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Russia: Law Requires Terrorists to Compensate Their Victims

(Oct. 25, 2013) On October 25, 2013, the State Duma of the Russian Federation (the lower house of the legislature) passed a law aimed at establishing a mechanism of compensation payments for damage inflicted by terrorist activities. The law states that damages will be paid by the terrorists and their relatives. (Federal Law on Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation [in Russian], State Duma official website (last visited Sept. 30, 2013).)

It is expected that after approval by the Federation Council (the upper chamber of the legislature) the law will be signed within a short period of time by President Vladimir Putin, who had introduced this legislative initiative. When enacted, a number of Russian laws, including the Criminal Code and the Federal Law on Combating Terrorism, will be amended in order to incorporate a new provision. It will call for the compensation for damages caused by terrorist attacks, including non-pecuniary damages, to be carried out at the expense of the persons who committed these attacks and their family members and other persons whose lives, health, and well-being are dear to terrorists due to personal relationships. (Id. art. 4.)

The legislation also provides for stricter control over property that can be used to reimburse victims of terrorism and states that the decision on compensation can be made by a court if reasonable grounds exist to believe that the money and other property of relatives and loved ones of terrorists were acquired in connection with terrorist activity. (Id.) Additionally, the law introduces the elimination of the statute of limitations for claims for compensation of harm to the life and health of a person, if such harm was caused by a terrorist attack. If a terrorist attack resulted in property damage, then the statute of limitations for the damage claims will be extended to the length of the statute of limitations prescribed for the specific crime committed by terrorists. (Id.)

The law sets forth longer terms of imprisonment for a number of terror-related offenses, including receiving training in terrorist camps and establishing and participating in terrorist communities and organizations. The legislation also makes it a crime to participate in armed groups not sanctioned by Russian federal law or operating in the territory of another state, if such a military formation is not sanctioned by the domestic law of a foreign country, and acting contrary to the interests of the Russian Federation. (Id. art 2.)

The Chairwoman of the Duma’s Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, Irina Yarovaya, said that this legislative initiative of the country’s President was treated as a priority by the State Duma, given its exceptional public importance to protecting people’s lives and ensuring state security and public safety. (Irina Yarovaya: Terrorism Requires Special Approach to Establishment of Responsibility for Committed Crimes [in Russian], the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption website (Sept. 30, 2013).)

According to Russian government statistics, over 260 acts of terrorism were committed and 92 terrorist-related crimes were prevented in Russia in 2012. (U.S. Department of State, Russia, COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM 2012 (May 30, 2013).) Russian security experts fear that the terrorism threat in the country may intensify as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Russian city of Sochi approach. (Aleksei Il’in, Russia Is Among the Top Ten Countries at Risk from Terrorism [in Russian], BBC Russia (Dec. 11, 2012).)

Prepared by Svitlana Vodyanyk, Foreign Law Consultant, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research.