Russia postpones bill making US sanctions compliance a crime

Several of Russia's biggest companies as well as Putin's allies have been blacklisted.— Reuters pic
Several of Russia's biggest companies as well as Putin's allies have been blacklisted.— Reuters pic

MOSCOW, May 17 — Russian lawmakers today voted to postpone the second reading of a bill being discussed in the lower house of parliament that would make it a crime to comply with Western sanctions on Russia.

The lower house said it would hold consultations next week with businesses before proceeding further with discussion of the draft law, a day after business lobby groups yesterdayay publicly voiced opposition to it.

“I think we can find a construction under which these fears can be removed. And then the law will pass without any fears and, generally speaking, we need it,” lawmaker Valery Gartung said today. He is a member of the Just Russia party which often allies itself with the Kremlin.

The bill is one of two items of legislation drawn up by lawmakers in response to the United States’ s decision to impose sanctions on Russia last month.

Washington blacklisted some of Russia’s biggest companies and businessmen, striking at allies of President Vladimir Putin to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and other “malign activities”.

In retaliation, Russian lawmakers in a first reading on Tuesday approved a bill making it a crime punishable by up to four years in jail to refuse to supply services or do business with a Russian citizen, citing US or other sanctions.

Business and banking sector representatives a day later expressed concerns and appealed to parliament for further consultations.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs said in a statement yesterday that the bill creates risks of unreasonable criminal prosecution of Russian and foreign citizens, and could harm the investment climate.

The draft law has also raised concerns among some other Russian executives and groups, including the Association of European Businesses.

“We are afraid that the European businesses may be caught between the conflicting requirements of US and Russian authorities in relation to sanctions,” the association said. — Reuters