The government introduced a bill to the State Duma that expands its powers in case of emergency. Experts warn that business-related situations need careful analysis
Rights and obligations
On Thursday, March 26, the Russian government introduced a bill to the State Duma, which, if approved, would expand the powers of the cabinet in case of emergency.
The bill, the text of which is placed in the database of the State Duma, will supplement the existing version of the law “On the protection of the population and territories from natural and man-made emergencies.” If the current law says that an emergency is a situation in a certain territory that has arisen as a result of an accident, natural hazard, catastrophe, natural or other disasters, then the amendments also refer to “the spread of a disease that poses a danger to others”.
The amendments also say that the government will have the right to decide on the introduction of a high alert or emergency; establish binding rules for citizens and organizations to conduct when introducing an emergency mode; make a decision on the exercise by him of the powers of the coordinating body of the unified state system for preventing and eliminating emergencies.
In the current version of the law, the government does not have such powers. Now the president of Russia can introduce an emergency mode on the territory of the whole country or its part. Regional authorities are responsible for introducing a high alert or emergency situation in the subjects. Depending on the level of disaster, the governor, the head of the district, or the city may announce an emergency.
The government will also receive the right to declare emergency situations or with a “substantial change in the ruble exchange rate” a moratorium on initiating bankruptcy cases on applications submitted by creditors; change the rules for procurement for state or municipal needs from a single supplier, as well as restrict the wholesale and retail sale of medical devices.
Amendments adjust citizens’ responsibilities. The bill suggests that Russians must comply with established rules of conduct when introducing a high alert or emergency. In the current version, citizens must comply with the rules in case of threat and emergency situations.
Risks and timing
Deputy Andrei Lugovoi is confident in the correctness and validity of the bill. “We are faced with new challenges, with a pandemic that has not been predicted and is developing rapidly, there is no time for reflection, and the powers requested by the government will allow us to quickly respond to the changing situation,” he said.
An urgent need arose in such a bill, says Alexey Gavrishev, Managing Partner at AVG Legal. “Of course, it is necessary to introduce control of the Cabinet, this is a sound initiative,” the lawyer said. In his opinion, the amendments will make it possible to more clearly formulate the provisions of the law. “Now, for example, many people have doubts about the decrees of the [mayor of Moscow] Sobyanin on introducing quarantine: on the one hand, there is administrative responsibility for non-compliance with quarantine, and on the other hand, people don’t understand what the Moscow government has to do with it,” Gavrishev said.
Regarding the business components of the amendments, in particular the rules on a moratorium on bankruptcy, experts are more cautious. “As a rule, the earlier the bankruptcy procedure is introduced, the higher the chances for creditors to satisfy their claims at the expense of the remaining assets until they have time to hide or sell them,” said Vyacheslav Kosakov, managing partner of Novator Law Group, lawyer. Unscrupulous owners can use the moratorium for further fraud, he said. “Yes, indeed, a moratorium will be useful for organizations with financial difficulties, but it seems to me that the amendments to the bill regarding the procedure for contesting transactions should be approached more carefully,” says Vyacheslav Kosakov.
Regarding the timing of the adoption of the bill, the RBC interlocutors say: it will be adopted in a short time. “Because of the emergency situation, all procedures are compressed as much as possible, events are ahead of the preparation of the regulatory framework,” says Roman Kandaurov, chairman of the defence version of the bar.