Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted to the State Duma a draft law on bail for people accused of economic crimes, the lower house of parliament said Monday on its website.
The bill sets a minimum bail of 100,000 rubles ($3,300) for minor offenses and 500,000 rubles ($16,600) for serious crimes. Securities and real estate could also be accepted as bail.
Medvedev said on Friday that people suspected of economic crimes should be released on bail more often to prevent jail being used to pressure businessmen, as well as to cut the prison population.
Bail is rarely used in Russia, where suspects can spend two or three years in detention pending trial. Intimidation by security forces is another problem often voiced by Russian defense lawyers and rights groups.
Last November a lawyer representing a London-based hedge fund died in a Moscow jail while awaiting trial on tax evasion charges. Supporters say Sergei Magnitsky was denied access to medical treatment.
The Supreme Court said earlier this month it was drafting legislative amendments to introduce the 5,000 ruble lower bail bracket for insignificant economic crimes and 200,000 ($6,600) for major offences. The Justice Ministry proposed 50,000 rubles ($1,600) and 250,000 rubles ($8,300) respectively.
Meeting with business leaders and the prosecutor general in his country residence, Medvedev said higher bails and written pledges not to leave town or country during the investigation would help prevent "corrupt security officers" from jailing entrepreneurs and seizing their companies.
The Russian government has moved to mitigate legislation on economic crimes. A law banning confinement for suspected tax dodgers came into force in January 2010. Suspects who face tax evasion charges for the first time or paid their arrears will now be able to avoid prosecution.
And parliament is considering a bill that curbs the practice of pre-trial detention for suspects in economic crimes.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the now-defunct Yukos oil firm and once Russia's richest man, who is in prison on large-scale fraud and tax evasion charges, was denied bail in 2003 and was tried behind closed doors, triggering accusations in Russia and abroad of a politically motivated trial.
MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti)