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Aleksandr Konovalov Reflects On SPBILF 2018

Aleksandr Konovalov, Acting Minister of Justice of the Rusian Federation, held a traditional press briefing to reflect on the VIII St. Petersburg International Legal Forum. The Acting Minister said that this year the Forum has been attended by more than from thousands participants from 90 countries. Aleskandr Konovalov emphasized that the State Hermitage has a hard time accommodating such a large number of guests.   

 “The most important thing is to provide an opportunity to be engaged in discussions to those who would like to have it. So far the Hermitage has had to put up with us as it was predetermined by certain circumstances. We came here five years ago after the reconstruction, and since then participants of the Forum together with visitors of the exhibition held in The General Staff Building are growing in number. However, despite certain challenges this venue has brought us all together. We are committed to organize discussions at the Forum, especially since they are becoming more and more vibrant and varied in their content,” Aleksandr Konovalov explained.

In his speech the Acting Minister addressed cryptocurrency regulation, a bill draft to criminalize adherence to anti-Russia sanctions, the Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ law, reforms of the penitentiary system.

Participants discussed the Ministry of Justice's feedback on the bill draft to criminalize adherence to anti-Russia sanctions. The draft received positive feedback from the Ministry, Aleksandr Konovalov noted. The department introduced a set of amendments related to other regulations, including amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. Konovalov added that “no ;legislative act is drafted to be applied unchanged for centuries”.

Aleksandr Konovalov also commented upon current status of organizations that were subject to the Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ law. He mentioned that the register contains 75 organizations, which is half the initial number, because some of them decided not to use foreign funds while others ceased to exist. The Acting Minister believes that the law does not discriminate non-profit organizations. He is confident that full information must be disclosed to society by every NGO.  

Regarding the status of cryptocurrencies in Russia, Aleksandr Konovalov believes that this domain requires special regulation efforts. He explained that the Ministry is not intended to equate financial blockchain systems to e-money and cash. They will be treated as property. Aleksandr Konovalov acknowledged that people use these systems to rightfully make their life easier.

 “Today’s law system does not entirely meet the needs of this domain, the same applies to cryptocurrencies. Clearly, cryptocurrency transactions will need receive special regulatory treatment. It is essential to make it secure for everyone who deals with cryptocurrency and to prevent the emergence of new Ponzi or pyramid schemes,” emphasized the Acting Minister.