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COVID-19: criminal and administrative liability introduced for violations committed during special legal regimes

Pepeliaev Group advises that special types of liability have been incorporated into the Russian Criminal Code and the Russian Code of Administrative Offences for violations of legal regimes which have been or could be introduced against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

The above amendments include administrative fines:[1]

  •  for violating rules of public sanitation and disease control (failure to comply with legal orders) during a state of emergency, a quarantine or a threat of spread of a disease [2]:
    • up to RUB 40,000 for individuals, up to RUB 150,000 for individual entrepreneurs and officers, and up to RUB 500,000 for legal entities,
    • up to RUB 300,000 for individuals, up to RUB 500,000 for officers, and up to RUB 1 million for individual entrepreneurs and legal entities – if the violations have resulted in harm to health or in death;
  •  for failing to comply with the rules of conduct during a high alert regime in an area where there is a state of emergency or when a state of emergency is threatened[4]:
    •  up to RUB 30,000 for individuals, up to RUB 50,000 for individual entrepreneurs and officers, and up to RUB 300,000 – for legal entities,
    • up to RUB 50,000 for individuals, up RUB 500,000 for officers, and up to RUB 1 million for individual entrepreneurs and legal entities – if the violation has resulted in harm to health or damage to property;

The amendments provide for criminal liability[5]:

  •  for violations of the rules of public sanitation and disease control [6]:
    • which have resulted (or threatened to result) in large-scale disease or in the poisoning of people – from a fine from RUB 700,000 to imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years,
    • have resulted in the death of a person - - from a fine from RUB 2 million to imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years,
    • have resulted in a death or two and more people – imprisonment for a period of up to 7 years;
  •  for publicly disseminating information that is known to be false and is recognised to be socially significant information[7]:
    • from a fine of RUB 700,000 to custodial restraint for a period of up to 3 years, if the action did not have any consequences,
    • from a fine of up to RUB 1,500,000 to imprisonment for a period of up to 3 years, if the action resulted in harm to health,
    • from a fine of up to RUB 2 million to imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years, if the action resulted in the death of a person or other grave consequences.

The amendments came into effect on 1 April 2020. For more details, please see below.

1. Liability for violating rules of public sanitation and disease control.

1.1. Administrative liability[8] has been introduced for the following offences committed during a state of emergency or during quarantine or when there is a threat of the spread of a dangerous disease

  • a violation of legislation aimed at securing the sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the public (a violation of current rules for public sanitation and disease control, and of measures aimed at fighting against the epidemic),
  • failing to comply, within the established timeframes, with a legal order (resolution) or a requirement of a body (officer) responsible for federal state sanitary and epidemiological supervision regarding public sanitation and disease control (prevention) measures.

Quarantine means restrictive measures carried out in a relevant territory (article 6.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences).

An administrative sanction

depends on the consequences in the form of harm to the health of or the death of a person

If there are no consequences

If there are consequences[9]

- for legal entities – a fine from RUB 200,000 to 500,000, or a suspension of their operations for up to 90 days;

- for officers and individual entrepreneurs – a fine from RUB 50,000 to 150,000 (individual entrepreneurs may also be penalised by having their operations suspended for up to 90 days);

- for individuals – a fine from RUB 15,000 to 40,000.

- for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs – a fine from RUB 500,000 to 1,000,000, or a suspension of their operations for up to 90 days;

- for officers – a fine from RUB 300,000 to 500,000, or disqualification for a period from 1 to 3 years;

- for individuals – a fine from RUB 150,000 to 300,000.


Liability under this article may arise for a violation of current sanitary rules and regulations or orders of Rospotrebnadzor (e.g., Rospotrebnadzor’s Letter No. 02/3853-2020-27 dated 10 March 2020) if committed during a period of restrictive measures (these have been established for Moscow by the Moscow Mayor’s Order No. 12-UM dated 5 March 2020)


1.2. Article 236 of the Criminal Code which establishes criminal liability for a violation of rules of public sanitation and disease control which has resulted in unintentional large-scale disease or in the poisoning of people (article 236(1)) or in the death of a person (article 236(2)) has been amended as follows:

  • the classifying sign of article 236(1) of the Criminal Code has been supplemented with the wording: “either creating a threat of such consequences”;
  • article 236 has also been supplemented with part 3 establishing liability for the same actions that resulted through negligence in the death of two or more persons.

An individual can be held liable under this article if, for example, he/she violated the established self-isolation regime when he/she was treated at home while diagnosed with the new coronavirus infection, or after he/she returned to Russia from a foreign trip. As the wording “creating a threat of such circumstances” was added to the article, no actual harm needs to be proven to impose liability under article 236(1) of the Criminal Code.


The criminal penalty under all parts of article 236 of the Criminal Code has been increased
:

  • under part 1 – from a fine from RUB 500,000 to 700,000 to imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years;
  • under part 2, if “…resulted through negligence in the death of a person” – from a fine from RUB 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 to imprisonment for a period of between 3 and 5 years;
  • under part 3, if “…resulted in death of two and more persons” – compulsory labour for a period of 4 to 5 years, or imprisonment for a period of between 5 and 7 years.

Cases under part 3 of article 236 will be investigated by the Investigative Committee of Russia, while cases under parts 1 and 2 of article 236 will be investigated by investigators of internal affairs bodies. District courts will have jurisdiction over such cases.

2. Liability for disseminating false information.

Federal laws supplement the Code of Administrative Offences and the Criminal Code with rules concerning liability for disseminating information that is known to be inaccurate (false) about circumstances posing a threat to the life and security of the public.

Circumstances that pose a threat to the life and security of the public are recognised to be natural and man-made emergencies, including epidemics, epizootic and other circumstances resulting from incidents, natural hazards, catastrophes, natural calamities and other disasters which have resulted (or could result) in fatalities, in harm to the health of people and the environment, in considerable financial losses and in an imbalance of the living conditions of people (notes to article 207.1 of the Criminal Code and to article 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offences).


2.1. The amendments stipulate that parts 10.1 and 10.2 of article 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offences establish administrative liability for legal entities for disseminating inaccurate information which has manifested itself in:

  • the dissemination in media outlets and internet of information that is known to be inaccurate, under the guise of accurate information, regarding circumstances posing a threat to life and security of the public and/or measures taken to ensure security of people and territories, or the means and methods of protection against such circumstances;
  • the dissemination in media outlets and internet publicly significant information that is known to be inaccurate, under the guise of accurate publicly significant information, provided that it resulted in death or harm being caused to the health or property of a person, large-scale disturbances and/or a violation of public security, a shut-down of facilities that are vital for life, of transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, power energy, industrial or telecom facilities.

The administrative sanction for legal entities

depends on the consequences in the form of harm to health, damage to property, or a violation of public order and security

If there are no consequences – part 10.1

If there are consequences – part 10.2

In the case of a repeated violation – part 11[10]

a fine from RUB 1,500,000 to 3,000,000, with the possible confiscation of the item of the violation.

a fine from RUB 3,000,000 to 5,000,000, with the possible confiscation of the item of the violation.

a fine from RUB 5,000,000 to 10,000,000.


The liability under this article is provided only for legal entities and may arise for publicly posting (including in social networks or on a company’s website) of information that is known to be inaccurate regarding the epidemiological situation or measures taken in connection with it (such as about a curfew or panic buying, when no such circumstances exist in reality).


2.2. In line with the new provisions introduced in the Code of Administrative Offences, the Criminal Code was supplemented with articles concerning criminal liability for publicly disseminating information that is known to be false which has manifested itself in:

  • disseminating information that is known to be false, under the guise of accurate information, regarding circumstances posing a threat to life and security of the public and/or measures taken to ensure the security of people and territories, or the means and methods of protection against such circumstances (article 207.1 of the Criminal Code);
  • disseminating publicly significant information that is known to be false, under the guise of accurate publicly significant information, which has resulted through negligence in harm to health (article 207.2(1) of the Criminal Code), death or other grave consequences (article 207.2(2) of the Criminal Code).

In contrast to the Code of Administrative Offences, the disposition of the provisions of the Criminal Code does not refer to publications in media outlets or internet. Consequently, criminal liability may arise out of any public address to third parties, irrespective of the form of such address, which contains information that is known to be false about the epidemiological situation or measures that are being taken.


The criminal sanction depends on the consequences
and has been established as follows:

  • under article 207.1 – from a fine from RUB 300,000 to 700,000 to custodial restraint for a period of up to 3 years;
  • under article 207.2 (1), if actions “…resulted through negligence in harm to the health of a person” – from a fine from RUB 700,000 to 1,500,000 to imprisonment for a period of up to 3 years;
  • under article 207.2(3), if actions “…resulted through negligence in the death of a person or other grave consequences” – from a fine from RUB 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 to imprisonment for a period of up to 5 years.

The cases under this category will be investigated by investigators of the Investigative Committee of Russia. District courts will have jurisdiction over such cases.

3. Administrative liability for breaking the rules of conduct during a state of emergency or a high alert regime.

The Code of Administrative Offences was supplemented with article 20.6.1 concerning liability for failing to comply with the rules of conduct when a high-alert regime is introduced in the territory where a threat of emergency persists, or in the area of a state of emergency (except for the above cases stipulated by article 6.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences).

By Federal Law No. 98-FZ dated 1 April 2020, powers to introduce a state of emergency were conferred on the Russian Government.


An administrative sanction

depends on consequences in the form of harm to health or damage to property

If there are no consequences

If there are consequences[11] or in the event of a repeated offence

- for legal entities– a fine from RUB 100,000 to 300,000;

- for individual entrepreneurs – a fine from RUB 30,000 to 50,000;

- for officers – a fine from RUB 10,000 to 50,000;

- for individuals – a fine from RUB 1,000 to 30,000.

- for legal entities and individual entrepreneurs – a fine from RUB 500,000 to 1,000,000, or suspension of operations for up to 90 days;

- for officers – a fine from RUB 300,000 to 500,000, or disqualification for a period from 1 to 3 years;

- for individuals – a fine from RUB 15,000 to 50,000.


Liability under this article is stipulated for cases not covered by article 6.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences, such as when rules are violated that have been established by the authorities of a region (e.g. Resolution No. 108-PG of the Moscow Region's Governor dated 12 March 2020 concerning a high-alert regime being introduced).


4. Entry into force and other changes in administrative legislation

The federal laws that were adopted were to take effect once they were officially published. The laws were published on 1 April 2020 on the official legal portal: http://publication.pravo.gov.ru

Please note that Federal Law No. 99-FZ “On amending the Russian Code of Administrative Offences” dated 1 April 2020 has also introduced other amendments to the Code, specifically in terms of liability for violating legislation concerning the circulation of medicines (article 14.4.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences), the pricing procedure (article 14.6 of the Code of Administrative Offences) and illegal private investigation or security activity (article 20.16 of the Code of Administrative Offences).

For more details, please go to: https://www.pgplaw.ru/analytics-and-brochures/alerts/changes-in-some-rules-of-the-code-of-administrative-offences/

Help from your adviser

Pepeliaev Group is ready to provide you with legal assistance and support on any legal matters that may arise in connection with the measures taken to fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection, including issues of criminal and administrative liability.



[1] Federal Law No. 99-FZ “On amending the Russian Code of Administrative Offences” dated 1 April 2020.

[2] Amendments to article 6.3. of the Code of Administrative Offences.

[3] Amendments to article 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offences.

[4] New article 20.6.1. of the Code of Administrative Offences.

[5] Federal Law No. 100-FZ "On amending the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and articles 31 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation” dated 1 April 2020.

[6] Amendments to article 236 of the Criminal Code.

[7] New articles 207.1 and 207.2 of the Criminal Code.

[8] Article 6.3(2) and 6.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences.

[9] Provided that there are no signs of a crime.

[10] Please note that part 11 provides for liability for a repeated administrative offence under article 13.15(10) of the Code of Administrative Offences.

[11] If there are no signs of a crime.

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