Press Digest: Kiev hawks and Donbass rebels criticize constitutional reforms

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he speaks to lawmakers during a parliament session in Kiev, July 16, 2015. Source: AP

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he speaks to lawmakers during a parliament session in Kiev, July 16, 2015. Source: AP

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on the reaction in Ukraine to a draft for constitutional amendments on special status for the Donbass region in the east of the country, and state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s proposal to build a data center for Google and Facebook near Moscow, as well as analysis of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russian students are being ‘sucked’ out of the country by foreign foundations.

Ukrainian parliament passes draft for amendments to constitution amid criticism

The business daily Kommersant writes that Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has passed President Petro Poroshenko's revised draft of constitutional amendments that establish within basic law a reference to a special law "On the special order of local self-rule in the separate regions of Donetsk and Lugansk."

Despite the fact that the essence of "the specialness" of the status of the Donbass will not be written into the constitution (it will only have a reference to the corresponding law), the president's critics have accused him of making concessions to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk “people’s republics” (DNR and LNR) under pressure from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is currently visiting Kiev.

Moreover, the governments of the DNR and LNR have also called the initiative "an imitation" and demanded that Ukraine include detailed wording of their special status in the constitution.

Professor Alexander Guschin of the Russian State University for the Humanities believes that the initiative is a starting point for compromise between the U.S. and Russia on Ukraine.

"The proposed amendment in the constitution is the highest form of legitimizing the regions' autonomy, even though what this autonomy actually means will be the subject of future negotiations," said Guschin. In his view, the pressure that Washington had put on Ukraine is related to the activation of dialogue with Russia, which was stimulated by the nuclear agreement on Iran.


Rosatom offers to build data center for Google and Facebook

The daily broadsheet Izvestia reports that Russia is ready to present foreign companies with all the necessary conditions for transferring personal data on Russian citizens to Russian territory. The state Rosatom Corporation is offering Facebook and Google a site in the Tver Region (north of Moscow) next to the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant. The data center project is already in the building phase.

Director of Rosatom's Communications Department Sergei Novikov told Izvestia that the corporation is offering IT companies a site next to the nuclear power plant. "Being near an energy source… the company can reduce its expenses and is guaranteed energy," Novikov explained.

Izvestia reminds its readers that at the end of 2014 the State Duma, after a third reading, passed a law on keeping personal data on Russian territory. The law should go into effect on Sept. 1, 2015. However, the companies themselves are in no rush to follow the Russian law, lobbying through the Association of European Business to postpone the law, which imposes punishment for those who do not abide by it, for a year.

"From the moment the law goes into effect companies still have another year to adjust their businesses in accordance with Russian legislature," said a source from the Duma. "But no one has the right to change or freeze the law. All conditions are met."


Putin: Russian students are being ‘sucked out of Russia’

Liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta tries to make sense of comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Russians studying abroad. According to Putin, talented Russian students are "put on grants," "so-called foreign foundations" and "are sucked out of Russia as if with a vacuum cleaner." Such were the expressions that the Russian leader used at the end of June when calling on Russia's Council on Science and Education to examine the work of foreign foundations. However, according to Novaya Gazeta, the head of state is poorly informed.

"The specialists who are studying this issue know only three programs that actively award grants to Russian students to temporarily study abroad," says Isak Frumin, scientific director at the Higher School of Economics Education Institute. "This is the American [organization] FLEX, which was recently closed on Russia's initiative, a Turkish program based on lycées, and an Israeli program." Frumin underlined that "none of these programs aims to look for and take highly gifted students out of Russia."

The publication writes there is certainly a battle for talent going on in the world today. Russia itself has launched the Global Education program, which was included in Presidential Decree #967 "On the measures for strengthening the personnel potential in the Russian Federation" (December 2013). It plans to finance the education of at least 1,500 students in leading world universities, but only with respect to graduate degrees, master's degrees and residency. 

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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