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Keep your cash in the country: New law means Russia’s most important officials will be banned from having foreign bank accounts

Keep your cash in the country: New law means Russia’s most important officials will be banned from having foreign bank accounts
Members of Russia's Security Council will be forbidden from keeping their money and valuables in banks outside of Russia, after the country's parliament passed a law restricting financial freedoms for the most powerful officials.

The bill, which passed through parliament on Tuesday, will bring the law in line with the new constitutional reforms. In July, Russian voters approved a wide-ranging package of amendments to the constitution, including a restriction on high-level officials having foreign citizenship or residency.

Once signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, members of the Security Council will be prohibited from storing cash and valuables outside the country’s borders. The Security Council is chaired by the president and comprises 12 other permanent officials, plus many more non-permanent members. Included in the permanent representation are the prime minister and the ministers for defense, foreign affairs, and internal affairs, as well the director of the Federal Security Service.

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The new bill also establishes rules for the country's Commissioner for Human Rights, who must now permanently reside in Russia and not have foreign accounts. According to the speaker of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, it is “extremely important” that the human rights ombudsman be “independent.”

Throughout Putin's presidency, he has focused on restricting the country's most powerful from moving their assets abroad, adter the chaos of the 1990s. In 2016, parliament passed a law banning its members and other government officials from owning “foreign financial instruments,” such as securities.

Aside from restrictions on members of the Security Council, the parliament also passed a law tightening up rules for workers in the military sector, as well as Russia's two main intelligence agencies, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Once signed by Putin, employees will no longer be allowed to have a foreign residence permit, unless necessary for operations.

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