The government's session dedicated to the final discussion of next year's budget was largely optimistic – Russian officials believe that the sanctions will be lifted within a year; this means that by that time the Ukrainian crisis is settled.
Kiev and Donetsk People's Republic exchanged prisoners of war, Kommersant writes. A total of 76 POW have been released by both sides – both sides released 38 prisoners each, the daily notes. According to the newspaper, one of the militia fighters released by the Ukrianian army was a Israeli citizen, who explained his participation as “coming here to protect the people's freedom.” The daily notes that “everyone for everyone” POW exchange was one of the articles of the agreement reached in Minsk September 5, as a roadmap for political regulation of the crisis in Ukraine's south east region. The first prisoner exchange happened September 12, which did not go without hiccups – although militia of the Donetsk People's Republic gave up 36 prisoners, the Ukrainian army provided only 31 imprisoned militiamen in exchange. At the time, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko said that the militia had over 500 POW, who “laid their hands on weapons.” Moreover, the lawyers of the Ukrainian lieutenant Nadezhda Savchenko, accused of being accessory to murder of Russian journalists, claim that she was detained by militia, not Russian policemen in Voronezh – that way she would be exchanged under the “everyone for everyone” rule.
RBC Daily reviews the Russian budget for 2015 in the context of the Ukrainian situation. The newspaper notes that the project for next year's budget has been created with the expectation of anti-Russian sanctions to be lifted by the 2015. The daily notes that on the government's session dedicated to the final discussion of next year's budget was largely optimistic – Russian officials believe that the sanctions will be lifted within a year; this means that by that time the Ukrainian crisis is settled. Meanwhile, the article notes that cutbacks on salary growth, pensions and other investments will be made until political resolution of the crisis is reached. The newspaper notes that prior to the government session, the budjet project along with macroeconomic forecast which served as the basis for the project weer discussed with Russia's President Vladimir Putin; details of the discussion with the president remained secret until the White House meeting, where Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev said that quote “assumption that new sanction regimes are not imposed and existing sanctions run out in 2015 served as the basis for budget calculations.”
Rossiyskaya Gazeta has published an interview with Sergei Ivanov, head of Russia's Presidential Administration. The spokesman answered numerous questions regarding the future of Russian policy and the general geopolitical situation vis-a-vis the Ukrainian crisis. The spokesman reminded that the crisis stemmed out of the decision made by the ousted president Victor Yanukovich, who proposed postponing signing of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. Ivanov highlighted, that there was no refusal, only delay, as the Ukrainian official understood the gravity of signing the agreement and its likely detrimental effect of the country's economy. This sparked the “Maidan” protest, which gained massive support of western countries; this transformed into the bloody war in Ukraine's south east, which took lives of thousands of people. As for the association agreement – its implementation was postponed for a year, the official noted, suggesting that all the bloodshed was in vain.
Kurdish fighters from Turkey and Iraq are scrambling to help defend a Kurdish safe haven in northern Syria, where tens of thousands ofKurds have fled after an offensive by Islamic State (Isis) militants, The Guardian writes. The daily reminds that the border region of Kobani, home to half a million people, has held out for months against an onslaught by Islamists seeking to consolidate their hold over territories of northern Syria. But in recent days, Isis extremists have seized a series of settlements close to the town of Kobani itself, sending as many as 100,000 mostly Kurdish refugees across the border into Turkey. A Kurdish politician from Turkey on Saturday said locals told him Isis fighters were beheading people as they went from village to village. The Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), a rebel group that has spent three decades fighting for autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, once again issued a call for the youth of Turkey's mostly Kurdish south-east to rise up and rush to save the Kurds. “Supporting this heroic resistance is not just a debt of honor of the Kurds but all Middle East people. Just giving support is not enough, the criterion must be taking part in the resistance.”
The Washington Post has an article on the present and future of Scottish politics in the wake of the independence referendum. After the majority of the population refused to break away from the United Kingdom, Scots will have to try to perform the far less glamorous work of translating the sudden interest in politics into meaningful improvement in people’s lives. The article highlights that although 55 percent of the population voted to stick with the United Kingdom rather than go it alone, the result was hardly an endorsement of the status quo, with surveys showing widespread dissatisfaction with the way Scotland is governed. Such disillusionment often leads to apathy, the article suggests. Although the two-year independence debate provoked passion and occasional accusations of bullying by both sides, it was remarkably peaceful for a campaign with such far-reaching stakes. Now Scots will be challenged to sustain their interest in the politics and governance, the newspaper notes.
The Moscow Times reports that St. Petersburg, Russia's 'northern capital,' has been selected as one of the thirteen host cities for the Euro 2020.St. Russia's second largest city will host a quarterfinal and three group stage matches at the Zenit Arena, a 67,000-seat stadium currently being built ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The newspaper reminds that some Western politicians have called for Russia to be stripped of the right to host the 2018 World Cup and other large sporting events, a notion that football authorities have persistently rejected. UEFA president Michel Platini said "Football is football, and politics are politics. I don't see why St. Petersburg should not have been able to contend to host Euro 2020 matches." The daily reminds that in honor of the tournament's 60th anniversary, UEFA decided in 2012 that the 2020 European Championship would be held in several European countries instead of the usual one or two host nations.