Thursday, August 28, 2014

Poroshenko: Russian Forces Have Invaded Ukraine

Ukrainian President Poroshenko claimed Russian forces had invaded Ukraine Thursday, raising fears the crisis in the region was escalating. "I made the decision to cancel a working visit to the Republic of Turkey ... as an invasion of Russian forces has taken place,'' he said in a statement on the presidential website on Thursday, according to Reuters. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was holding an emergency meeting about the situation in Vienna. A pro-Moscow separatist leader earlier said Russian soldiers were fighting alongside rebels inside Ukraine – hours after the United States accused Russia of orchestrating a new military campaign in the country. "Among us are fighting serving soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom," east Ukraine rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko said in an interview posted on the Internet site of a Russian television station. Up to 4,000 Russian volunteers are also fighting alongside the rebels, Zakharchenko claimed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Russian Soldiers Captured in Ukraine

A group of Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine had crossed the border "by accident", Russian military sources are quoted as saying. Ukraine said 10 paratroopers had been captured and has released video interviews of some of the men. One is quoted as saying "this is not our war". The incident comes ahead of a key meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents. Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin are at a summit in Minsk in Belarus. More than 2,000 people have died in months of fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (video)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Russian Duma Considers Tougher Stance on Internet Piracy

According to Deputy Culture Minister Grigory Ivliyev, the State Duma is considering a tougher penalty for violation of the anti-piracy law aimed at protecting intellectual property on the Internet.  Russia's anti-piracy law currently sets out the legal grounds and procedure for limiting access to websites that distribute movies and TV films in violation of copyright, as well as the rules governing Internet and hosting providers. A set of amendments passed the Duma's second reading in July, and, among other things, these amendments would extend the anti-piracy law to all works under copyright and related rights, including music and literature.  After a meeting of the State Duma’s working group on intellectual property, Ivliyev told journalists that Russian authorities are considering administrative liability for failure to block access to pirated online content.  In addition, fines for business entities may be increased to up to 1 million rubles (over $27,500), with individuals facing 300,000 rubles ($8,200) penalty.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Russia Shuts Down Four McDonald's in Moscow

Russia's main consumer watchdog has temporarily shut four McDonald's restaurants in Moscow as part of an investigation into food standards. Watchdog Rospotrebnadzor claimed the restaurants had breached "numerous" sanitary laws. McDonald's said it was looking at the complaints, adding its "top priority is to provide safe and quality products". The closures come amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over the crisis in the Ukraine. Previously when diplomatic tensions are high, the regulator has controversially banned products including wine from Georgia, cheese from Ukraine and apples from Poland,. Earlier this month, Russia imposed a "full embargo" on food imports from the EU, US and some other Western countries, in response to sanctions over Ukraine. Wednesday's action by the regulator is part of an ongoing investigation into McDonald's food standards in Russia.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Protesters Plant Ukraine Flag on Moscow Skyscraper

Protesters have scaled one of Moscow's famed Stalin-era skyscrapers and painted the Soviet star on its spire in the national colors of Ukraine. They also attached a yellow and blue Ukrainian flag to the top of the 176-meter (580-foot) building early Wednesday. Russian authorities were not amused by the prank in support of Ukraine, where government troops are battling pro-Russian separatists. Police said they have detained four suspects and charged them with vandalism, a crime punishable with up to three years in prison. The LifeNews media site posted a video it says shows one of the protesters parachuting off of the building and landing in an inner courtyard. Russian news agencies, citing police, said the four suspects had climbing equipment with them when they were detained.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Bolotnaya Activists Jailed in Russia

A Moscow judge has sentenced three Russians to prison over violence at a 2012 protest in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin. The court on August 18 ordered Ilya Gushchin jailed for two and a half years and Alexander Margolin and Alexei Gaskarov to three and a half years each on charges of rioting. A fourth defendant, Yelena Kokhtareva, received a suspended sentence. The four were the latest in a series of Russian activists tried over violence at a protest on the eve of Putin's May 2012 inauguration. Prominent opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov was sentenced in July to four and a half years. Kremlin opponents say the trials in the "Bolotnaya Case" are part of a campaign to stifle dissent. They contend that protesters were provoked and that the state's claims of violence are exaggerated.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Rosneft Asks State for $40 Billion

Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft, has asked the government to provide the company with 1.5 trillion roubles ($41.6 billion) to help the company weather western sanctions, the Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday. Under the plan, the state would spend money from its National Wealth Fund to buy Rosneft bonds, the paper reported, citing government sources. The paper added that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had asked officials to analyse the idea. Rosneft net debt stood exactly at 1.5 trillion roubles at the end of the second quarter. The company needs to repay 440 billion roubles by year-end and another 626 billion roubles next year, according to its latest presentation. Vedomosti said that Sechin had called for the aid as a response to Western sanctions.

'Ashamed for the govt, I resign': Medvedev's Twitter Account Hacked

The Twitter account of the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been hacked. The hacker used the access to declare PM's intention to resign and pursue a career as a freelance photographer. Medvedev's Russian-language account was hacked at approximately 10:20am Moscow time (06:20 GMT). It took PM's office several minutes to report the breach to the media. The hacker produced a flurry of tweets over the 40 minutes he or she was in control. “I resign. I am ashamed for the actions of the government. I'm sorry,” the first tweet said.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ukraine: Notification principle in the registration of termination of an individual entrepreneur’s activities

On July 7, 2014 the Bill of Ukraine “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine to simplify the state registration procedure for termination of business activities of individual entrepreneurs based on the notification principle” dated 13.05.2014 No.1258-VII was passed into law (hereinafter the Law). The main purpose of the Law is to facilitate the procedures for the termination of business activities of individual entrepreneurs and reduce the term for such termination to 1 day.

The Law amends the Civil and Commercial Code of Ukraine as well as the laws of Ukraine "On State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs," "On the collection and accounting of a single fee for obligatory state social insurance," "On restoring the debtor's solvency or declaring it bankrupt," etc.

According to the proposed amendments, termination of an individual entrepreneur’s business activities will be registered immediately upon receipt of the entrepreneur’s appropriate expression of will (in the form of a registration card), without the right of regulatory bodies to block such registration. It should be noted that bankruptcy procedure applies to debts that have arisen in connection with the entrepreneur’s business activities, even if the person has lost its entrepreneur status.

It should be noted that if before the entry into force of the Law an individual entrepreneur applied for termination of her/his business activities but failed to submit the registration card for state registration of the termination, the state registrar shall complete a registration card for state registration of the termination of business activities at the entrepreneur’s own decision no later than 1 month from the date of entry into force of the Law, shall make a record on state registration of termination of the business activities in the Unified State Register and shall issue (mail with a list of enclosures) a notice of that record to the relevant individual.

Ukraine: Failure to appear at workplace in the ATO area due to hazard to life and health

On July 7, 2014 the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of Ukraine (hereinafter, the Ministry of Social Policy) published its Letter No.7302/3/14-14/13[1] (hereinafter, the Letter) emphasizing the need to protect the labour rights of employees in connection with their stay in the anti-terrorist operation area (hereinafter, the ATO). Thus, according to the Letter, dismissal of employees who move from the ATO area or remain in that area but cannot go to work because of the hazard to their life and health is unacceptable. The absence of such employees in the workplace is not absenteeism within the meaning of Paragraph 4 Article 40 of the Labour Code of Ukraine, but “absence due to valid reasons,” which is due to the preservation of life and health of such employees and their families. Such employees shall remain employed. At the same time, the Ministry of Social Policy recommends that such employees, at their request, shall be given a paid or unpaid leave, which shall be provided on a mandatory basis in cases stipulated by law, as well as a leave without pay upon the parties’ agreement.

[1] Letter of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of Ukraine "On preserving the jobs of employees moved from the areas of anti-terrorist operation or remaining in such areas" dated 08.07.2014.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Putin Bans Agricultural Imports from EU, US

A one-year ban has been imposed on certain agricultural produce, foods and raw materials from countries that have sanctioned Russia. An order on economic measures to protect the country's security has been signed by President Putin. The decree “on the use of specific economic measures” has been signed in response to sanctions imposed on Russia by a number of states over the Ukrainian crisis, the Kremlin said on its website. While the law comes into force immediately, the government has been tasked to come up with a concrete list of imports to be banned. The decree orders the Cabinet to take measures to provide a balance on product markets and prevent rapid price growth. The government has also to join efforts with manufacturers, businesses and retail store chains to increase the Russian goods supply. Earlier it was announced that Moscow planned to ban all US agricultural products, including poultry, as well as EU fruit and vegetable imports in response to Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. (video)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Russian Blogger Law Takes Effect

Amendments to the law On Information, Information Technology and Information Protection plus other related laws, informally referred to as the "Law on Bloggers", went into effect on August 1st.  The law requires individuals whose blog attracts a daily readership of more than 3,000 to take on the full responsibilities of mass media outlets which, among other things, will require bloggers to:  register with the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), confirm the reliability of information posted, act in accordance with election campaign rules, not publish private information about other people, and indicate age limits for users.  Registered bloggers will also be obliged to provide their family name, first name and patronymic on their pages, as well as contact data for filing complaints. Bloggers who fail to comply with these rules will face fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($14,107). Finally, bloggers will have to pay taxes on their advertising income, which is currently not controlled and hence not taxable.