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Putin suggests decriminalization of Russian Penal Code

December 03, 2015, 13:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Vladimir Putin also said excessive acts of law enforcement agencies destroy the business climate in Russia
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© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, December 3 /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Russian lawmakers to support a proposal to decriminalize a number of articles of the Russian Penal Code.

"I am asking the Russian State Duma to support the proposal of the Russian Supreme Court to decriminalize some articles of the Russian Penal Code and transfer some of the crimes that pose no great threat to the public or society to the category of administrative offences but with one major reservation - the offence will be classified as a crime if it is committed for a second time," Putin said in the annual state of the nation address to the Russian Federal Assembly (parliament) on Thursday.

The head of state clarified that practically every second criminal case, which is taken to court today, is linked to minor and inconsiderable offences while people, including youth, are sent to prison. "The confinement and the fact of criminal conviction affect their future fate and often encourage them to commit further crimes," the president concluded.

Russian penitentiaries have around 660,000 inmates. According to the Federal Penitentiary Service, 55% of them are recidivists. Approximately 25% of the offenders serve prison sentences for minor offences and crimes of medium gravity; 1,800 people have been convicted for terrorism and extremism.

Excessive acts of law enforcement agencies destroy business climate in Russia

Putin said excessive acts of law enforcement agencies destroy the business climate in Russia.

"That is a direct destruction of the business climate. I am asking the investigation and prosecution authorities to pay a special attention to it," he said.

The President said that in 2014 nearly 200,000 criminal cases on economic crimes were initiated in Russia. Of this number 46,000 reached the court and 15,000 cases "collapsed" in courts.

"It turns out that only 15% of cases ended with verdicts," Putin said.

He added that most of the defendants in these cases - about 83% - fully or partially lost their businesses.

"That means that there were bullied, robbed and released," - the head of state said.

He called on prosecutors to make a wider use of their authorities to monitor the quality of the investigation.

The president also recalled the discussions on additional powers of prosecutors.

Today, a supervisory authority has the authority to cancel decisions on initiation of criminal proceedings, to dismiss indictments or not to uphold the charges in court.

"We need to use what we have more intensively. After that we will be able to analyze what is happening in practice," - he said.

According to Putin, detention at the stage of investigation of economic crimes should be used as a last resort and preference should be given to such methods as pledge, subscription on parole and house arrest.

Putin proposes extension of capital amnesty for 6 months, easing process

Vladimir Putin has proposed to extend amnesty of capitals for half a year and ease the process, he said at his annual state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly on Thursday.

"Last year amnesty of capitals to be returned to Russia was announced. Meanwhile business is not rushing to use this opportunity. This means the proposed procedure is complicated and guarantees are not sufficient. I’m asking the government to hold additional consultations with business community, with the Supreme Court, with law enforcement authorities and to submit respective adjustments in the shortest period of time. And I propose extension of amnesty itself for half a year," President said.

Capital amnesty is designed to repatriate declared offshore capital, which will subsequently flow into the Russian financial market. In March-June 2014 a new campaign to legalize capital was set forth at the level of the Federation Council, Finance Ministry and Economic Development Ministry. On December 4, 2014 in his annual address President Putin supported the initiative. The plan was to engage businessmen who will agree to return their offshore funds. According to estimates, the measure could add $2 bln to the federal budget and return around $100 bln worth of capitals to the country.

According to the law adopted in spring this year tax payers declaring their assets from July 1 to December 31, 2015, will be fully exempted from criminal and administrative prosecution (mainly regarding tax violations) while they do not need to pay for previous periods.

According to some media reports, by the beginning of December 2015 only several hundreds of people have submitted declarations within capital amnesty program.

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