Sanctions. Changes to the Criminal Legislation in February-March 2022

24 March 2022
Stepan Guzey
Partner
Ellina Izotkina
Associate
Anzhelika Kalashyan
Legal Trainee

1. Amnesty for financial crimes 

On 16th March 2022 a draft resolution  was introduced to the State Duma establishing amnesty for financial crimes in the form of minor offence and misdemeanor. Such crimes involve fraud (Article 159 of the Criminal Code), misappropriation (Article 160 of the Criminal Code), illegal entrepreneurship (Article 171 of the Criminal Code), willful debt evasion (Article 177 of the Criminal Code), tax or insurance premium evasion (Article 199 of the Criminal Code), non-fulfillment duties of a tax agent (Article 199.1 of the Criminal Code), abuse of powers (Article 201 of the Criminal Code).

In relation to such crimes, it is proposed to:

  • free those Russian citizens from the punishment, who were sentenced to imprisonment for the first time, and clear their criminal record

  • stop criminal cases under preliminary investigation where an offence was committed before the date of entry into force of the bill, as well as criminal cases under proceedings before courts where examination of a case has not started yet

  • free convicted persons from additional types of punishments if they have not been executed up to the date of entry into force of the bill

The purpose of the amnesty, as indicated in the Explanatory Note, is to return businessmen to economic activity during a period of serious sanctions burden on the economy of the Russian Federation. This applies to those businessmen who could actively create enterprises to substitute import, create new job places, since abovementioned elements of crimes are often used to artificially transfer legal relations from civil domain to criminal, including cases of business illegal takeover .

2. New financial crimes 

In reply of restrictive measures imposed by the EU, USA and UK against Russian citizens and entities, it is proposed to introduce new financial crimes to the Criminal Code :

  • illegal registration of an individual entrepreneur in the name of a proxy person (Article 173.1 of the Criminal Code) – previously, criminal legislation provided for criminal liability only for registration of a legal entity in the name of a proxy person

  • illegal usage of documents in the course of registration of an individual entrepreneur (Article 173.2 of the Criminal Code) – previously, criminal legislation provided for criminal liability only for illegal usage of documents in the course of registration of a legal entity 

  • fabrication of accounting (tax) documents, accounting (tax) reporting (Article 173.3 of the Criminal Code) – a special crime providing for criminal liability of individuals responsible for accounting support both directly in the entities or through outsourcing

  • tax fraud (Article 159.7 of the Criminal Code) – provides for criminal liability for the inclusion of deliberately false information in a tax return (calculation) or other documents that entailed misappropriation of funds when reimbursing taxes, fees, insurance premiums

3. Criminal liability for “fakes” about the Russian Armed Forces and call for restrictive measures 

Amendments were also made to the Criminal Code and entered into force on 4th March 2022, which establish criminal liability for false information (“fakes”) , namely:

  • liability for the publicly spreading deliberately false information about the Armed Forces (Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code) is established in the form of a fine up to RUB 1,500,000, compulsory works for up to 3 years, or imprisonment for up to 3 years

  • liability for public actions aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces used to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintain international peace and security (Article 280.3 of the Criminal Code) is established in the form of a fine up to RUB 1,5 mil, arrest for up to 6 months, imprisonment for up to 5 years

  • liability for calls for restrictive measures against the Russian Federation, citizens of the Russian Federation or Russian legal entities (Article 284.2 of the Criminal Code) is established in the form of a fine of up to RUB 500,000, restriction of liberty for up to 3 years, compulsory works for up to 3 years, arrest for up to 6 months, or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

Several criminal cases were opened in relation to Russian citizens imputing publicly spreading of deliberately false information about the actions of the Armed Forces, done through SNS and motivated by political hatred or conflict . 

As of 24 March 2022, Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code is updated by the new offence : 

  • liability for the publicly spreading deliberately false information about the Russian state authorities exercising their duties abroad is established in the form of a fine up to RUB 1,500,000, compulsory works for up to 3 years, or imprisonment for up to 3 years


1 URL: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/88312-8.
2 URL: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/88312-8.
3 URL: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/89802-8.
4URL: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/9712-8.
5URL: https://sledcom.ru/news/item/1664877/.
6URL: https://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/9712-8.