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Putin's Proposal to Restore Tax Fraud Investigative Authority to Power Ministries

Russia's Vladamir Putin has presented a bill that will restore the right of investigators to open tax fraud cases without a request from tax authorities. Skeptics fear that businesses will face renewed persecution. Should Putin's attempt be successful, the amendments to the criminal code would reverse a 2011 reform by then-President Dmitry Medvedev who hoped to prevent extortion and arbitrary arrests of businessmen by corrupt law enforcement officials.

Putin believes that current requirements which force tax evasion to be initiated by tax inspectors has led to delays and an increasing amount of unsolved cases. The new bill, he says, would allow such cases to be opened by prosecutors and would reduce delays and enable a timely resolution.

Officials in both the Finance and Economic Development Ministries weren't prepared for the bill, saying it came as a surprise. Many in the business community are far from pleased with Putin's proposal, which would remove a block to corporate raids by corrupt law enforcement officials.

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