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The Political and Economic Results of December 2012

  • Sergey Zhavoronkov

    (Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy)

In December 2012, the so-called ‘Magnitsky Law’ came into force in the United States. This law empowers and obliges the U.S. President to compose the list of persons responsible for the death of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund’s counselor Sergey Magnitsky and persons violating human rights in Russia. The persons on that list will be barred from entry into the United States, and their assets in U.S. banks will be frozen. Although none of the influential Russian officials has been placed on this list so far, and any ‘symmetric’ counter-measures would evidently be futile, the Russian authorities have announced their intention to ban the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens, and the Russian parliament has passed the corresponding law. This response to the ‘Magnitsky Law’ is likely to further increase tensions in the relations between Russia and the United States. However, it cannot be ruled out that Vladimir Putin will refrain from signing this law because of its incompatibility with Russia’s international obligations, as he has already hinted in the course of a recent press conference. In December, Vladimir Putin announced that single-member electoral districts would be restored, and that 50% of seats in the State Duma would be allocated to their representatives. In the past, single-member districts were considered by the Russian authorities as a dangerous means for undesired politicians to enter Parliament. Nowadays the Kremlin is more interested in the prospect that United Russia, the ruling party, should gain an absolute majority in the State Duma, which becomes rather problematic because of its failure to win even 50% of the vote, and in some districts – even one-third of the vote, in elections under the current election system exclusively based on party lists. Vladimir Putin also announced that Russian officials will retain the right to own real estate abroad, although some unspecified restrictions will be introduced on their right to own foreign bank accounts and shares. This is a clear indication of the fact that the interests of his entourage are more important to Vladimir Putin than any gain in electoral votes that the introduction of such restrictions might bring him.

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Article provided by Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy in its journal Russian Economic Developments.

Volume (Year): (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 7-11

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Handle: RePEc:gai:recdev:48
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