Press Digest: Putin will discuss gay rights with me, says Elton John

Singer Elton John. Source: Reuters

Singer Elton John. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on Elton John’s claim that he is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss gay rights, a humanitarian loophole in EU sanctions on Russian individuals, and the potential meeting between Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama at the UN 70th anniversary session on Sept. 15.

Elton John anticipates ‘meeting’ with Putin after ‘telephone call’

The Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid newspaper writes that singer Elton John stated in the evening of Sept. 14 that he had held a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Thank you to President Vladimir Putin for reaching out and speaking via telephone with me today. I look forward to meeting with you face-to-face to discuss LGBT equality in Russia," the British musician wrote on his official Instagram page.

The 68-year-old singer-songwriter's name has been appearing in political news very often lately. First, Sir Elton John, while speaking at the Yalta European Strategy Forum in Kiev, recommended Kiev to join the gay community, and by doing so building a "democratic society." Afterwards he met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to personally speak with the head of the government about the country's "tolerance" issues.

During the forum in Kiev, Elton John also gave an interview to the BBC, in which he expressed his desire to meet with Vladimir Putin and discuss gay rights.

However, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Sept. 15 that the Kremlin “had not received any requests from English musician Elton John” to meet with the head of the government and said that reports about this meeting could be only insinuations.

"We know about this only from mass media reports and have not received any messages from Sir Elton John… And considering the fact that lately there have been many insinuations about this, we are being very attentive to such information," said Peskov.


Blacklisted Russian individuals will be allowed to undergo treatment in the EU 

Citing the Council of the European Union, which has introduced further sanctions against Russia, the centrist broadsheet Izvestiya reports that the sanctions list does not exclude entrance into EU territory.

"If a Russian citizen who is on the sanctions list needs to enter the EU, he can do so for only two reasons: if his participation is needed at intergovernmental meetings or if the visit has a ‘humanitarian’ significance," explained Virginie Batu-Henriksson, press secretary for foreign communications at the Council of the EU.

According to Spyros Pappas, managing partner at the Brussels Legal Firm Papas and Associates, the "loophole" for people on the sanctions list can be found in one of the agreements – The European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950).

"Because the convention itself bears a humanitarian nature, all its positions are also applicable to the humanitarian rights that must not be challenged by the sanctions," Pappas explained.

"Thus, if a person who is on the sanctions list needs to undergo an operation in a clinic on EU territory because of its exclusivity, then he cannot be denied this right, since the denial could lead to a violation of his right to life."

Besides medical reasons, humanitarian grounds also include the funeral of a relative or close friend, inheritance rights and other notarial issues of a family nature. This is all written in the convention, said Valery Krasavtsev, a lawyer from the All-Russian Center of Legal Support.

One State Duma deputy has been able to circumvent the EU sanctions on medical grounds – Iosif Kobzon. At the end of August he said that he had received a medical visa to the EU thanks to the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


UN 70th anniversary session to be setting for Putin-Obama encounter

The centrist newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports that the UN General Assembly is preparing for its 70th anniversary jubilee session on Sept. 15. For the first time since 2005, the Russian delegation will be headed by President Vladimir Putin. It is expected that he will raise the issues of Syria, Ukraine and the fight against terrorism.

"I can imagine how precise the U.S. State Department will be in its coordination of everything related to Moscow and Beijing and how intensely the CIA will work to receive the first drafts of their [Putin and Jinping's – NG] speeches," said Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

U.S. President Barack Obama will find himself in a difficult position: If he highly praises his main geopolitical rivals for their collaboration on the Iran issue, right-wing American critics will say that he is being too soft on Russia and China. If, however, Obama speaks too harshly of Ukraine, as he did last year, or of the South China Sea, then Putin and Jinping may accuse the U.S. of being the cause of the problems which are afflicting a large part of the international community.

The agenda concerning bilateral meetings involving Putin is currently being drawn up. It is known that for now the agenda does not mention Obama. Nevertheless, Russian and American high-level talks are needed now like never before.

"No one obviously expects from the meeting between the Russian and American presidents, if it does take place in New York, an immediate breakthrough in the accumulated problems," said President of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov.

In his words, the meeting alone would be an important signal that the nadir of the crisis in Russian-American relations has been overcome and what is beginning is the complicated and painstaking task of restoring Russian-American cooperation.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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