16 July 2014, 17:21

Russia may forgo buying imported medical hardware

Russia may forgo buying imported medical hardware

Russia may forgo using imported medical hardware, First subway accident theories voiced, EU to introduce stricter visa regulations, Kremlin seeks research on foreign electoral systems, Deal to end Afghan election crisis in trouble, Israel resumes air strikes. These issues in Voice of Russia's daily Press Review.

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Moskovskiy Komsomolets reports that rumors of Russian authorities planning to ban state-run clinics from purchasing foreign-made medical hardware has spawned public discussions and backlash. The official position is protection of the domestic market and safeguarding national security; however, the newspaper reminds that up to 80% of medical equitpmen used by Russian clinics is imported. According to the daily, the idea of import substitution in healthcare has also spawned discussions in the medical community. For example, Renat Akchurin, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Deputy Surgery Director of the Russian Cardiologic Research and Production Complex, said: "If we’re talking about buying only foreign hardware which is competitive, it’s beneficial for Russia as it means development of domestic engineering, instrument and suture material manufacturing. So if we’re talking about healthcare, I think it’s the right solution." He added that Russian manufactures can’t often win procurement auctions as foreign companies often have a very strong lobby. Other experts interviewed by the daily are not as optimistic and admit that Russia still lags behind in certain areas of medical hardware.

 

One of the primary theories for the July 15 subway tragedy is a railway switch failure, Izvestia writes. On Tuesday one of the trains of the Moscow Metro has derailed, claiming at least 21 lives and injuring over 160 passengers. One of the train cars was split in two; the tunnel was blocked and surviving passengers had to walk to the closes subway station through the tunnels. Moscow’s Investigative Committee and the Prosecution are now working to find the cause of the accident; guilty parties will be held criminally liable. Other theories include technical and human errors. The most likely theory is that a power surge led to the switch changing position while the train was moving above it – this mechanical failure has sent fast-moving train cars off the tracks. Another theory suggests a fire alarm triggered local power outage, which, coupled with the train braking in the tunnel, derailed three cars. Machinist Vasiliy Trankov told the newspaper that power outage is unlikely to cause such a reaction, saying that a train cannot stop in its tracks so suddenly, adding that the damage to the train suggests the switch triggered under the first car.

 

Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports that the European Union is looking to change the regulations for processing visa applications. For instance, in order to be considered for Shengen visa applicants will have to have all of their fingerprints recorded; presumably new procedures will increase processing time and raise costs associated with travel to the EU. The newspaper talked with Irina Tyurina, who said that it would be a good idea to inform tour operators at least a year ahead of the new procedure. "Tourism business operating with EU destinations needs to know the rules when planning programs for the next season. It’s likely the tourist flow [from Russia] will decline, thus companies need to cut down on reservations to minimize losses." The article notes that if new rules are implemented without a warning, it’s likely that tour operator losses will be recovered by a tour price increase across the board. Experts believe that eventually this may translate into losses for the EU itself – a sudden drop in visitors may collapse the region’s tourism industry.

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The Department of Presidential Affairs has announced a tender for research on the electoral systems of foreign countries in a potential bid to reform Russia's own electoral system, The Moscow Times reports. According to the tender documentation, the president's advisers on domestic policy are interested in themes including the practice of limiting citizens' right to elect and to be elected "within the framework of democratic norms," various electoral systems and practices for uniting electoral blocs and international practice in regulating the activities of election monitors and campaigners. The Kremlin is also reportedly seeking research on the influence of regional election laws on municipal governments, as well as on international practices in dividing authority between municipal and regional administrations. The newspaper reminds that this is not the first time the Kremlin has demonstrated an interest in research on electoral systems. The Kommersant newspaper reported in early June that the Department of Presidential Affairs had offered 46 million rubles ($1.3 million) for 36 different scientific studies on various aspects of electoral systems.

 

The Washington Post reports that just days after US Secretary of State John Kerry brokered a deal to resolve Afghanistan’s election crisis, it has run into trouble because of disagreements among the two rival presidential candidates. The newspaper explains that the agreement to recount the votes and form a national unity government was intended to resolve a weeks-long impasse that had threatened to split the country. However, implementation of the deal has been held up by confusion over whether Afghan or international institutions will lead the inspection of the 8.1 million votes cast in a June 14 runoff that was marred by fraud. For instance, the campaign of former foreign minister Abdullah - who last month accused the Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission of helping rig the vote - said it was promised that international bodies would take charge of the audit. The team of the opposing candidate - former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani - says no such stipulation was included in the deal. According to Afghan law, the IEC is required to carry out the audit.

 

The Guardian reports that the military conflict in Gaza has continued into Wednesday following a six-hour respite in which Israel halted its aerial bombardment of the coastal enclave after accepting an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. Hamas rejected the plan, continuing its rocket fire throughout the day and killing an Israeli citizen at the Erez border crossing, the first Israeli fatality of the conflict. The dead man was understood to be a civilian volunteer delivering food donations to soldiers in the area, the daily notes, adding that an Israeli soldier was also lightly wounded. Meanwhile, Attacks in the early hours of Wednesday killed at least seven Palestinians, Gaza health officials said, and destroyed the house of Mahmoud Zahar – believed to be in hiding elsewhere – in the first apparent targeting of a top Hamas political leader. The Israeli military said on Wednesday that it had sent out warning messages to residents in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes by 8am ahead of renewed attacks. The Palestinians' Gaza interior ministry told people not to heed the messages and dismissed them as psychological warfare.

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