01.07.2016 — Obtaining Construction Permit to Become Easier

The Federation Council has approved a bill designed to simplify procedures of obtaining construction and commissioning permits. Generally, this novelty implies elimination of administrative barriers and a decrease in expenses incurred by construction businesses.

In particular, the law establishes a three-day limit within which the authorized bodies must request all of the documents necessary for issuing a construction permit. Besides, developers will now be allowed to submit information and documents in electronic form, including data on size, height and floor number, copies of parts of project documentation, etc. These developments will lower the expenses of businesses due to departure from paper-based submissions.

30.06.2016 — Presidential Council for Strategic Development and Priority Projects Is Established

The Council for strategic development and priority projects was established by the decree of the President with a view to “improving the strategic development of the Russian Federation and implementation of priority projects”. The same decree has abolished two advisory bodies: the Council for implementation of the national priority projects and population policy and the Council for housing policy and for improvement of housing availability.

The main function of the Council will be coordination of federal and regional authorities, public organizations addressing the issues of strategic development of the country and the key projects directed towards structural changes in the economy and the social sphere.

29.06.2016 — Federation Council Approved “Antiterrorist” Legislative Package

Despite the protest of the Human Rights Council, mobile companies and other organizations, the Federation Council has approved the legislative amendments aimed at eliminating terrorism by way of criminal repression and mass surveillance. In particular, the amendments criminalize such acts as failure to inform the authorities of a crime, international terrorism, facilitation of extremism, inducing into mass disorder, etc.

The most controversial amendments, however, establish the obligation of mobile and internet companies to store all traffic of every user (including video watched), messages and conversations for up to 6 months, while “metadata” (the information about the calls, messages, etc. as opposed to their actual content) – for 3 years. All internet services using cryptography will have to assist the authorities in accessing such private messages upon their request under the pain of fines.

The Human Rights Council has already addressed President Putin requesting that the President exercises his veto rights to return the bill to the State Duma for further discussion. There are concerns that the changes may result in mass violations of human rights and further deterioration of Russia’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

28.06.2016 — Central Bank Proposes Enhanced Control over Currency Regulation Regarding International Contracts

The Central Bank of Russia has developed a package of measures aimed at strengthening control over mandatory return of all currency gains from foreign trade contracts to the country and at counteracting unfair withdrawal of funds abroad.

The key amendment reduces the threshold for international contracts that require submission of a currency transaction report from 50 to 25 thousand dollars. Russian legal entities and sole entrepreneurs working both with export and import contracts, as well as banks, which are responsible for controlling such currency transactions, come within the scope of the proposed measures.

Besides, it is planned to introduce the obligation of natural persons to register currency transaction report forms if they grant loans to nonresidents. This will reduce cases when unfair entities avoid currency control using private accounts of citizens.

27.06.2016 — Companies Have to Update Information on Beneficial Owners Annually

Vladimir Putin has signed a bill according to which legal entities are obliged not only to have information on their beneficial owners at their disposal, but also to update it at least once a year. All changes have to be recorded, stored for 5 years, and submitted for inspection upon request of authorized state bodies.

If a legal entity does not fulfill its obligation to determine, update, store or submit the information on the beneficial owners, the finе can amount up to 500 thousand rubles. Fines for violation of the new requirements for officials range between 30 and 40 thousand rubles.