Russia Current Affairs

One Million Dollar Fund Established for BRICS Media

The Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping has established a one million dollar fund for boosting media cooperation in the five-nation grouping. During the inaugural session of the BRICS Media Forum  held in Beijing, Xinhua News Agency and executive president of the Forum had announced that the Xinhua news agency will invest  one million U.S. dollars for bolstering BRICS media.

Salient Highlights

The BRICS media forum is a joint initiative of Xinhua News Agency, Brazil’s CMA Group, Russia’s Sputnik News Agency and Radio, The Hindu group of publications from India, and South Africa’s Independent Media.

BRICS Media is aimed at promoting six objectives including balanced reporting. It aims to create an alternative media narrative distinct from the media of western nations. The proposal is also aimed at joint development of BRICS digital media, financial information services and promoting people- to-people contacts.

BRICS

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was established in 2009. The BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] idea was first conceived by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs. In 2011, South Africa joined this informal group and BRIC became BRICS.

So far, eight BRICS summits have taken place. The first formal summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries and all five are G-20 members. They are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs.

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Russia, Turkey and Iran Sign Deal on Safe Zones in Syria

Russia and Iran which are allies of the Syrian regime as well as the rebel supporter Turkey signed a Russia-backed plan for creating safe zones in Syria. The pact which was signed in the Kazakh capital Astana was meant to halt fighting in the war-torn Syria. However, the Syrian government and rebel delegations were not signatories to the agreement. Russia-backed plan to create safe zones in Syria is targeted at further pacification and cessation of hostilities and a halt in fighting in the zones.

Salient Highlights

As per the plan, the zones were set to remain in place for six months. The time period could eventually be extended. The zones would cover the whole of Idlib province, portions of the Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Homs provinces, parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces, as well as the Ghouta suburb of Damascus.

As per the memorandum, there will be a halt in the usage of all categories of arms among belligerents, including aerial weapons.

The major objective of the memorandum is to halt the violence and facilitate conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees as well as to provide rapid and uninterrupted delivery of relief supplies and medical aid.

However, the ways to monitor and police the safe zones are not clearly spelt out. Russia has stated that ways to monitor the zones would be an issue for separate talks.

Background

Russia-backed plan has to be viewed at the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s call for the establishment of safe zones in Syria.

The Syrian conflict is six years old. It has been estimated that more than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

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