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Russian Parliament To Ban Public Employees From Owning Foreign Assets

MOSCOW - Proposed legislation in the Russian Duma (Lower House of Parliament) would forbid all public employees, including government ministers, the President and the Duma MPs themselves, from owning any real estate, stocks or bank accounts outside of Russia. In its current form, public employees found to have property or accounts abroad would be removed from their posts and would face up to five years in jail, as well as hefty fines. In addition, public employees would not be able to own property abroad for three years after they leave government service.

Vyacheslav Lyisakov, an MP from the ruling United Russia party and one of the bill’s authors, said that government employees should “have two feet in Russia.” But other members of the United Russia party admitted that the law could violate government workers’ civil rights.

Aleksei Makarkin, vice-president of the Center of Political Technology, says that this new law is a way to respond to public outcry about new restrictions on rallies and the activities of NGOs; a way of saying “Look, we don’t just restrict average citizens, we also restrict ourselves.” But he is convinced that the law is too full of loopholes to genuinely prevent ownership of foreign assets among the leading classes.

Kiril Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, agrees, adding that the real reason for the law project is the upcoming report on the fight against corruption in Russia that will be presented to the international community in September.

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Kommersant ("The Businessman") was founded in 1989 as the first business newspaper in the Russia. Originally a weekly, Kommersant is now a daily newspaper with strong political and business coverage. It has been owned since 2006 by Alisher Usmanov, the director of a subsidiary of Gazprom.

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