorly preparing for the 2018 World Cup. Out of seven stadiums to be constructed only one has a prepared project and budget documentation and a state expertise review. Moskovsiy Komsomolets writes that these stadiums are being constructed within the framework of the Federal Targeted Investment Program, which is currently at 6% completion of this year’s plan. The program receives eight hundred thirty billion rubles from the budget this year: this amount is to be spent on construction of over two thousand facilities. Medvedev said that the reason for such poor performance is a lack of documentation for the facilities, along with confirmation of approved budget costs. The article reminds that previously sports minister Sergei Mutko said that not a single stadium must cost over 15 billion rubles; so far these estimates have not changed. Moreover, after the World Cup in Brazil Russia must prepare for regular inspections from FIFA staff monitoring the preparation process.
The Washington Post reminds that Russia was disinvited from a gathering Thursday of the exclusive Group of Seven nations. However, it was clear that the international snub imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine situation is starting to fade, the daily notes. The article suggests that U.S. President Obama and other leaders meeting in Brussels offered an olive branch to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, inviting him to begin to resolve the seven-month Ukrainian crisis and rebuild relations with the West after an estrangement that invited comparisons to the Cold War. Although G7 previously warned that Russia would face harsher sanctions if it fails to ease months of tension, new economic penalties are on hold at the time. The newspaper reminds that sanctions, largely targeting the Russian defense industry, were readied in May in anticipation of potentially heavy Russian interference in the Ukrainian elections, which Russia had previously called illegitimate. Those sanctions were considered a last resort by many European nations that trade heavily with Russia. Moscow, however, refrained from compromising the election, and European diplomats said the strong hope now is that sanctions will quickly become unnecessary.
Prosecutors sought the highest possible jail terms for three Al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt, after accusing them, in their closing statements on Thursday, of making "a devilish pact" with the ousted Muslim Brotherhood, The Guardia reports. These journalists now face prison sentences worth 15, seven and 15 years, after being held since December on charges of smearing Egypt's reputation, aiding the Brotherhood, and doctoring footage. The lead prosecutor, Mohamed Barakat, said al-Jazeera's reports on sexual assaults and street protests were among those aimed at smearing Egypt's reputation in the outside world. "Freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to lie and spread false information," said Barakat. The daily notes that Al-Jazeera and, particularly, its Arabic wing is hated by pro-government Egyptians for its perceived bias in favour of the Brotherhood and for giving a voice to its supporters.
U.S. President Barack Obama has urged France to "press the pause button" on a sale of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia under a deal that has stoked fears that increasing Russia's naval capabilities could present a threat to its neighbors, The Moscow Times reports. "I have expressed some concerns — and I don't think I'm alone in this — about continuing significant defense deals with Russia at a time when they have violated basic international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their neighbors," Obama told a news conference in Brussels on Thursday. The daily notes 199-meter-long Mistral warship is capable of carrying more than a dozen heavy combat helicopters as well as hundreds of troops, and the deal for the two carriers — signed with France in 2011 — made former Soviet republics and other countries uneasy even before Russia's reunification with Crimea. Some analysts have warned that Russia's possession of the ships would change the balance of power at sea. But France, which has created 1,000 jobs under the $1.6 billion contract, has played down the concerns of its Western allies, including senior U.S. policymakers.