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The Russian government criticized the new Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation

The Russian government provided comments and observations on the draft of the General Part of the new Code of Administrative Offences (CAO), and officials criticized its most important revisions. The main message of this paper is that, although the government conceptually supports the bill, the draft requires significant improvement. Without sufficient justification, it increases the types of administrative punishments. It does not make the category of administrative offenses transparent because it describes them in evaluative terms or because they do not exist in the Russian legislation. Furthermore, its new rules for calculating fines virtually eliminates the possibility of appointing an administrative penalty on the basis of the inner conviction of a judge.

Last year’s instructions of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who proposed amendments to the code, especially in one particular part, were the reason for the change. The head of state criticized frequent changes of the Administrative Code and instructed the legislature to develop a new systematic and consistent law. In January 2015, the head of the Duma Committee on State Building, Vladimir Pligin, and a deputy from United Russia, Dmitry Vyatkin, submitted a draft of the General Part of the new Code of Administrative Offences. The part of the project that provides sanctions for specific violations is not ready yet, but the authors promise that the legislature will review the entire code at once.

In its response to the bill, the government of the Russian Federation criticized the idea of introducing categories of administrative offenses to the Administrative Code, depending on the degree of public danger: serious, significant, and less significant. According to the bill, serious violations are acts that threaten human life, health, and national security. They risk the occurrence of a radiation accident, a man-made disaster, or an epidemic. They also are actions that can lead to serious adverse effects. Significant actions are those causing considerable harm to the public, regardless of the consequences of the actions. Smaller actions are those which do not cause a great deal of harm. Officials believe that the description of the administrative offenses has too many evaluative terms. According to critics of the bill, definitions for these concepts do not exist in the Russian legislation, so they either must be deleted or defined in the text of the bill.

In addition, according to the cabinet of ministers, the bill does not have formally defined attributes that distinguish administrative offenses by category. As a result, critics of the bill suggested that the document only should have the list of rough offenses.

The government also noted that the number of administrative penalties, without the necessary foundation, increased. In particular, the bill proposes to add corrective labor, administrative ban on visiting public events, as well as a ban on air travel for one-half to three years for brawls on board flights.

Government officials paid special attention to the fact that there is a need for a special justification for the establishment of responsibility, which limits the significance of citizens’ rights and freedoms, such as the freedom of movement, to gather peacefully without weapons, to have meetings, demonstrations, marches, and pickets, according to Articles 27 and 31 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In response to the bill, the government pointed out that the administrative ban on the use of air carrier services, in certain situations, may have significant consequences for citizens, since in some cases, air transport may be their only means of transportation.

The government also opposed the new administrative fines because they “greatly exceed the minimum amount of the criminal penalty.” The Criminal Code provides for fines of RUB 5,000 up to RUB 5 million. The developers of the new Code of Administrative Offences are going to establish that, for gross violations, fines for citizens will be from RUB 10,000 to 100,000, RUB 100,000-400,000 for those independently employed, from RUB 200,000 to 800,000 for officials, and from RUB 5 million to RUB 60 million for legal entities.

In addition, the government criticized the methodology for calculating fines. The draft CAO calculates a punishment for serious violation, without taking into account mitigating or aggravating circumstances, by calculating the difference between the maximum and minimum limits of the penalties, dividing that number by two, and adding the minimum sanction. According to critics of the bill, these provisions exclude the possibility of imposing an administrative penalty on the basis of the inner conviction of a judge or officer, who may consider such circumstances as the nature of the wrongful act, the financial situation of a person and his family, wages or other income, property, and the financial situation of the legal person.

The text of the official comment on Bill No. 703192-6, Russian Federation Code of Administrative Offences (General Part), is located here