Media Roundup: The 2015 BRICS and SCO Summits, the patriotic stop list, and China’s stock market crash were in the spotlight of the Russian media.
Chinese president Xi Jinping takes part in a traditional bread and salt ceremony upon his arrival before attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS summits in Ufa, Russia on July 8, 2015. Photo: Reuters
The joint BRICS and SCO summit held in Ufa, Russia was certainly the main event of the week, and led to active discussions in the Russian media. In addition, the Russian media considered the potential implications of the new “patriotic stop list,” which could have a chilling effect on the role of Western NGOs in Russian society.
The SCO and BRICS Summits in Ufa
Last week, a combined summit of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) was held in Ufa, Russia. In addition to representatives of member states of these organizations, in attendance and taking part in the program of activities were countries with observer status, as well as candidates for membership in the SCO and BRICS.
The pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta positively assessed the results of meetings of the SCO and BRICS leaders. In particular, the publication noted the expanded economic partnership program within the framework of the BRICS, and the beginning of the procedure for SCO expansion – the admission of India and Pakistan.
The business publication Vedomosti wrote that there were no breakthrough agreements reached within the framework of the BRICS, but no one really expected this, after last year’s very productive meeting of the group in Brazil (where agreements were reached on joint reserve funds). The publication notes that Russia is trying to push members of the BRICS and SCO towards a sharper confrontation with the West; however, the vast majority of participants are not interested in this.
The tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets is skeptical about the results of meetings within the framework of the SCO, pointing to the early departures of several delegations, including those from Iran and Kyrgyzstan.
The opposition Novaya Gazeta believes that the recent summits in Ufa demonstrate the geopolitical and economic victory of China as the strongest member of the BRICS and the SCO. The author assigns Russia a secondary role, indicating clearly the unequal potential of the country.
The independent Slon also devoted considerable attention to the issues discussed at the summits, in particular, commenting on the format of the BRICS, which the publication considers as unpromising. The problem is that the BRICS countries are not bound by anything, except for declarative statements, and for Russia to expect support from BRICS partner countries in the international arena is simply pointless.
Read also: The BRICS and the West: Partners or rivals?
Greece and the EU
After Greece voted in a referendum on July 5 against the adoption of creditors’ conditions, complex negotiations began last week between the troika of EU creditors and the Greek government.
It seems that by the end of the week, the parties had managed to reach some sort of compromise; at least, Greece had agreed to carry out a series of reforms. The business publication Kommersant wrote that, in the end, Greece was making even more concessions than originally anticipated by the creditors, and that the “left” government of Greece will have a very difficult time explaining this to voters.
The Echo of Moscow radio station considers that, regardless of the agreement that is reached by the parties, the entire EU economy will suffer, and in particular, that of Germany, which holds much of the debts of its euro zone colleagues.
Moskovsky Komsomolets writes about the split in the ranks of the Greek elite, and that an agreement with creditors could lead to unrest in the increasingly volatile Greek society.
Debate over the “patriotic stop list”
A lot of noise was made in the Russian press concerning the so-called “patriotic stop list” – or list of organizations and individuals who are believed to be working on undermining the constitutional order of Russia. The “stop list” was approved by the Russian parliament before it closed for the summer holidays, and includes a variety of non-governmental organizations and individuals.
The Echo of Moscow writes about the “stop list” caustically and ironically, offering as an additional measure, to also abolish the parliament and all other bodies of authority, leaving only the presidential administration, which is the very place “all these laws are invented.”
The business newspaper Vedomosti talks about Russian civil society being dragged into an endless and unwinnable conflict with government authorities over the activities of NGOs. According to the newspaper, the idea of the Russian authorities has succeeded – all the energy of NGOs will now be directed not at their statutory activities, but at the struggle for survival.
The opposition Novaya Gazeta notes the too vague wording of the Law “On Undesirable Organizations,” allowing the authorities to add anyone to such “stop lists.” That is why this list now contains the names of scientific and volunteer organizations, which have been peacefully working in Russia for many years already.
A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Thursday, July 9, 2015. Photo: AP
Problems in the Chinese stock market
Last week, many were surprised by the collapse of prices on China’s main stock exchange. The Chinese authorities reacted nervously, which forced many of the major players in the Chinese market to quickly change their plans (as a result, it is estimated the Chinese stock market lost about $3.2 trillion in just a few days).
The independent Slon pointed to a “financial bubble” that existed on the Chinese market, which finally burst, mainly because the stock exchange was developing at too fast a pace (in fact, the Chinese market “fulfilled its 5-year plan in just a year,” the newspaper noted). The consequences of this will have an impact on the entire global economy; however, we should not expect a catastrophe.
The opposition Novaya Gazeta believes that this is the first clear sign of an economic slowdown in China, which will become more and more pronounced in the near future. The publication stresses that the stagnation in the Chinese economy will cause suffering among all significant actors in the world economy, and in particular, Russia, which will gradually decrease the amount of raw materials it exports to China.
The pro-government Rossiyskaya Gazeta calms its readers and quotes Russian President Vladimir Putin, who considers the drop in the stock market in China to be a temporary phenomenon.
Quotes of the week:
Vladimir Putin on the importance of the SCO and BRICS: “Each of these countries has its own development path, its own economic growth model, its own rich history, and culture. It is in this diversity, in the joining of traditions, of course, wherein lies the power, the enormous potential of BRICS, and the SCO.”
Fyodor Lukyanov on the BRICS and SCO Summits: “All, except Russia, are doing everything possible to avoid harsh words – they simply do not need this. They approve criticism of the West, because of its unwillingness to share power, but are not ready to openly join in the fray.”
Valentina Matvienko on the “stop list”: “Foreign organizations do put pressure on the values and institutions of Russia... From the experience of other countries, we see that their activities are aimed at destabilizing the political situation and bringing foreign states into submission.”
Opposition leader Alexey Navalny on the “stop list”: “An excellent, accurate, and effective blow by Putin patriots. Right into the nest of these hostile vipers – the young physicists, mathematicians and molecular biologists. They need to know their place.”
Vladimir Putin on the fall of the Chinese stock market: “With regard to China and its stock markets, we talked about this with the President of China. The Chinese leadership is extremely calm about this. I agree with the Chinese estimates, which are based on the fact that recently the “bulls” have been playing too confidently, perhaps even over-confidently, and some downward correction took place.”