Russia’s State Duma is moving firmly towards the adoption of a law that will make it a criminal offense to comply with US sanctions in Russia.
As RIA Novosti reported with reference to a source acquainted with the text of the bill, physical entities could face up to four years of prison time for this offense. Fines of up to 600,000 rubles and four years of correctional labor are also possible.
The offense in question involves action (or inaction) to implement sanctions introduced by foreign states, if it results in Russian citizens and companies losing out on business deals, the source explained.
Persons who facilitate the introduction of restrictive measures against Russia, who call for this or hand over any evidence, will be threatened by up to three years of imprisonment and fines of up to 500,000 rubles.
The bill, which has been signed by State Duma Spokesperson Vyacheslav Volodin, the leaders of all the parties as well as Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko, will be passed at the end of next week and may finally be adopted on May 24.
The punishment for the offense will be introduced exclusively for physical entities, explained United Russia Deputy Chairman Andrei Isaev: if banks or companies are caught violating the law, their officials can be put in prison.
“One company has a long-standing contract with another. And the contract is dissolved, because this company is afraid of being associated with the one under sanctions. And this is taking place within Russia, in Russian jurisdiction. It turns out that they do not comply with Russian laws, but rather the laws of another government which are aimed against the Russian Federation. This specifically will be covered by this law,” Isaev explained.
“It will affect banks or organizations that are active in Russian, but the rule will concern citizens, because it is they who are ‘betraying the Fatherland by their actions’,” he emphasized.
Consideration of amendments will take place effectively at the same time as the primary bill on counter sanctions. The counter sanctions bill will give the government the mandate to restrict the presence of American business and American specialists in Russia, to ban imports from the US of foodstuff, medicines, tobacco and alcohol, and to stop collaboration in rocket engines, nuclear energy and aircraft construction.
Whatever the counter sanctions are, they will hurt Russia itself far more severely, warns Andrei Movchan, director of the Economic Policy Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.
The maths is simple: 4% of Russia’s foreign trade goes to the US, whereas Russia’s share for the US is 10 times less (0.4%). As a result, the US will easily find a substitute for Russian commodities, and Russia will take itself out of the export market and deprive itself of foreign exchange earnings.
Movchan believes that Moscow should take the exact opposite approach: invite the largest corporations of the US and its allies into Russian business by selling them large packages of shares.