Putin Signs Decree on Law Responding to U.S. Sanctions

President Vladimir Putin signed the Federal Law “On Measures to Counter Unfriendly Actions of the United States of America and/or Other Foreign States” after it was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of the Russian parliament, VOA news reported.

Following its first reading, the draft law underwent significant amendments in response to strong criticism from the Russian business community and other stakeholders for its potentially adverse impact on Russian businesses and consumers. As a result, the new law, which came into effect on June 4, is a drastically watered-down version of the initial draft.

The law no longer¬†refers to restrictions on specific goods, services, or industries, and it specifically exempts from sanctions “vitally essential” items that are not produced domestically.

The legislation was one of two Russian draft laws addressing U.S. sanctions. In the second, lawmakers debated making it a crime punishable by jail for a Russian citizen to comply with the U.S. measures. Russian and foreign business lobbies had said any such law would effectively force firms to choose between doing business with Russia and having dealings with the rest of the world.

Last month, Putin said any retaliation against western sanctions must not hurt the Russian economy or partners that do business in Russia.

The current draft law on Blocking Legislation would effectively put U.S. and EU companies operating in Russia in an untenable position where compliance with the laws of their home jurisdictions would expose their personnel in Russia to the risk of criminal liability. This would push many Western companies operating in Russia to consider scaling back their presence in Russia or exit.

As a result of significant pushback on the part of the Russian and international business community, the Duma delayed the procedure and is working on amendments aimed at mitigating the negative impact of the Blocking Legislation on Russian interests. No date has been set for the second reading.