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MOSCOW, April 11 (Itar-Tass) —— On Tuesday, Dmitry Medvedev had a meeting with a working group of the Open Government, where the participants discussed measures to develop competition and a favorable business climate. Besides, the president was asked to grant amnesty to 13,500 entrepreneurs, who had been convicted for “Swindle.” It was promised to activate cooperation with the State Duma on the issue.
President of the MICEX-RTS stock exchange Ruben Aganbegyan said an excessive presence of the state stays in the way of competition and mentioned about the pressure on business from law enforcement authorities and the judicial system, the Kommersant daily writes. He said that every sixth entrepreneur had been under criminal persecution. Aganbegyan said “if the judicial system is not changed, every entrepreneur will be a swindler.” Besides, he said the government had thrown out from the country more than 1.25 million people over the past ten years and that 37 companies had quit Russia and placed their shares abroad.
In response, Dmitry Medvedev doubted every sixth entrepreneur in Russia had been under criminal persecution: the interior ministry claims 120,000 people are behind bars for economic crimes. And very unexpectedly the president said: “But if this is true, it is a catastrophe, as then our business climate depends on the criminal system. I mean the figures, which ruin the business climate in the country.”
Presidential envoy on investment cooperation in Bashkiria, Deputy President of Business Russia Andrei Nazarov added that “over ten years sentenced for economic crimes were three million people, 90 percent of which are entrepreneurs.” After that Andrei Nazarov presented a package of suggestions on liberation of the criminal legislation, and disappointed the president even more saying the measures the latter had initiated had not brought much of a result, the Kommersant wrote.
Article 159 “Swindle” of the Russian Criminal Code, which is applied mostly to businessmen, may be divided into six-seven separate articles, and businessmen convicted for economic crimes, may be granted amnesty. Dmitry Medvedev supported this suggestion on Tuesday, the RBC daily reports. The business community suggested the Kremlin “giving a clear signal to business,” by granting amnesty to those behind bars for economic offences, the newspaper writes. The suggestion was to grant amnesty to those sentenced for economic crimes. The president was not happy with the idea. “Amnesty is quite a possible thing, but it is not popular with the public,” the president regretted, but did give in finally: - “Well, such a signal may be given.” Arkady Dvorkovich confirmed the State Duma had discussed amnesty for entrepreneurs. “Following today’s order from the president this dialogue will be activated and, possibly, there will be a solution, which may satisfy the State Duma’s majority,” he said.
Medvedev did not rule out an amnesty for “economic” prisoners, each of them costing the budget 17,000 rubles, the Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. And the total amount of overdue taxes is 254 billion rubles. The option of an amnesty should be “considered” by the State Duma, he said. Liberation of convicted businessmen, Khodorkovsky possibly being one of them, may become a signal for the development of competition in the country, the newspaper says.