MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti)
Russian Telecom Regulator Restricts Access to Child Porn
A new Internet restriction law came into force on November 1, creating a full list of websites containing child pornography, how-to-commit suicide instructions and drug propaganda. Only, no one will be able to access them because it’s a black list.
The list of websites containing forbidden content will be managed by state telecom regulator Roskomnadzor. Users will be able to check if a website is on that list at www.zapret-info.gov.ru, but they won’t be able to view it.
The website has a feedback service where users can file complaints, specifying the URL of an offending page and describing its content as well as disclosing a screenshot.
Websites can be put on the list following orders from the Interior Ministry, the drug control service, the consumer protection watchdog or the telecoms regulator. Court orders have the same force. Roskomnadzor, which will manage the list, will also be able to hire a third party.
The register of websites offering content that is forbidden in Russia has been created under a law On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development, passed in 2010 and amended in July 2012.
The restriction primarily targets child porn, as well as suicide manuals and instructions on how to manufacture drugs. Under the law, the government can force websites, website-hosting companies and Internet service providers to block offending sites before trial. In cases when other banned information is posted, a court ruling is needed to close the site.
The law provides for blocking both the offending website’s URL and IP address. However, Internet experts are concerned that blocking an IP address will also make law-abiding resources using the same address inaccessible.
A website offering forbidden content is to be closed down within six days of a complaint: one day for Roskomnadzor or another operator to forward the complaint to a relevant law-enforcement agency, one day for that agency to consider it and respond to the operator and three more days for the resource owners to remove the offending content or for the hosting provider to block the page.
If the content is still accessible to users after six days, telecoms operators are given one more day to block the website. However, if the forbidden content is removed, the website will be taken off the black list.
Russia Slides Into Economic Stagnation
Russia’s economy is likely to stop growing in 2012, say experts from the Higher School of Economics (HSE). They offer four options: increase government spending and hence a budget deficit; redirect military spending into infrastructure development; build more roads; and improve the institutional environment. But it would take a Herculean effort to reverse the negative trend, as capital flight has reached $90 billion.
The HSE experts say quarterly GDP growth has been slowing since the middle of 2011. Only mining and commodity-related industries report strong growth, while the much more important high-tech industries are declining sharply (machine and equipment manufacturing), falling (transport vehicle production) or stagnating (electrical equipment).
Investment in the Russian economy has been decreasing due to an unfavorable investment climate and sluggish demand, while capital flight has reached $90 billion and is growing.
HSE Director for Macroeconomic Research Sergei Aleksashenko is skeptical about Russia’s midterm macroeconomic outlook. He has no clear vision of how to improve the dramatic economic situation. “Investment is not increasing, and no economy can grow without financial input,” he said.
HSE Development Center researcher Nikolai Kondrashov said: “The first thing to do is to improve the institutional environment, which would boost the average GDP growth rate by at least 0.31 percentage points in 2013-2020. Investment in transport infrastructure would add 0.16 pp to the GDP growth rate. The third measure is to increase the budget deficit by 1 percent of GDP to finance public investment. This will increase the GDP growth rate by 13 pp. And lastly, cutting military spending by 1 percent of GDP would release funds for investment in infrastructure and add 0.10 pp to the GDP growth rate.”
However, experts doubt that the authorities will agree to launch institutional reforms or cut defense spending, and hence Russia’s economic outlook is gloomy.
Igor Nikolayev, director of strategic analysis at private audit company FBK, said that investment in transport infrastructure has the biggest multiplier effect, but there is no political will to increase it. “Another issue is to invest people’s savings wisely; they come to over 10 trillion rubles (approx. $320 billion). I believe that these funds should be invested in individual construction, provided the government builds roads and gas and electricity infrastructure.” This would bolster domestic demand for related commodities, he said.
InvestCafe analyst Andrei Sakharov believes that internal financial reserves such as sovereign funds should be invested in development. “The Reserve Fund exceeds $61 billion and the National Wealth Fund $87 billion,” he said. “Part of this money could be invested in infrastructure projects to dampen the negative effect of inflation. We should also encourage foreign investment by strengthening the institution of private property and the judicial system.”
Russia’s economic growth also depends on resolving Europe’s debt crisis and preserving the euro zone, Sakharov added.
Nikolayev said that Russia’s economic growth will come to a standstill this year and even fall by 2 percent. Sakharov argues that Russia’s GDP will grow by at least 4 percent in 2012.
Russia Set to Resume Grain Exports to China
Russian trade representative in China Sergei Tsyplakov has gone on record as saying that Russia and the People’s Republic of China are about to agree terms on lifting China’s 1997 ban on grain deliveries from Russia. A bilateral agreement could be signed by the end of 2012, which would pave the way for the resumption of grain exports in 2013.
The Chinese ban resulted from the discovery that Russia and a number of other countries were supplying infected grain that was unfit for consumption. According to Tsyplakov, “the grain we are ready to supply today is sound; infected stuff is not to be exported.”
China’s grain requirements are a result of shifts in the national diet. The Chinese are consuming more meat, which is leading to a decrease in the amount of arable land. Chinese experts claim that the trend for increased grain purchases is a long-term one. China currently buys about 2 million tonnes of grain per year from Canada and the U.S.A., and this figure is rising.
“China has a stake in diversifying its supply sources, while Russia, in turn, is willing to come to the Chinese market. The main thing for now is to break the ice and launch deliveries,” said Tsyplakov.
However, Dmitry Rylko from the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies is skeptical: “It would be realistic to reach an export level of several hundred tons of wheat within the next few years. What prevents us from trading with China is not not so much a lack of agreements as the huge transport costs and the generally low level of Chinese wheat imports.”
Finam analyst Maxim Klyagin agrees with Rylko that the main constraining factor is the capacity of Russian railways. At most, Russia can hope to export about 25 million tons per year in the mid-term, which is between 5 and 10 percent of total exports. But generally there are prospects for growth in the Eastern segment, which might benefit regions in the Northwestern and Urals Federal Districts.
RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: North Pole: Living on the Top of the World
Infographics: Powerful Ship-Borne Laser System
Cartoons: Polar Explorer Day
The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.