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Illegal Entrepreneurship Should Not Carry Strict Punishment

A draft bill referred to the State Duma on Wednesday suggests that illegal entrepreneurship should not be punished as strictly as revenues' laundering. Deputies from the parliamentary majority, United Russia faction, among them Vladimir Vasiliyev, the chairman of the State Duma Security Committee, suggested the amendments.

Existing legislation envisages strict punishment for legalization of incomes criminally gained, MP Igor Igoshin, an author of the amendments, told reporters on Wednesday. He is the coordinator of the United Russia social conservative club on whose premises these problems were recently discussed in detail. "If a number of persons, without registering a firm, quietly manufacture something, for instance, wooden rolling-pins, this is qualified as illegal entrepreneurship and may entail a fine of 100,000 rubles," said the MP. "If they buy a woodworking tool with the money earned, this is called legalizing the money or property criminally gained and can entail the punishment of the deprivation of freedom for up to 15 years," he said. "Strictly speaking, this looks not right," said the MP.

The amendments suggest excluding illegal entrepreneurship from the list of crimes classified under the article on the laundering of incomes. "Punishment must be commensurate to the gravity of the crime," Igoshin holds. "There is no sense in sending behind bars for decade a person whose only guilt is working without registration. There are an article and the appropriate sanction in the Criminal Code for this," he said.

Andrei Nazarov, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Civil, Criminal, Arbitration and Procedural Legislation, who participated in drafting the amendments, said, "Although illegal entrepreneurship as such is regarded as a petty crime, investigative bodies, quite often use the article of the Criminal Code that envisages punishment for legalization, even if deals only for purposes of personal consumption or petty deals took place," "This combination quite often means a long term of the deprivation of freedom for an entrepreneur," he added.

In view of this, deputies from the United Russia faction "deemed it necessary to reassess norms of the criminal law applied to economically-active citizens." "Putting an entrepreneur behind bars is not the best way of fighting the financial crisis, as it is precisely entrepreneurs who create jobs and ensure social stability of the country," Nazarov said.

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