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It was reported on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, by RIA Novosti (the Russian state news agency) that the Russian State Duma has adopted at its first reading a draft law on the recognition of activity of foreign/international organizations in Russia as “undesired” where they pose a threat to the foundation of constitutional system, defense capability and safety of Russia. Assets of such organizations will be frozen and the activity of their Russian representatives along with distribution of information materials will be prohibited. Membership in such organizations will entail administrative or criminal liability, as well as travel ban.

 The amendments were introduced by Alexander Tarnavskiy, Deputy Head of the Duma Committee on Public Organizations, and Anton Ishenko, Member of the Duma Budget Committee. In their view, such measures would prevent the destructive influence of international terrorists, extremists and nationalists and reduce the foreign threat to the foundations of Russia. The decision on the recognition of foreign/international organization as “undesired” will be adopted by the Russian General Prosecutor Office based on information from law enforcement authorities and in consultations with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The list of such organizations will be published by the Russian Ministry of Justice.

 If the activity of the foreign or international organization is recognized as “undesired”, its Russian funds and assets will be frozen and it will be prohibited from establishing subdivisions in Russia. Furthermore, it is also intended that the rights of such organizations to establish non-commercial, public and religious organizations in Russia will be restricted. Parties participating in its activities will be restricted from visiting Russia. Those involved in its legalization in Russia will be subject to administrative liability and criminal liability will be imposed in case of double violation. Obtaining of funds or assets from such “undesired” organizations will also entail administrative liability.

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Alexander Bychkov is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Moscow office. Alexander Bychkov is the co-head of the Firm’s CIS Tax Practice Group and the head of the CIS International Trade and Customs group, which includes professionals working in the Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv and Almaty offices. In addition, he is a member of the Firm’s Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare group. Since 2006 Mr. Bychkov has been consistently recognized as one of the leading professionals in the tax field within Russia and across the CIS. His practice is recognized by Chambers and International Tax Review.

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