Russia may ban U.S. citizens, tobacco, food, drugs, software

Russian lawmakers have drafted a bill suspending cooperation with US companies in the nuclear, missile and aircraft-building spheres, as well as introducing restrictions on imports of alcohol and tobacco produced in the US.

“The bill is about alcohol and tobacco products and about ceasing or suspending international cooperation in the nuclear sphere, rocket engine building and aircraft building between Russian companies and organizations under US jurisdiction,” one of the bill’s sponsors, MP Ivan Melnikov (Communist Party), was quoted as saying in the State Duma’s Twitter message.

“The bill charges the government and top officials in Russian regions with the task of developing mechanisms to replace US goods and services on the Russian market. We expect this to become a push for the development of the Russian economy,” Melnikov said.

Another provision included in the current version of the draft is the proposal to allow Russian companies to produce various goods copyrighted in the United States or in countries allied with the US without getting licenses from copyright holders.

“This will be like a punch to the solar plexus for the Americans, because all achievements and all domination of the Anglo-Saxon, Western world are based on intellectual property and we are targeting this very right,” MP Mikhail Yemelyanov (Fair Russia) said in comments to Interfax. The particular list of patents that fall under the counter-sanctions will be formed by the government.

The draft law, according to a text seen by Reuters, is aimed at protecting Russia’s interests and security in the face of “unfriendly and unlawful acts by the United States of America and other foreign states”.

Russia imported $12.5 billion worth of U.S. products in 2017, according to official customs data. That included aircraft, machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products.

The draft legislation would give authorities the power to impose bans or restrictions in multiple areas of trade with the United States if they deemed that Washington was threatening Russia’s interests.

The sectors listed in the draft which could be subject to bans or restrictions include U.S.-made software and farm goods, U.S. medicines that can be sourced elsewhere, and tobacco and alcohol.

It gives the government the power to ban cooperation with the United States on atomic power, rocket engines and aircraft making, and to bar U.S. firms from taking part in Russian privatisation deals.

The provision of auditing, legal and consulting services by U.S. firms could also be subject to bans or restrictions, and curbs could be imposed on U.S. citizens working in Russia.

Western companies, including Ford Motor Co, PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola’s bottler Coca-Cola HBC, have also invested billions of dollars since the fall of the Soviet Union to set up local production in Russia.

US citizens employment ban

The draft provides for the ban or restriction on employment of US citizens in Russia, including highly trained professionals.

The text of the bill, contains a provision on “the prohibition or restriction on attracting citizens of the United States and (or) other foreign states, including highly skilled specialists, to work in Russia.”