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Russia continues to set free business people under economic amnesty act

July 30, 2013, 17:52 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, July 30 (Itar-Tass) - Russia has begun to put into practice an economic amnesty act under which 26 people have been released from custody, tens of others relieved of sentences which do not deprive them of their freedom or were set free before their trial. The businesspeople are giving millions of roubles to be released from custody under the amnesty. The indemnification of damage in money or property is one of compulsory conditions of amnesty.

The amnesty on economic crimes, a draft of which the president initiated, was declared by the State Duma and took effect on July 4. The amnesty will last six months.

The convicted sentenced on 27 economic articles of the Russian Criminal Code are within the scope of the amnesty act. The amnesty will also spread on people who received suspended sentences on these articles as well as those for whom the serving of sentence was delayed. The effect of the amnesty act encompasses only those people who were brought to criminal responsibility for the crimes related with business activity for the first time and only if they repaid the losses to the injured parties for the period of time the amnesty is in effect. Meanwhile, the damage should be indemnified not only to the Russian state, legal entities, but also ordinary people.

For the past period of time of economic amnesty in effect 26 people were already released from custody, including 12 people from the detention centres, four people from the penitentiaries and ten people were set free from the correctional labour facilities (the correctional labour facilities in Russia are the institutions that administer the criminal sentences for correctional labour according to the Russian criminal legislation against the convicted who were sentenced without isolation from society - eds), a source in the staff of Russian presidential commissioner for business rights Boris Titov told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily.

The criminal prosecution against 61 people was terminated at the stage of preliminary investigation and court proceedings, the Vedomosti daily said, citing the staff of the business ombudsman.

Only those people, the criminal cases against which the Interior Ministry was investigating and against which no court verdicts were passed, paid about 43 million roubles in money or the property they returned for the termination of prosecution, a source in the staff of the business ombudsman told Vedomosti. Total ‘returns’ from the amnesty to the Russian state have not been calculated yet.

Some part of these indemnified funds will be transferred to the state budget, another part of these funds will be passed to those people who were recognized as the injured parties, the source said.

“The first conclusion is that the amnesty is being enforced. One should not expect high figures of amnestees immediately because people should get legal certificates that they indemnified the damage,” Titov explained recently.

An important aspect of the amnesty is the problem of changing the criminal cases to softer charges, he noted. A larger number of prosecutors are standing up in defence of businesspeople, but the courts do not always take appropriate decisions, the ombudsman noted.

The scale of amnesty is not clear finally. At first the amnesty act was intended to release from custody 100,000 business people, who were convicted or who are under investigation, Boris Titov, who initiated the amnesty, said. Then the number of articles of the Criminal Code, on which the amnesty was declared, was almost halved as compared with the initial plan of the ombudsman.

Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov said back on July 4, the day when the amnesty act entered into force, that, according to approximate estimates, 10,000 people may get under the effect of the amnesty act. Last Monday, Krasheninnikov changed his forecast to over 1,000 people that may be released from custody thanks to the amnesty.

Titov also confirmed the fact that the number of amnestees will be lower than was expected at the beginning of this month. “At first we set a target figure in the range from 3,000 to 6,000 people, but now, judging by the number of appeals, which are coming to us, we witness that their number (the number of amnestied people - Itar-Tass) will be lower,” he told the Internet edition Lenta.ru.

The amnesty act had just begun to be fulfilled. It was drafted jointly with the law enforcement agencies and everything was going on according to the schedule, the number of amnestied people would be growing, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily said, citing a co-author of the amnesty act and a co-chairman of the Business Against Corruption centre under business ombudsman Andrei Nazarov as saying.

Meanwhile, each person decides for himself whether to agree to be amnestied or continue the struggle for his fair name.

Pavel Arslanov, who runs a business in the construction industry in Astrakhan, has already got advantage of the amnesty campaign. The businessman was being kept at the detention centre for four months, then the guilty verdict against him was cancelled in the court of appeal. “I was brought under the effect of amnesty, which I take as a deal between me and the prosecutor’s office. I agreed on it to continue my business. As I have retained only 23 out of 83 employees for two years of humiliation,” he told the newspaper.

In his view, the economic amnesty is needed, “because the inmates for economic crimes make about 30% in the detention centres.”