Russia Legal News Blast, Jan. 20, 2011

The High Arbitrazh Court has adopted guidelines regarding the demolition of “unlawful constructions.” Following the highly publicized debacle of the “Rechnik” development, said to be one of the reasons of the dismissal of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, demolition has become a hot button political issue. Now, the HAC has ruled out any demolition of “unlawful” construction without a prior judicial authorization. Until now, the practice has been an arbitrary expropriation and demolition of prime property on the basis of a fiat of local authorities. Under article 222 of the Russian civil code, “unlawful construction” is understood any construction erected in violation of any of the multiple building regulations. Previously, only an allegation of a breach was enough to destroy an expensive house on prime real estate. Now, at least, judges would take some part. In another decision, the HAC ruled that a prior judicial authorization IS NOT needed when eliminating an illegal advertising construction (e.g. a free standing billboard erected without a proper authorization of local authorities

During his presentation at the Davos Economic Forum, President Dmitry Medvedev said he intends to propose a new international copyright convention to deal with issues of copyright in electronic media. The Russian president continues his efforts to advance internationally respectable legal initiatives in the wake of the Khodorkovsky/Lebedev verdict.The head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin has signed an order enjoining his subordinates to treat application of Russian citizens “politely and attentively”. The first known order of this nature was signed by Count Arakcheev, close to Tsar Alexander I, and analogous orders have periodically appeared throughout subsequent Russian/Soviet/Russian history.The State Duma is currently debating a new police law which is meant to replace the current law regulating security and militia. The big news is that the decision was taken to eliminate the most odious provision of the draft – so-called presumption of legality of policemen. Under the provision, any action of a policeman was to be deemed legal unless proven otherwise in a Russian court.