MOSCOW, March 13 (RIA Novosti)
Georgian Protesters Demand Prison Term for Russian Violinist
Georgian protesters in Tbilisi yesterday demanded that famous Russian violinist Yury Bashmet, who came to Georgia to perform in a charity concert, should be arrested for having illegally crossed the Abkhazian border in 2012. The punishment for this offense is either a fine or two to four years’ imprisonment.
The police broke up the illegal protest. An Interior Ministry spokesman went on record as saying later in the day that there were no grounds for an arrest because Mr. Bashmet’s passport had not been stamped by the Abkhazian customs authorities.
Upon his return to Moscow, Mr. Bashmet commented on the incident by saying that the law was idiotic and that smart people ought to disregard it.
He was playing for free, with all the money from the concert going to the Central Music School in Tbilisi. The Tbilisi Conservatory auditorium was packed to capacity and the concert would have been a huge success but for the noise from outside.
As he was leaving the Conservatory, Mr. Bashmet said that journalists had asked him why he disliked Georgia: “I love Georgia and have many Georgian friends. But I am completely against strong-arm tactics. They asked: Do you think it was Georgia that started the war? I do, that was the information we had. Anyway, why should I take Georgia’s side, I'm a Russian patriot?”
Mr. Bashmet added, however, that “he still respects all opinions, including opposing ones.”
The same evening in Tbilisi, he was received by Georgian Patriarch Ilia II, who asked him “not to pay any attention to all this nonsense.”
Human Rights Activists Demand Release of Young Woman with Severe Health Problems
Russian human rights activists are demanding that the authorities release 24-year-old Margarita Charykova from Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center. Charykova’s mother claims that her daughter who was born without a rectum, is “rotting alive” since she is not receiving the right medical help. Her lawyers say Charykova was arrested in December 2012 for possession of 20 grams of an amphetamine pain-killer.
On Tuesday, Svetlana Sidorkina, a lawyer with the Agora human rights association, called on the European Court of Human Rights to assist in the release of Charykova who is suspected of possessing psychotropic substances. Sidorkina said Charykova’s life and health were being threatened, and that a young woman with such a serious health condition could not stay at the pre-trial detention center.
Charykova’s mother, Erika Kaminskaya, wrote a letter to the Presidential Executive Office, saying her daughter had been arrested by officers from the Federal Drug Control Service on December 11 for possession of the pain-killer, which was mixed with an amphetamine, a home-made psychotropic stimulant.
Kaminskaya said her daughter’s treatment at outpatient clinics produced only temporary results, that the young woman could not afford to undergo total reconstructive surgery, and that she had started taking drugs regularly. According to Kaminskaya, Charykova has always tried to lead a normal life despite her health problems and many operations. She has been working since she was a teenager, and has been quite active. She has tried to pay her own way and tried to conceal her health problems from others.
If found guilty of drug trafficking under the Russian Criminal Code, Charykova could face up to ten years in prison.
Kaminskaya said her daughter’s health had seriously deteriorated at the detention center and that Charykova had not receive the required medical assistance. Charykova, who is suffering from edema, gained ten kilograms, and had to be taken to the prison hospital.
The certificate proving Charykova’s disability has to be issued in Novosibirsk where her daughter is registered, Kaminskaya noted.
Anna Karetnikova, a member of Moscow’s Public Oversight Commission, visited Charykova on Tuesday and said her poor health was obvious.
Charykova told Karetnikova that she was taking the medication which was confiscated from her to ease the pain.
Kristina Belousova, Federal Penitentiary Service spokesperson, said Charykova had received the medical assistance she needed, and that she could stay at the detention center. She added that her condition did not warrant a release, and that Charykova’s health was satisfactory.
Advice to Landlords Suspected of Tax Evasion
The tax authorities are urging Russian citizens allegedly renting out property and not paying tax on the income from it to turn themselves in and pay taxes. Although rental income is taxable by law, lawyers say there are legitimate ways of minimizing taxes.
Alla, owner of a Moscow apartment and a house out of town, received a letter from her local tax office in early March requesting she submit a declaration of income that she allegedly received from renting out property last year. “If you have not received any income, you are required to come and give an explanation,” the letter said.
“The house is not even completed and is not habitable,” Alla told MN. But tax inspectors are taking no notice.
Rule No. 1: Don’t go to the tax inspectors. In the past few months, Moscow residents who own more than one property have been receiving similar letters. It is clear from the above example that tax inspectors are using data from the state property register, which allows them to track people who own more than one property, even when they are located in different regions. As for believing that people are renting out additional properties, the assumption is quite logical and may be correct. They can also obtain the records of the property owner registering other people for temporary or permanent residence; the tax authorities do not care if these people are the owner’s family.
If you are not renting out your property, the letter can simply be ignored. The Tax Code does not stipulate any penalty for failure to come when summoned. However, lawyers believe these letters are the first stage of a bigger crackdown on landlords who do not pay taxes (95 percent, according to analysts). The next stage might involve the police checking the passports of those living in the apartment or house in question.
Rule No. 2: Accept rent in cash
If you are renting out property, you have to pay taxes. However, the authorities can only charge you back taxes for the last three years. If you are using a real estate agent, you sign a formal contract which stipulates the market price. If you write the contract yourself, you can put in any figure. However, if you are using a bank account to receive rent, tax inspectors can track regular payments into that account. The solution is to accept cash.
Tax evasion is a crime punishable with a 300,000 rubles ($9,760) fine or one year in prison if your unpaid taxes are below 500,000 rubles ($16,260). A larger amount can land you in prison for up to three years.
Rule No. 3: Pay 13percent for cheaper property
Although corporate tax is lower, if you register a company, you will have to pay other taxes and dues. Therefore, if your rental income is below 50,000 rubles ($1,630) a month, it is cheaper to pay the regular individual rate of 13 percent. Also, unlike a company, an individual only needs to submit an income declaration once a year.
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Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.