17 Jan 2018 16:17

A Just Russia sees no conflict between bill on private military companies, mercenarism counts in Russian Criminal Code

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) - Private military companies that are set up in Russia will be forbidden to violate the sovereignty of other countries, unlike companies in some countries actively involved in changing political regimes in other states, Mikhail Yemelyanov, first deputy head of the Russian State Duma Committee on State-Building and Legislation and one of the authors of a bill on private military companies developed by the party A Just Russia, said on Wednesday.

"Our bill is fundamentally different from existing laws in the West in that we introduce a very clear restriction that Russian private military companies cannot violate the sovereignty of other countries, so that they would be able to act in territories of other countries only at the invitation or with the consent of the legitimate government. Such companies in the West are often involved in various military coups and illegal military operations in territories of other countries, which is pure mercenarism," Yemelyanov told Interfax on Wednesday.

Russian private military companies in foreign countries would be required to act in strict compliance with international law, he said.

The adoption of legislation on private military companies is not at odds with the fact that mercenarism is a crime in Russia, Yemelyanov said. "The article of the Criminal Code dealing with mercenarism remains with respect to illegal membership in such groups. If we legalize private military companies, they will act here within a certain framework, and this won't be mercenarism in any way," he said.

The parliamentary faction of A Just Russia has submitted several relevant bills to the Duma, which rejected one of them, shelving the rest. Now the faction wants to update the bill in light of today's realities, Yemelyanov said.

The document would first have to be reviewed by the government and would then be submitted to the Duma. The text of the bill will be ready by next week, Yemelyanov said.

A key provision is that private military companies will be set up within Russia's jurisdiction rather than in offshore territories, as happens now, he said.

"It's important that they be set up in Russia, within Russian jurisdiction, under the Defense Ministry's control, and be licensed in Russia," Yemelyanov said.

Many Russian companies work abroad, including those that build infrastructure in regions where the situation is unsafe; these companies need protection, which private military companies could provide, Yemelyanov said. "It would be reasonable if Russian private military companies do this. Why give up the market?" he said.

A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov said earlier that members of the party's State Duma faction would submit a revised bill on private military companies and expected its support after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke in favor of developing a legislative basis for the operation of private military companies.