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Gennady Skutsky, Senior Associate of a law firm has analysed the draft bill on alteration of the Act “On administrative violations in the area of municipal improvement in St- Petersburg”

1 September 2009

The “Dog bill” which is prepared in Smolny, is contrary to the Russian legislation, and should the bill be passed, it shall be contested in the courts, believe the lawyers.

At request of “DP” the two St.-Petersburg law firms have analysed the draft bill on alteration of the Law “On administrative violations in the area of municipal improvement in St- Petersburg” which is prepared by Smolny to be introduced in the Legislative Assembly in September, 2009. This bill was drafted on Valentina Matvienko, the governor of St.-Petersburg who has taken a look at contents of Littleone, an Internet forum. The said document stipulates fines amounting to 1 000 - 5 000 roubles for walking unleashed dogs in public places, walking dogs in children playgrounds and sports fields, territories of schools, kindergartens and health care facilities, and also for walking dogs by persons under 14 years.

Experts are unanimous that an idea to stipulate dog walking rules in a specific city is contrary to the federal legislation.

Rights of owner

“Subject to article 137 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, general property rules are applied to animals, i.e. owners are in title to an animal, - said Evgenia Stanislavskaya, lawyer of corporate law office Rightmark group. - the bill is limiting the rights of an owner, now he cannot walk his dog freely. And subject to cl. 3 of article 55 of the Constitution legal freedom of a citizen can only be limited by a federal law. Restrictions introduced by the law of a subject of the Russian Federation are contrary to the Constitution”. It is worthy of note that lawyers of Smolny are prepared for such reproaches. As Anna Mityanina, head of legal committee of Smolny, explained, authors of the bill fully understand that such matters as imposing a tax on dogs, limitation of number of dogs owned by a sole person etc., is a competence of the federal authorities. Smolny is only responsible for the provision of urban amenities in St.-Petersburg. And it is in this area that the new law shall operate, and municipal officials believe, that the very name of this document was meant to convince people of its purpose.

Slyness of Smolny

However, lawyers came to a conclusion that the explanation offered by officials is questionable. Wording of “provision of urban amenities” is very elastic, and that is extremely convenient for local authorities, - commented Gennady Skutsky, Senior Associate of “S&K Vertikal”. - They believe that everything that happens in the city streets trenches upon urban amenities, even the events that have nothing to do with them. But there must be a catch somewhere. Actually the bill is not meant to protect life and health of citizens. And these values should be protected but federal statutes, in particular by the AVC and the Criminal code, rather by municipal law”. In this respect lawyers predict that the “Dog bill” should it be passed by the municipal parliament, may be successfully challenged at in court. It may be that in this case the St.-Petersburg governor should prepare the draft federal law and to lobby it in Kremlin where Labrador Conny and golden retriever Aldo (pets of the prime minister and the president) hold strong positions. Should the respective bill be passed the dogs of St.-Petersburg shall be reduced to solicit the state authorities in Moscow for justice.

Note

Putin denied the rights of his dog Conny.

In December, 1999 the State Duma passed the the Act on protection of domestic animals.

On New-Year's Eve the document was submitted to Boris Yeltsin for signature.

But in the same night the president has resigned from his post, and on January, 3, 2000 the acting president Vladimir Putin put a veto on this law.

“Delovoy Peterburg: no. 162 (2974), September 01, 2009


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