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Anti-crisis reg­u­la­tion in com­mer­cial real es­tate: tak­ing the 2022 ex­per­i­ence...
17 Feb­ru­ary 2023
Waste man­age­ment: what should busi­nesses pre­pare for?
15 Septem­ber 2022
For­eign less­ees be­ware of new lease rules
Spe­cial reg­u­la­tion* now ap­plies to less­ees that are or­gan­isa­tions in the trade and ca­ter­ing sec­tors and as­so­ci­ated with states that are lis­ted* as “un­friendly” by the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment.Ac­cord­ing...
Leg­al de­vel­op­ments that may af­fect your busi­ness in 2022
CMS Rus­sia ex­perts have pre­pared their an­nu­al se­lec­tion of the most sig­ni­fic­ant leg­al de­vel­op­ments that may af­fect your busi­ness in Rus­sia in 2022.
Do­ing busi­ness in Rus­sia
This is the 2021 edi­tion of the Do­ing busi­ness in Rus­sia guide. 
Do­ing busi­ness in Rus­sia 2020
Gen­er­al back­groundThe Rus­si­an leg­al sys­tem gen­er­ally be­longs to the con­tin­ent­al European leg­al fam­ily. The leg­al struc­ture de­veloped at a rap­id pace dur­ing the 1990s. Dur­ing this peri­od, sig­ni­fic­ant re­forms were en­acted in al­most every area of law as the coun­try moved away from its So­viet com­mand eco­nomy.The Con­sti­tu­tion, fed­er­al laws and re­gion­al laws form the found­a­tion of the Rus­si­an leg­al sys­tem. Pres­id­en­tial ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders, de­crees of the Rus­si­an Gov­ern­ment and the de­cisions of vari­ous min­is­tries are used to sup­port and de­vel­op the pro­vi­sions of primary le­gis­la­tion.The Con­sti­tu­tion states that gen­er­al prin­ciples of in­ter­na­tion­al law and in­ter­na­tion­al treat­ies are part of the Rus­si­an leg­al sys­tem. Con­sequently, if Rus­sia is a sig­nat­ory to an in­ter­na­tion­al treaty con­tain­ing pro­vi­sions con­trary to the pro­vi­sions of any do­mest­ic le­gis­la­tion, the pro­vi­sions of the in­ter­na­tion­al treaty will pre­vail. The Con­sti­tu­tion, how­ever, takes pre­ced­ence over any con­tra­dict­ing pro­vi­sion of an in­ter­na­tion­al treaty.The Rus­si­an Civil Code (the “Civil Code”) sets out the found­a­tion of civil law and is the key source of law for busi­ness. As part of the re­form, sig­ni­fic­ant amend­ments to the Civil Code con­cern­ing cor­por­ate law and the law of ob­lig­a­tions came in­to force in Septem­ber 2014 and June 2015. These amend­ments form the most sig­ni­fic­ant de­vel­op­ment since the shap­ing of mod­ern cor­por­ate and com­mer­cial law in Rus­sia. Today, a num­ber of con­cepts which have for a long time been com­mon to in­ter­na­tion­al prac­tice in cor­por­ate, debt and gen­er­al com­mer­cial areas, are also re­cog­nised and widely used in Rus­sia, in par­tic­u­lar:cor­por­ate agree­ments;the “four-eyes” prin­ciple;the con­di­tion­al per­form­ance of ob­lig­a­tions;the concept of rep­res­ent­a­tions (“zaveren­iya ob ob­stoy­a­tel­stvakh”) (an in­ten­ded equi­val­ent of “rep­res­ent­a­tions” and “war­ranties” as used in con­tracts un­der Eng­lish law);the concept of the re­im­burse­ment of losses arising from the oc­cur­rence of cer­tain events spe­cified in a con­tract (the in­ten­ded equi­val­ent of the Eng­lish law concept of an “in­dem­nity”);new types of civil law con­tracts, such as op­tions, frame­work agree­ments and sub­scrip­tion agree­ments;rules for the con­duct of ne­go­ti­ations to con­clude a con­tract; andnew mech­an­isms to se­cure the per­form­ance of con­trac­tu­al ob­lig­a­tions by the parties.These highly sig­ni­fic­ant changes to the Civil Code are in­ten­ded to ac­com­mod­ate the grow­ing trend of sub­mit­ting com­plic­ated trans­ac­tion doc­u­ments to Rus­si­an law and Rus­si­an courts in­stead of Eng­lish law and in­ter­na­tion­al ar­bit­ra­tion which were tra­di­tion­ally the “well-trod­den path” in Rus­sia. It is yet to be seen how the new con­cepts and pro­vi­sions will be en­forced by courts and ar­bit­ral tribunals. Nev­er­the­less, in prac­tice, com­pan­ies are act­ively us­ing the new con­cepts in their pro­jects.WTO­Fol­low­ing 18 years of ne­go­ti­ations, Rus­sia fi­nally joined the World Trade Or­gan­isa­tion in sum­mer 2012 (please see the Cus­toms reg­u­la­tions chapter).At the time, WTO ac­ces­sion sent a pos­it­ive sig­nal to for­eign in­vestors. However, not­able changes such as a ma­ter­i­al drop in tar­iffs on im­por­ted goods and changes to the quotas for for­eign par­ti­cip­a­tion in the in­sur­ance sec­tor have not yet come in­to ef­fect be­cause of the long grace peri­ods that are al­lowed. For ex­ample, un­der WTO rules, for­eign in­sur­ance com­pan­ies will be able to open branch of­fices in Rus­sia, but this is not re­quired to take ef­fect un­til nine years after ac­ces­sion. The rel­ev­ant bill to im­ple­ment this change is in pro­gress and has yet to be sub­mit­ted to the State Duma.For­eign in­vest­ment Leg­al reg­u­la­tionThe main le­gis­lat­ive act gov­ern­ing for­eign in­vest­ments is Fed­er­al Law No. 160-FZ “On For­eign In­vest­ment in the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion” dated 9 Ju­ly 1999. This law states that for­eign in­vestors and in­vest­ments will be treated no less fa­vour­ably than do­mest­ic in­vestors and in­vest­ments, sub­ject to cer­tain wide-ran­ging ex­cep­tions.Ex­cep­tions/re­stric­tions may be in­tro­duced, amongst oth­ers, to pro­tect the Rus­si­an con­sti­tu­tion­al sys­tem; the mor­al­ity, health and rights of third parties; or in or­der to en­sure state se­cur­ity and/or de­fence. Some of the sec­tors con­cerned are com­men­ted on sep­ar­ately be­low. By and large, for­eign in­vest­ment is per­mit­ted in most sec­tors of the Rus­si­an eco­nomy, in­clud­ing in­vest­ment in port­fo­li­os of gov­ern­ment se­cur­it­ies, stocks and bonds, dir­ect in­vest­ment in new busi­nesses, in the ac­quis­i­tion of ex­ist­ing Rus­si­an-owned com­pan­ies and in joint ven­tures.For­eign in­vestors are pro­tec­ted against na­tion­al­isa­tion or ex­pro­pri­ation, un­less this is provided for by fed­er­al law. In these cases, for­eign in­vestors are en­titled to re­ceive com­pens­a­tion for their in­vest­ment and oth­er losses.Ex­clu­sions/re­stric­tionsIn ad­di­tion to the so-called “Stra­tegic In­dus­tries Law” (please see the Com­mon forms of busi­ness struc­tures for for­eign in­vestors chapter), re­stric­tions on for­eign in­vest­ment ex­ist not­ably in the in­sur­ance and bank­ing sec­tors.Fed­er­al Law No. 4015-1 “On In­sur­ance” dated 27 Novem­ber 1992 cur­rently pro­hib­its for­eign in­vestors from own­ing more than 25% of the total mar­ket for do­mest­ic in­sur­ance. In­sur­ance com­pan­ies in which for­eign share­hold­ers own more than 49% of the charter cap­it­al may not en­gage in cer­tain types of in­sur­ance busi­ness, in­clud­ing, for ex­ample, life as­sur­ance. The ex­ist­ing lim­it­a­tions will be partly lif­ted by the le­gis­lat­ive amend­ments which will be con­sidered in con­nec­tion with WTO ac­ces­sion.In the bank­ing sec­tor, the Cent­ral Bank of Rus­sia has the right to use re­ci­pro­city as a cri­terion to spe­cify the types of busi­ness that sub­si­di­ar­ies or branches of for­eign banks may be li­censed to op­er­ate in Rus­sia. In prac­tice, how­ever, branches of for­eign banks are not able to carry out any bank­ing activ­it­ies on the Rus­si­an mar­ket. Ad­di­tion­ally, a ceil­ing on the total amount of for­eign bank cap­it­al, as a per­cent­age of the total bank cap­it­al in Rus­sia, can be im­posed by fed­er­al law; how­ever, no such lim­it ap­plies at the time of writ­ing. Un­der WTO rules, any such ceil­ing may not be less than 50%.Sanc­tionsIn 2014, the European Uni­on and the United States of Amer­ica (among oth­ers) im­posed in­di­vidu­al sanc­tions on cer­tain Rus­si­an and Ukrain­i­an na­tion­als and en­tit­ies that they be­lieve to be re­spons­ible for the ac­tions which led to the de­clar­a­tion of sov­er­eignty by Crimea, and sub­sequently, it be­com­ing part of the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion. Sanc­tions tar­get­ing cer­tain sec­tors of the Rus­si­an eco­nomy (or so-called “sec­tor­al sanc­tions”), as well as re­gion­al sanc­tions pro­hib­it­ing cer­tain eco­nom­ic activ­ity re­lated to Crimea and Sevastopol, have also been ad­op­ted.In re­tali­ation, Rus­sia ad­op­ted coun­tersanc­tions to pro­hib­it the im­port of cer­tain ag­ri­cul­tur­al products, raw ma­ter­i­als and food­stuffs from coun­tries that have im­posed sanc­tions on Rus­sia. In par­al­lel, it also launched an im­port sub­sti­tu­tion policy (please see the Im­port sub­sti­tu­tion and pro­duc­tion loc­al­isa­tion in Rus­sia chapter).2018 marked a turn­ing point in terms of sanc­tions for Rus­sia. In May, the US en­acted le­gis­la­tion that may res­ult in non-US per­sons be­ing held li­able for know­ingly fa­cil­it­at­ing “sig­ni­fic­ant trans­ac­tions” for or on be­half of per­sons sanc­tioned un­der Ukraine-/Rus­sia-re­lated sanc­tions im­posed by the US (so-called “sec­ond­ary sanc­tions”). In Oc­to­ber 2018, the EU ad­op­ted a new sanc­tions frame­work in con­nec­tion with the use and pro­lif­er­a­tion of chem­ic­al weapons which does not ex­pressly tar­get Rus­sia, but is ex­pec­ted to be used against Rus­sia in fu­ture.Again, Rus­sia re­acted to these de­vel­op­ments. Firstly, it ad­op­ted a frame­work law on meas­ures against un­friendly ac­tions of the US and oth­er for­eign states in June 2018 and im­posed the first sanc­tions un­der such law against Ukrain­i­an in­di­vidu­als and leg­al en­tit­ies in Novem­ber 2018. Secondly, it im­posed du­ties on a se­lec­tion of goods im­por­ted from the US from 6 Au­gust 2018. Thirdly, a ban on the im­port to Rus­sia of a num­ber of goods of Ukrain­i­an ori­gin or trans­it­ing through Ukraine was de­clared in Decem­ber 2018 and ex­pan­ded in scope in Decem­ber 2019.Sanc­tions against Rus­si­aEven though each na­tion­al sanc­tions re­gime will vary in scope, the re­stric­tions im­posed can be broadly char­ac­ter­ised as fol­lows.Un­der the in­di­vidu­al sanc­tions re­gime, travel re­stric­tions and as­set freezes have been im­posed on in­di­vidu­als and en­tit­ies lis­ted un­der the rel­ev­ant leg­al acts.Sec­tor­al sanc­tions have been im­posed on the fol­low­ing sec­tors of Rus­si­an eco­nomy:En­ergy sec­tor: the sale, sup­ply, trans­fer or ex­port of items for cer­tain types of oil ex­plor­a­tion and pro­duc­tion pro­jects in Rus­sia and the pro­vi­sion of as­so­ci­ated ser­vices are pro­hib­ited, or sub­ject to pri­or au­thor­isa­tion by the com­pet­ent au­thor­it­ies of the ex­port­ing coun­try. De­part­ing from pre­vi­ous widely worded pro­hib­i­tions, in Decem­ber 2019, the US ad­op­ted a tar­geted ap­proach in the en­ergy sec­tor by re­strict­ing activ­it­ies con­nec­ted with the con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion of the Nord Stream 2 and Turk­Stream pipelines.Fin­an­cial sec­tor: ma­jor Rus­si­an fin­an­cial in­sti­tu­tions, as well as cer­tain de­fence and en­ergy com­pan­ies, have been pro­hib­ited from deal­ing with bonds, equity or sim­il­ar fin­an­cial in­stru­ments with a ma­tur­ity ex­ceed­ing 14, 30 or 90 days. It is also pro­hib­ited to make loans or cred­it avail­able to any of the en­tit­ies covered by the meas­ures.De­fence sec­tor: Rus­sia is sub­ject to a weapons em­bargo. In ad­di­tion, sup­ply­ing dual use goods and tech­no­logy to Rus­sia is sub­ject to in­di­vidu­al au­thor­isa­tion by the re­spect­ive au­thor­it­ies of the ex­port­ing coun­try. The au­thor­isa­tion will be denied if those items are in­ten­ded for mil­it­ary use or for a mil­it­ary end-user. This type of sanc­tion also af­fects the man­u­fac­ture of civil goods and equip­ment.The activ­it­ies pro­hib­ited un­der re­gion­al sanc­tions in­clude im­port­a­tions from and ex­port­a­tions to Crimea, as well as mak­ing new in­vest­ments (either in gen­er­al or in cer­tain sec­tors).As a res­ult of some re­cent meas­ures aimed at the Rus­si­an state, US banks can no longer par­ti­cip­ate in the primary mar­ket for non-rouble de­nom­in­ated bonds is­sued by the Rus­si­an sov­er­eign and lend non-rouble de­nom­in­ated funds to the Rus­si­an sov­er­eign.Sanc­tions im­posed on Rus­sia are not pro­hib­it­ing all com­mer­cial activ­ity. They are fo­cus­ing on very spe­cif­ic in­di­vidu­als, en­tit­ies, re­gions and eco­nom­ic sec­tors. Com­pan­ies wish­ing to con­tract with Rus­si­an en­tit­ies should carry out en­hanced due di­li­gence to en­sure that they do not be­come in­volved in activ­it­ies pro­hib­ited un­der the rel­ev­ant sanc­tions re­gime.Lob­by­ing­Giv­en how slowly the leg­al cul­ture has de­veloped in Rus­sia, busi­nesses tend not to ex­pend their lob­by­ing ef­forts on at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence the draft­ing of new laws or the ac­tions of those draft­ing them. In­stead, busi­nesses tend to seek de facto spe­cial treat­ment, such as tax de­fer­ments, cus­toms be­ne­fits, op­er­a­tion li­cences and the right to en­gage in cer­tain kinds of activ­ity. In do­ing so, how­ever it may be that these com­pan­ies ex­pose them­selves un­duly to “polit­ic­al risk” upon any change of ad­min­is­tra­tion and com­pan­ies en­ter­ing the mar­ket need to con­sider how se­cure such con­ces­sions might be for their busi­ness in the long term.There are not many leg­ally re­cog­nised lob­by­ing as­so­ci­ations with a large mem­ber­ship base. Prom­in­ent ex­amples of as­so­ci­ations that do ex­ist are the As­so­ci­ation of Rus­si­an Banks, the Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dustry of the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion, the Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pend­ent Trade Uni­ons of Rus­sia and the Uni­on of In­dus­tri­al­ists and En­tre­pren­eurs.Back to top ↑ “The Rus­si­an Civil Code sets out the found­a­tion of civil law and is the key source of law for busi­ness.”  me­di­um­me­di­um­me­di­um
Rus­sia amends laws pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing in­vest­ment
A set of laws that bring im­port­ant changes to le­gis­la­tion on the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of in­vest­ment in Rus­sia was ad­op­ted on 1 April 2020.The changes are ex­pec­ted to give new in­cent­ives to in­vestors...
Pro­long­a­tion of non-work­ing days un­til 30 April 2020 due to COV­ID-19 out­break:...
Dur­ing his na­tion­al ad­dress on 2 April, Pres­id­ent Putin an­nounced his de­cision to pro­long the ini­tial non-work­ing days from 4 April to 30 April 2020 in­clus­ive in or­der to fight against the spread of COV­ID-19...
Do­ing Busi­ness in Rus­sia 2018
We at CMS have now been wel­com­ing in­vestors to Rus­sia for more than 25 years, and we ap­pre­ci­ate the im­port­ance of high-qual­ity, ac­cur­ate in­form­a­tion to the suc­cess of busi­ness here. To help cli­ents, we...
The law on counter-sanc­tions now in force
On 4 June 2018, Fed­er­al Law No. 127-FZ “On Meas­ures (Coun­ter­meas­ures) against Un­friendly Ac­tions of the United States of Amer­ica and Oth­er For­eign States”* (the “Counter-sanc­tions Law”) came in­to...
Ma­jor re­form to state re­gis­tra­tion of im­mov­able prop­erty
Sig­ni­fic­ant changes made in the pro­ced­ure for state re­gis­tra­tion of rights to and trans­ac­tions with im­mov­able prop­erty came in­to force on 1 Janu­ary 2017 in Rus­sia. The main goal of the re­form is to provide...
Rus­si­an goods, works and ser­vices will en­joy pri­or­ity in pro­cure­ment by...
Ef­fect­ive from 1 Janu­ary 2017, pur­chases of goods, works and ser­vices of Rus­si­an ori­gin by cer­tain cat­egor­ies of pur­chasers will have pri­or­ity over those of goods, works and ser­vices of for­eign ori­gin...