The changes come despite the fact that the initial draft of thebill, approved by the Lower House only a few months ago, banned allforeign real estate, bank accounts and securities belonging tostate officials and civil servants of all levels, includingmilitary servicemen and customs officers, as well as to theirfamilies.President Vladimir Putin recently submitted his own much milderbill to parliament, that only bans bank accounts and securitiesownership.One of the sponsors of the harsher draft, deputy Duma speakerSergey Zheleznyak (United Russia) told Izvestia daily that therewere no plans to recall the bill, but said MPs agreed to bring itcloser with the presidential initiative. The two bills will bemerged into one and submitted for a second reading together.Zheleznyak added that the presidential suggestions were “morelogical and weighted”. “One can quickly close a bank accountwithout any problem, but it becomes complicated when real estate isconcerned. It is difficult to quickly sell an apartment or a house.Besides, we would have to exclude the property in CIS countriesfrom this ban,” the MP said.As the parliament started discussing the foreign property ban,the issue has already created a number of scandals. Most notable isthe departure of Vladimir Pekhtin, the formerhead of the State Duma ethics committee, who said he was giving uphis parliamentary seat after opposition bloggers claimed he owned aluxury apartment in Miami. As bloggers celebrated their victory,Pekhtin said that the apartment belonged to his son and promised togo to the USA and collect proof.Other MPs said they regretted having to sell their foreignproperty if the ban comes into force.The only politician who expressed readiness to leave the LowerHouse was Fair Russia MP Aleksey Lysakov who announced that he hadopened a bank account in France in order to pay for his daughter’seducation and would not close it. If the ban on foreign propertycomes into force and the MP’s ex-wife does not agree to re-registerthe account in her name, Lysakov promised to leave theDuma.
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