OREANDA-NEWS. October 15, 2008. At the meeting the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS Russia) and non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition" discussed the "second antimonopoly package" - measures and amendments to the legislation, aimed at developing competition on the markets in the Russian Federation, reported the press-centre of FAS Russia.

Opening the meeting, Igor Artemyev, the Head of FAS Russia, informed the audience that the "second antimonopoly package" has two parts. "The first part has already been approved in principle by the Government of the Russian Federation and is being scrutinized by the ministries and governmental agencies. The second part of the measures and amendments to the legislation proposed by FAS Russia will be sent for further revision" - noted Mr Artemyev.

The Head of FAS Russia emphasized that at the moment the following FAS Russia's proposals on amending the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Violations have been approved in principle:

- Applying administrative liability in form of disqualification to the state and municipal civil officers

- Imposing administrative liability on the officers of the state bodies and local self-government bodies for antimonopoly violations

- Establishing the right of the antimonopoly bodies to appeal the court judgments which revoke the determinations of the antimonopoly bodies on imposing administrative charges.

The term "state aid" will be replaced with "state preferences"; governmental officials will be held administratively liable for offering unjustified state and municipal preferences to economic entities.

The government has approved the FAS Russia's position on the general rules for non-discriminatory access, including one of the most controversial issues - expanding the principles of the law on state procurement over natural monopolies and government corporations.

The Head of FAS Russia drew attention to the fact that the government has supported one of main initiatives of the "second antimonopoly package" - the new wording of Article 178 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, imposing criminal liability for the most severe antimonopoly violations (cartels and repeated abuse of dominant position within a certain period).

One of most widely discussed prospective amendments to the Federal Law "On Protection of Competition" - refusal to a certain extent to use dominance thresholds and use the term "abusing market power" - needs a follow-up revision.

The meeting heard various reports and presentations on the main provisions of the antimonopoly package: on abusing market power, procedural rights of the antimonopoly bodies in terms of inspections etc., retail regulation, monopolistically high and low prices.

The experts of the non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition" drew attention of the FAS Russia's senior officers to various legal issues of the draft legislation in question.

As pointed out by Eugen Voevodin, the Chairman of the General Council of the non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition", "the goal of today's event is to initiate the dialogue with FAS Russia on proposed amendments".

He added that in the near future the non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition" plans to organize several venues to discuss the issues with representatives of business community, and legal and economic experts.

Members of the non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition" underlined that some initiatives give FAS Russia's a wider scope of reference than even the Tax Inspection: for instance, the Antimonopoly Service will be able to obtain and use the results of operational and investigative activities in its work. The amendments also set the 8-month limit for the inspections to be carried out by the Service, which is too long according to the lawyers.

As suggested by Mr Khokhlov, a lawyer of DLA Piper, an international legal firm, "It is necessary to set a time framework for such inspections and separate scheduled and unscheduled inspections. Also the difference between seizure of the documents and an ordinary search should be more precise".

The meeting expressed a unified opinion that the "second antimonopoly package" should be revised by expert communities.

Summing up, Igor Artemyev, the Head of FAS Russia, said that at the session of then Interstate Council for Antimonopoly Policy (MSAP) in Astana all countries supported formation of a CIS expert association of lawyers and economists, specializing in competition policy, similar to the non-commercial partnership "Promoting Competition".