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    Russian lawmakers pass bill on nuclear reform in second reading

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    The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, passed in the second reading Wednesday a presidential bill to reform the country's nuclear power sector and facilitate its development.

    MOSCOW, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, passed in the second reading Wednesday a presidential bill to reform the country's nuclear power sector and facilitate its development.

    The document, which lawmakers adopted in the first reading last December, aims to establish a state-controlled holding company, Atomenergoprom, using the sector's civilian assets, and to subsequently allow other Russian corporate entities to possess non-weapons-grade nuclear materials, nuclear installations and nuclear storage facilities.

    Exclusive federal ownership of nuclear materials, nuclear installations and nuclear storage facilities is currently a major impediment to the development of the nuclear power sector.

    The revised bill, containing a few clarifying amendments, was supported Wednesday by 372 deputies, with 226 votes required for passage. Forty-three MPs voted against the draft.

    The new amendments include the right of federal nuclear agencies and bodies to exercise full operational control over their assets.

    They also stipulate that all transactions involving shares of the newly formed holding [Atomenergoprom] and its subsidiaries should be conducted only with the approval of the Russian president.

    Atomenergoprom, which will be wholly controlled by the government, is expected to be a large full-cycle corporation engaged in activities ranging from uranium extraction, fuel fabrication and electric power generation, to the construction of nuclear power plants, both domestically and abroad. The new corporation will also include nuclear engineering units, as well as design and research institutes.

    The new state-run holding will be established in two stages.

    During the initial stage, Russia's nuclear fuel producer and supplier TVEL will become a subsidiary of Atomenergoprom, with 100% of its shares to be assigned to the charter capital of the new corporation, while nuclear enriching entities will join the parent company of the new nuclear holding, as requested by the defense ministry.

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