An Angolan delegation led by President Joao Lourenco has arrived in Moscow for a four-day visit. Although this is the Angolan leader’s first visit to Russia in this capacity, he does have first-hand knowledge about the Russian capital, since he studied at the Military-Political Academy here in 1978-1982. While attending the Russia-Angola business forum on Wednesday, Lourenco assured Kommersant that the two countries were close spiritually in many areas, not only in international politics. He informed the paper that representatives of both countries’ specialized agencies would sign six cooperation agreements in various areas in the presence of both presidents on Thursday.
Angola is a priority area of Russia’s cooperation in Africa, says Sergei Nenashev, a senior research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for African Studies. “To begin with, that was the case since the time when Angola fought for its independence. Secondly, this is due to Angola’s huge economic potential,” explained Nenashev who served as Russia’s Ambassador to Angola in 2007-2012.
“Now the country lives off oil, gas and, partially, diamonds. On the other hand, Angola has vast resources. It used to produce up to 200,000 tonnes of coffee per year at some point. Today, Russia and Angola maintain ties in all areas of interstate relations, including culture, education, personnel training, military-technical, financial and economic cooperation,” the expert stressed.
Military-technical cooperation has long been a priority area in bilateral ties, with the Soviet Union beginning to supply weapons for guerilla units back in the 1960s, Andrei Tokarev, Head of the Center for Southern African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the paper.
“However, with the fall of the apartheid regime in neighboring South Africa in 1994 and the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola has no official potential enemies, so the need for arms supplies has dwindled. In recent years, Angola’s leadership has had plans to turn the country into a base to repair Soviet equipment for African countries. For its part, South Africa had similar ideas as well. One cannot rule out that the proposal to both purchase and produce weapons is an attempt to outmaneuver South Africa, but the local industry is not yet ready to manufacture its own military equipment,” the expert explained.
Although the Skripal saga has poisoned the atmosphere of dialogue between Moscow and London, the scandal has not killed cooperation between Russia and the UK on arms control, cyber security and fighting crime and terrorism, RBC writes citing a report on the prospects for bilateral cooperation prepared by the two countries’ leading think tanks, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) focusing on international defense and security.
The experts pointed out, in particular, that Russia and the US could discuss the parameters of an accord that would replace the INF Treaty. Some of them proposed not to ban medium-and shorter-range missiles altogether, establishing a limit for the number instead.
To date, the principal factor hindering arms control cooperation between Russia and Europe has been the EU’s reluctance to maintain dialogue with Moscow that would not involve the US, the paper quotes Andrei Baklitsky, an expert with the PIR Center, as saying. “European countries, especially Britain, fear that Russia’s initiatives will drive a wedge between Europe and the US and erode the basic principles of the transatlantic alliance,” he stressed.
On the other hand, Alexander Mamaev, a RIAC expert and Director General of the Digital Forensic Laboratory, believes that sharing experience in cyber security between countries and private companies is essential. According to the expert, the methods used by hackers against banks or corporations in one country are repeated during other cyberattacks. “Many companies and countries are actively collecting attack signatures, analyzing virus codes, and skimming through hacker forums on the darknet in order to create databases on cybercriminals, so that they can learn about future attacks in advance and warn potential victims,” he explained.
Leaders of the Hamas Palestinian group are seeking to reestablish ties with the Shia “Axis of Resistance”, which had weakened during the civil war in Syria, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes citing remarks by a high-ranking Iranian official. He told Al-Monitor that the Islamist organization that runs the Gaza Strip is pursuing a return to the previous level of relations.
The Syrian government is the only party of the Axis of Resistance that does not back the idea of returning to the previous level of relationship with Hamas. Iran currently acts as a diplomatic mediator between Damascus and the Palestinian organization.
Relations between the Shia Axis of Resistance and the Sunni group were damaged substantially after Hamas banked on the Syrian opposition infuriating Damascus and its allies. The group began ironing out relations after the change of its leadership in 2017.
Hamas is facing a specific dilemma under these circumstances, says Grigory Lukyanov, a senior lecturer with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Higher School of Economics’ School of Political Science.
“In the past, all of Hamas’ political ascents stemmed from its military activities. The harsher its rhetoric, the more noticeable the group was, the more actors were willing to view it as an independent participant in the political process. On the other hand, one needs to realize that today Hamas no longer has much room for maneuver, both in Palestine and in the international arena. Egypt has adopted an anti-Hamas approach, while Syria and Iran do not provide the support they used to in the past. Hamas has no serious allies, and that’s a problem for it too,” the expert pointed out.
According to Lukyanov, the group’s leaders were left face to face with other Palestinian groups, so Hamas has a choice, that is, either mend relations with Syria and Iran or continue peace talks with Israel.
Serbia needs more assistance from Russia, prominent Serbian film director and musician Emir Kusturica told Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “We need both moral and economic support. I told [Russian President] Vladimir Putin about that when I met him in Belgrade on January 17,” he said, adding that politics have affected every Serbian family one way or another, because nearly all revolutions and wars in Europe that have taken place since the 19th century have not spared the Serbs.
When asked to comment on the recent protests in Belgrade, Kusturica stressed that people “heard promises of reforms from politicians many times, but little has changed for the better.” “They want positive changes right now. Many are outraged by our liberal market economy, the growing gap between the rich and poor, corruption and media censorship,” he emphasized.
The Serbian filmmaker also pointed to the Kosovo crisis. “Kosovo is Serbia’s spiritual and material heritage. Our holy sites and tangible material investment are likewise connected with Kosovo. There are many enterprises, which we built, and water resources that we developed. People fear that unscrupulous politicians will surrender Kosovo under Western pressure and recognize Kosovo Albanians’ right to have an independent state. That’s another reason for protests,” he went on to say.
Kusturica also noted that there is rising protest sentiment throughout the Balkans, including Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania. “No one feels happy, perhaps, with the exception of people in Slovenia, because they have high wages and pensions. It is a small Catholic country, which rapidly adapted itself to the new realities,” he explained.
Referring to the prospects for the European Union, the Serbian film director noted there were numerous factors, including the factor of Russia. “If Siberian resources go to Europe, it has pretty good chances of preserving its unity and stability. Now Putin is laying gas and oil pipelines here, thus tackling both Russia’s issues and European problems and, which is probably the most important thing, strengthening confidence between the East and the West and eliminating the danger of hostility. This is a mutually beneficial process,” he stressed.
Russian online personnel recruiting services could attract $150 mln of investment in 2019, triple that of last year, Kommersant writes citing data provided by the TalentTech company. However, this segment’s revenue will not grow that fast in the coming years, about 13% per year.
TalentTech CEO Andrei Mityukov forecasts the most intense growth in the temporary job market for the long term. “Large companies are already studying mass specialty markets and are investing in them. Therefore, one should expect an upsurge of high-tech solutions to look for employees who can literally start working tomorrow,” he said, citing as an example the purchase of a group of businesses managing the Rabota.ru online service by Sberbank.
However, the market participants interviewed by Kommersant are skeptical about TalentHead’s data. “It is quite problematic to agree with the estimates of the study due to the contradictory and sometimes inaccurate data. The major problem is that TalentTech researchers compare the number of vacancies on recruitment websites and recruitment agencies’ revenues during different periods of time,” the paper quotes Tatiana Baskina, Deputy General Manager of the Ancor personnel company, as saying.
“With all due respect for TalentHead, the experts who put together the report have no sufficient skills to duly assess Avito’s role and the degree of its influence in the HR segment. The company is growing three times faster than the online recruitment market. With an average figure of 8-9% per year, it shows dynamics within 30%,” says Avito’s PR Director Andrei Barkovsky.
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