Two amnesty bills in the sphere of criminal law, which have been considered by the State Duma since last year, have passed unnoticed against the backdrop of the New Year holidays, which are as usual irritably lengthy for true workaholics.
The amnesty related to many categories of persons, being criminally prosecuted, has been discussed not for the first time recently. Last year, in 2017, bills were introduced on the occasion of the centenary of the revolution (http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/274076-7) and in connection with the 3rd anniversary of the Crimean inclusion in Russia (http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/124775-7).
These initiatives did not have any logical follow-up. The amnesty on criminal cases was also expected after the President’s reelection, but the hopes did not come true.
At the moment two amnesty bills are being considered by the State Duma. Both of them were introduced in November 2018. The first one — in connection with the National Unity Day celebrations — suggests releasing from punishment the convicts sentenced under art. 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and discontinuing criminal cases of this category in terms of the suspects and the accused. Meanwhile the gender, age and the terms of sentence are not distinguished.
The second initiative is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. The Resolution comprised a much wider range of persons and categories of crimes.
Unlike the first bill, this one only specifies the categories of persons rather than certain non-punishable categories of crimes. Here are only some of them:
— the persons sentenced to 3-5 years, inclusive and those who did not earlier serve a sentence: men older than 60; women older than 55; men having children aged under 3; pregnant women and women having under-age children; disabled persons of groups 1,2,3;
— the same categories if they are suspected or accused of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years.
Such criminal cases are to be discontinued if approved by the person involved.
If the law envisages the punishment exceeding 5 years’ imprisonment, but the court imposes a shorter term, the person is to be released from the punishment.
Under the amnesty bill, for the persons falling outside the specified categories who were convicted of negligent crimes, the unserved part of the punishment is halved; for the persons who were convicted of intentional crimes, the unserved part of the punishment is reduced by a third. Some mitigation is envisaged for the persons who were sentenced to the term exceeding 5 years: the unserved part of the punishment is reduced by a quarter.
The legislator envisaged a number of exceptions which will not be covered by the amnesty: the bill comprises an extensive list of articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation including the persons who earlier served a sentence for intentional crimes as well as those amnestied after 2005.
Thus, the amnesty is not applicable to the following white-collar crimes: parts 3 and 4 of article 158 (fraud), the same parts of articles 159.1-159.6 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on «specific» types of fraud (misappropriation and embezzlement), all parts of article 171 (illegal business activity), articles 173.1 and 173.2 on the incorporation of a legal entity through a shell company, articles 2-4 of article 174 (money laundering), part 2 of article 199 (tax evasion), article 290 (bribe-taking) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and other categories. That is why the amnesty can be hardly called large-scale. However, several types of official malfeasance, e.g. articles 285 and 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, are not on the list of exceptions, and the persons involved in the cases being investigated along with the convicted persons can be released from the criminal liability.
The described bill was introduced by one of the six members of the State Duma who had earlier suggested releasing from the criminal liability persons for committing the crimes envisaged in art. 282 the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The agenda of the State Duma dated 10 January 2019 contains the point under which the bill is proposed to be forwarded to the committees and included in the tentative programme of legislative work for the spring parliamentary session in 2019 (February).
The previous criminal amnesty took place in 2015 and was connected with the Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War. Three times amnesties only related to specific categories of persons (usually women, under-age persons and the disabled): in 1997, 1999 and 2001.
In July 2013 the State Duma’s resolution covered the convicts for economic crimes and the suspects accused of the same caterogy. In December of that year the amnesty was declared in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, and the bill being considered is very much alike as it combines both the categories of persons released from the criminal liability with the gravity of crimes.
One can familiarize with the full set of documents and the chronology of considering the amnesty bill in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Constitution at http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/597435-7.
The amnesty bill connected with the National Unity Day can be found on the site of the legislative maintenance system http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/577815-7,
However, taking into account the amendments to the article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation made under the Federal law № 519-FZ at the end of December, it may well be changed.
Law firm «Slovo and Delo»