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Russia Moves to Ban Keeping Businessmen in Detention for No Reason

Moskva News Agency

Russian lawmakers have approved legislation banning law enforcement authorities from extending pre-trial detentions for businesspeople without reason amid criticism over the criminalization of business disputes. 

Officials are seeking to lure investment to boost Russia’s struggling economy and President Vladimir Putin has called for an end to unfounded probes into so-called economic crimes. However, government polling has found that a fear of criminal investigations is growing among businesspeople.

Russia’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday approved the third and final reading of a draft law requiring investigators to provide sufficient reasoning for extending entrepreneurs’ pre-trial detentions.

“It’s forbidden to place CEOs and individual entrepreneurs in detention centers in order not to inhibit business activity during the investigation,” State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.

The changes will affect suspects under investigation for embezzlement, fraud, abuse of power, property damage and other economic crimes.

The bill, which passed in the State Duma almost two years after its submission, needs to gain upper-house approval and Putin’s signature before becoming law.

Shortly after the high-profile arrest of U.S. investor Michael Calvey on suspicion of fraud in February, Putin voiced support for an end to extending pre-trial detentions during the investigation phase. 

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