THE Cyprus property market is about to be dealt another blow, this time by the Russian government.
Late last year the State Duma (Russia’s Lower House) approved the first reading of a bill banning state officials and civil servants from owning property abroad.
This bill amends an existing law “On Countering Corruption” and it was passed by 437 MPs with no one voting against and just one abstention.
According to the draft law, the ban will apply to civil servants, MPs, those serving in the military, employees of the Interior Ministry, Federal Penal Service, Federal Drug Control Service, Investigation Committee, prosecutors’ offices and customs.
It will also apply to the spouses and underage children of the groups listed above – and the officials cannot own real estate, bank accounts or securities abroad.
Furthermore, civil servants who already own foreign property will have to get rid of it by June 1, 2013. If an official inherits foreign assets they must be sold or passed to another person within one year after the property rights come into force.
In addition, those leaving state posts will be banned from acquiring foreign assets for a period of three years after they leave office.
The draft bill imposes fines ranging from 5 to 10 million roubles (€125,000 to €250,000) or a prison term of up to five years for violations.
Although the bill still has some flaws, it has received the full support of President Putin who spoke about such measures in an address he made to the Federal Assembly late last year.
In his Duma speech MP Vyacheslav Lysakov of the majority United Russia party called the bill “new morals for the national elite” and emphasized that it had “a great virtue component” in it.
The bill is expected to pass its second and third readings unopposed.
Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for Russians and the 2011 official population census showed that around 9,000 of them are now resident on the island.