Belarus: Regulatory updates affecting business for July – September 2019

We are pleased to present a brief overview of the main regulatory changes affecting the business environment in Belarus for July – September 2019.

Criminal liability of a business

  • The size of “large damage” and of “especially large damage” (income) entailing criminal liability for economic crimes have increased up to 1000 base values and up to 2500 base values accordingly.
  • Article 243 of the Criminal Code of Belarus “Evasion of taxes and duties” has been set out in the new edition. For the purposes of this article, a large amount of damage shall be not less than 2,000 base values (earlier 1,000 base values) and especially large damage, not less than 3500 base values (earlier 2500 base values).
  • Criminal liability for illegal entrepreneurship without state registration or execution of business activities prohibited by the law has been abolished. Business activities without a special permit (license) entailing income in large and especially large amounts still entail criminal liability.
  • Article 224 “Violation of the procedure for opening accounts outside the Republic of Belarus”, Article 232 “Obstruction of legitimate business activities”, Article 234 “Pseudo entrepreneurship”, Article 244 “Violation of antitrust legislation”, and Article 249 “Discrediting the business reputation of a competitor” have also been excluded from the Criminal Code of Belarus.
  • General forcible withdrawal has been abolished and special forcible withdrawal has been introduced. Assets (property) obtained by criminal means or acquired with funds obtained by such means, income derived from the use of this property, as well as the objects of the crime, if these are not returned back to a victim or another person, and tools and means of committing a crime belonging to the person who committed the crime are subject to special confiscation. Instead offorcible confiscation of property, a fine from 300 to 500 base values will be applied as an additional penalty.
  • Deprivation of liberty may not be imposed on a firstly convicted person who has committed a crime that does not pose a great public danger or comprises a less serious crime against the order of economic activity (except for smuggling, illegal export or transfer for export of objects of export control, laundering of funds obtained by criminal means).
  • Theft by means of using computer equipment can result in imprisonment of 5 to 12 years (Article 212(4) of the Criminal Code)
  • For bribery and mediation in bribery (Art. 431, 432 of the Criminal Code) a voluntary statement of deeds, but also actively contributing to the disclosure and (or) investigation of the crime has been introduced as a condition for exemption from criminal liability.
  • Criminal liability has been introduced for providing illegal remuneration to a state authority employee or that of any other state organization who is not an official. This provides for the release of the person who provided the remuneration from criminal liability in cases of extortion of remuneration against him, or if this person, after provision of remuneration, voluntarily declared what he had done and actively contributed to the disclosure and (or) investigation of the crime.

The relevant amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus have entered into force on July 19, 2019.

Licensing of certain types of activities

Effective on August 1, 2019, export licensing of certain timber outside the EAEU has been introduced:

  • timber classified by codes 4403, 4404 of Unified Nomenclature of foreign economic activities of the EAEU (for example, cooperage wood, split logs, wood chips and similar wood, rough wood, barky or barkless, with or without sapwood, roughly edged or neokantian) will be exported from Belarus outside the EAEU customs territory based on general or single licences issued by the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade in coordination with the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture.
  • The Ministry of Forestry agrees on the application for a license for the export of timber in the presence of an agreement concluded between the Ministry and a company on the terms of timber supply. Resolution of the Council of Ministers of 22.07.2009 № 481 is valid for 6 months.

Beginning from October 1, 2019, the licensing of the following activities is abolished (Decree of The President of the Republic of Belarus No. 326 of 02.09.2019):

  • diagnosis, disease prevention, and treatment of animals
  • protection of a legal entity’s employees and property
  • post-mortem diagnosis
  • trade in fire protection equipment
  • wholesale and retail trade of fuel oil and oil bitumen
  • storage and reception in pledge of precious metals and stones
  • stream television programs and on-air broadcasting of sound programs

It is prohibited to suspend and terminate the license for minor violations and formal misconduct. Simplified requirements for the provision of medical services, including reduced requirements for the experience of medical workers, eliminates the need to staff non-governmental organizations with health doctors of only the first and highest qualification category.

Visa-free entry and exit of foreign citizens in certain territories

Beginning from November 7, 2019 the period of visa-free stay for tourist purposes will be increased to 15 days for citizens of 73 countries on the visa-free territory “Brest-Grodno”. Two additional checkpoints on the state border “Bienyakoni” and “Berestovitsa” will be introduced.

For visa-free entry into the Republic of Belarus and exit from the Republic of Belarus at checkpoints, citizens intending to visit the relevant territory are required to present the following documents: a valid document for travel abroad and a document granting the right to individual or group visits to the visa-free territory “Brest-Grodno”.

Elaboration of construction norms and rules

The Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus No. 517 (hereinafter – the Resolution) was adopted on August 7, 2019 in order to implement the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus of June 5, 2019 No. 217 “On construction norms and rules”.

The elaboration of construction norms and rules goes through the following stages:

  • preparation for the elaboration of construction norms and rules
  • development and consideration of draft construction norms and rules
  • development and consideration of the final version of the draft construction norms and rules
  • examination of the project of construction norms and rules
  • approval of construction norms and rules
  • verification, revision, modification, and termination of construction norms and rules

The forms of the terms of reference for the elaboration of the project of construction norms and rules and other necessary documents are also approved.

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We hope you find this newsletter useful. SCHNEIDER GROUP is ready to provide professional support in our countries. We contribute our experience and knowledge for the growth of your business. Should you have any questions or would like our assistance in Belarus, please contact our expert.

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Our expert

Sergey Odintsov
Certified Legal & Tax Advisor, Head of Tax & Legal, Minsk
+375 / 17 / 290 25 57

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