Costly pleasures: The fifth-generation fighter
On Thursday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in Zhukovsky near Moscow and inspected the T-50 PAK FA (Future Frontline Aircraft System) fifth-generation fighter.
The state-of-the-art T-50, due to form the mainstay of the Russian Air Force, is currently undergoing flight tests. The prototype aircraft has performed 15 flights to date, getting past the superstitious 13th flight.
Putin said Thursday that about 11 billion rubles' ($350.3 million) worth of federal allocations would be spent on expanding the Zhukovsky-based National Aircraft Construction Center through 2012. TsAGI itself will receive a billion rubles ($32.1 million).
The prime minister noted with satisfaction that TsAGI, which tests fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and various complex structures, was functioning smoothly.
Putin was subsequently shown the famous T-50 fighter, the future of the Russian Air Force. Flight tests of this fifth-generation fighter are proceeding as planned. But it is unclear whether this schedule took Putin's June 17 visit into account.
On January 29, 2010, the T-50 took off on its 47-minute maiden flight from an airfield at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO) in Russia's Far East. Since then, the aircraft has already spent several hours in the air. The test program is so packed because the first production aircraft is due to be delivered in 2015.
When implemented, the T-50 program is expected to confirm the fact that the Russian aircraft industry and affiliated sectors have attained entirely new production levels. The warplane will be equipped with wholly new avionics and phased-array radar.
It owes its clean lines and unprecedentedly low radar, optical and infrared visibility levels to the use of composite materials and innovation technology.
Independent analysts give an overall negative forecast for the national rearmament program. The country has virtually wasted the 20 years which have passed since the break-up of the Soviet Union, said Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Moscow-based Center for Military Forecasts.
Not a single new tank or fixed-wing aircraft has been developed since 1991, with only one helicopter being developed and used. "Fifth-generation planes are very expensive. Comparing total costs, Russia and the United States spend approximately the same amounts on their development and production," Tsyganok told the paper.
The United States has failed to implement a similarly ambitious program. Consequently, the U.S. Air Force now operates 80, rather than 280, fifth-generation warplanes. It is unclear how many T-50s the Russian Defense Ministry will be able to afford.
Invest in real economy, not stocks, urges Shuvalov
First Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov suggested investors focus on the real sector, not the stock exchange. "I would be very cautious about stock investments in this country. I would rather see investors building plants or developing something new," he said.
But he warned real sector investments do not offer quick returns: modernization requires time, patience and a long-term strategy. GDP growth will be limited to 5% a year, because the government plans to reign in spending, Shuvalov said.
"Moving to a knowledge-based economy and with 7% growth is very complex because it entails a large capital inflow and a trend towards social spending. On the other hand, 4-5% growth will make modernization possible," Shuvalov said.
Russia does not need rapid growth, he believes, and any comparison with growth rates in other BRIC countries (Brazil, India, and China) would be a mistake. In the first quarter of 2010, the Russian economy grew by 2.9%, that of China by 11.9%, of Brazil by 9% and of India by 8.6%.
Russia does not need high growth rates, the first deputy prime minister said. Its economy needs qualitative change.
But quick sales of state-owned assets are possible and of interest to the government, Shuvalov said.
"If an investor says: 'I want a particular asset. Please arrange an auction,' there will be no delay. It will take only 45 days," he promised.
Russia needs investments in the real sector of its economy, agrees Alexander Kochubei, Lombard Odier executive vice-president.
According to Russia's Federal State Statistics Service, in the first quarter direct investment dropped by 17.6% to $2.6 billion.
But any advocacy of the real sector over the stock exchange makes no sense, Kochubei believes: "Those who invest in the market and those who invest in the real sector are two different types of investors."
The stock exchange is also more profitable, he added, anyone entering the market for several months in the right way can earn about 20% a year.
The profit rate in the real sector is lower and the aims of investment are entirely different: they are to develop new markets, says Alexander Markus, executive director of the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce.
Eastern Overtures: Poland votes for Russia
Poland will hold early presidential elections this Sunday. Relations between Russia and Poland are set to improve whichever of the two main candidates, Bronislaw Komorowski and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, wins. Only six weeks ago, nobody in Poland had any doubt that the Speaker of the Parliament and acting Head of State Bronislaw Komorowski would be elected president. He is believed to support friendly relations with Moscow. But his main rival, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has managed to strengthen his position recently.
The latest polls in Poland give Bronislaw Komorowski the largest share of the vote (41%), followed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski at 29%. In total 10 candidates are running for president.
The current campaign has seen many political surprises, says Larisa Lykoshina, an expert on Eastern Europe at the Institute for Scientific Information, Russian Academy of Sciences. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who did not even intend to participate in the elections following his brother's death in an air crash, has been the campaign's biggest surprise.
But Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party had no other suitable candidate to nominate. Currently, there is a 12% gap between Komorowski and Kaczynski, but back in early May, it was as big as 25%. Experts explain this surge in popularity by the fact that Kaczynski has traveled extensively to regions hit by severe flooding. In addition, the Poles view the entire Kaczynski family very affectionately. In any event, experts believe a run-off vote is now inevitable.
Bronislaw Komorowski is believed to be the best candidate in Russia's eyes. "He has always tried to avoid conflict and seriously intends to pursue pragmatic relations with Moscow," says Lykoshina. "In addition, he is in the same party (Civil Platform) as Putin's friend Donald Tusk." Nikolai Bukharin, an expert on Poland at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Economics Institute, believes that with Komarowski at the helm, Poland could become Russia's reliable partner in the European Union.
At the same time, in his campaign Jaroslaw Kaczynski has also called for friendship with Moscow and promised to seek compromise on all issues. He even promised to make one of his first official visits to Russia, if he wins the presidency. "These statements stunned everyone in Poland. After all, Kaczynski was a vocal critic of the Kremlin just six months ago," says Larisa Lykoshina from the Institute for Scientific Information.
"Apparently, Moscow's behavior in the wake of the Smolensk tragedy has had a profound effect on him." But politicians do not tend to change their beliefs so quickly, and Jaroslaw Kaczynski may, in the future, have some unpleasant surprises up his sleeve, warns the expert. Currently, most Poles are well disposed toward Russia, and therefore, whoever becomes the new president, will have to reckon with the sentiments of ordinary people and build constructive relations with Moscow, says Lubov Shishelina, an expert from the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Moscow film festival opens with little pomp and ceremony
The Moscow International Film Festival was one of the most popular search queries typed into Google.ru on Thursday. France and French movies dominate the festival: with French movies to open and close the event and Luc Besson chairing the jury. The festival's honorary award will be given to Claude Lelouch. The festival features only one Russian movie.
The opening ceremony took place on Thursday in the Pushkinsky cinema. This year it opened without pomp, and critics do not expect that much from it. The international festival's opening in Moscow passed almost unnoticed, said Rossiiskaya Gazeta reviewer Valery Kichin. "This year's festival was not presented in Cannes, as usual, which is significant," Kichin told the radio station Business FM. "I watched one of the festival's films at a press screening. The film was shown in Turkish with Russian subtitles. It had not even occurred to them [the festival organizers] that international reporters, who know neither Russian nor Turkish, might be present, immediately making the festival feel provincial."
Program Director for the festival Kirill Razlogov assured Business FM that it was set to be a mass event, saying that a festival's appeal depends on whether or not it is broadcast on a major TV channel. "The opening ceremony will be in the Pushkinsky cinema, as usual," he said. "There will be a carpet of some color there, as usual, but the weather's not going to be great, I believe, so ladies attending in evening gowns will be quite chilly."
There are seventeen movies in the festival's main program. It opened with "Ces amours-la" directed by Claude Lelouch, who also directed the famous 1966 movie "Un homme et une femme" (A Man and a Woman), both movies starring Anouk Aimee. Lelouch will be given the festival's honorary award "For outstanding contribution to the world cinematography."
The festival will close with "Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec" (The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec), another French film directed by Luc Besson, who this year chairs the festival's jury. Kirill Razlogov explains the emphasis on France in the festival by the fact that 2010 is the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in Russia.
The festival will feature films produced in Germany, Venezuela, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Austria, South Korea and France and only one film produced in Russia: Filmmaker Yuri Shiller will present his movie "Vorobei" (The Sparrow).
Russia to be flooded with spam
Spam has made the .ru the world's most dangerous domain name, according to Symantec's latest report. In May alone, there was a 50% increase in the amount of spam on the Russian Internet, totaling 34.1% of all messages. The reasons for this increase and what should be done to fight cyber crime are described by deputy general director of the Group-IB information security group, Alexander Pisemsky, in an interview with Vzglyad.
The amount of spam has risen recently, he said. Detailed statistics are difficult to find, but, judging from users' complaints, it has increased considerably.
Much of this spam is connected with fraudulent attempts to cash in on political and public events, such as the World Cup or improved relations between Russia and Belarus, and Russia and Ukraine.
Spam is intended first to attract users to viral resources so their computers are later infected. Current events are used as bait. A high-profile event is the simplest way to catch public attention. Profit is the ultimate goal. So spam is used, first, as an advertising medium, and second, as a tool for spreading malware which draws users into its network and, using their personal data, carries out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks by spreading spam.
There is no fundamental difference between spam in Russia and spam in other countries. Perhaps the United States has more spam about pharmaceuticals and their promotion, while Russian spam is more concerned with providing services.
The spam market has always been profitable in Russia and will remain so. Costs are minimal while the effect is huge, especially in terms of spreading infection. Spam aims to distribute viral software that will then serve as a platform for further illegal action.
So the amount of spam will continue to grow, as new market players appear, all eager to profit from this business.
Spam distribution is unlawful and the state must take concerted action to fight it. But those involved in this activity do not feel any responsibility and get off scot-free. Gaps in legislation only facilitate this. There are just three articles of the criminal code on cyber crime, all of them date back to the 1990s and fail to cover most of today's offences.
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MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti)