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Russia Legal News Blast, Jan. 17, 2011

Below is the first installment of what we are hoping will become a regular feature on this blog, courtesy of our Moscow-based law office.  This brief summary of legal news from the Russian media is intended as a resource for practicing lawyers and international observers of judicial matters inside the Russian Federation.

The State Duma has approved a sweeping set of changes of the Russian criminal court following its first reading of the bill.  The changes concern mostly economic and white collar crime and are seen as President Medvedev’s response to the outcry from the Russian business community to misuses of criminal justice by the police.  The general reaction to this legal reform package has been quiet – too little too late.

The status of the Investigations Committee, a Russian analogue of FBI, was raised at the beginning of the year to the level of a Ministerial Agency, on par with the Ministry of Interior, under the direct supervision of the presidency. 

Eminent domain decisions may be delegated, following the introduction of draft amendments to the Russian land code by the Highest Arbitrage court.  According to proposed amendments, government agencies would be granted permission to decide on land plots to be expropriated for state purposes. 

The highest Arbitrazh court has postponed for two months its decision on a dispute between a Russian company and Champagne Louis Roederer concerning the Cristal trademark. Soyuzplodimpoprt tries to strip protection from Champagne Louis Roederer brand in Russia with reference to the trademark Kristal that the company owns and which is a popular brand of Russian vodka.