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MOSCOW, December 13 (Itar-Tass World Service) The Russian newspapers devote their editorials to the year’s key event - the president’s state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly.
Kommersant publishes a commentary on Vladimir Putin’s address, where the president called on clearing the economy of offshore companies.
The part of the address, which is most important for businesses and which has been quoted most often, was devoted to fighting offshore companies. Putin burst with criticism of the high share of offshore companies in the Russian business and presented three initiatives. Revenues of companies, registered at offshore havens and owned “by Russians, final beneficiaries,” should be liable for Russian taxes. Companies, registered abroad, will not enjoy state support, loans from Vnesheconombank or state guarantees. And, finally, they “will not have access to working on state contracts and contracts with organisations, in which the state participates,” Kommersant stresses.
The very initiative from the Kremlin to correct the tax regime is in line with the G20 policy on fighting against tax havens and is rather more demanding than a similar governmental statement of, say, France. Investors fear changes of the status-quo in the sphere. The thing is the changed situation with possibilities of using the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, some EU territories with bank secrecy, has made the topic of offshore havens very sensitive for investors in Russia, the newspaper writes.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta stresses Putin in his address confirmed the adherence to the conservative trend. Here, comes in line with it, among others, the straightforward criticism of the government, which would not let Putin make realistic his promises to the country’s conservative majority. In Russian terms, the conservatism based on religious and family values is closer to a monarch-type system of power. Under the conservative approach of the kind, the president for the first time outlines directions of further politics.
Putin stated that over the previous year nothing had been done against the loophole of offshore tax evasion. “Amazing - for a year the president had been expecting those measures from the government - and now offers them by himself,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta wonders. Putin in fact voiced the intention to “strangle offshore companies if they do not change their foreign jurisdiction for the Russian one.”
The president voiced the address on the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, which many well-wishers would love to amend radically. Thus, Novye Izvestia quoted the president as saying: “I am adamant the constitution process should be stable. And, first of all, this is true about the Constitution’s second paragraph, which states rights and freedoms of people and citizens. These provisions of the Basic Law are immutable.” At the same time, the president said: “Life goes on, and the constitution process should not be taken as final, dead. Dotted corrections of the Basic Law’s other provisions may be possible, of course, or even necessary.”
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