Currently, Ruling No 612 of the Government dd. 27 September 2007 (‘the Regulations’) prohibits the online sale of alcohol.
On 15 September 2014, an important meeting for the alcohol industry took place between Prime Minister D. Medvedev and other officials. As a result of this meeting, the Russian government is investigating how to reduce the current restrictions regarding the online trade of alcohol. The main public body undertaking the investigation is the Federal Service for Alcohol Market Regulation (RosAlcoholRegulirovanie).
This initiative is based on the draft law № 508213-6, filed with the State Duma (lower house of the Russian Parliament) by representative Victor Zvagelskiy on 25 April 2014. Mr. Zvagelskiy is a well-known lobbyist for the alcohol industry within the Parliament. The main idea of the draft law is to allow the online trading of alcohol subject to the following restrictions:
- The online sale of beverages with an alcohol content in excess of 25% is not permitted.
- All sellers of alcohol beverages must be licensed.
- Alcohol beverages must be sold separately (i.e. not as part of a package of goods);
- Alcohol may not be offered as a gift or as part of a promotional campaign.
- The price at which alcohol is sold must meet all legal requirements governing the minimum price of alcoholic beverages.
The intention is that if an online seller fails to comply with the restrictions set out above, its website will be blocked by RosAlcoholRegulirovanie, even though it is not clear how, in practice, RosAlcoholRegulirovanie will be able to achieve this.
The draft law also envisages that the seller’s actions would be subjected to administrative investigation, with amendments to the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (part 4, article 13.15), providing the following sanctions: a fine from RUR 3,000 to 5,000 (approx. US$ 78 - 130) for physical persons; a fine from RUR 30,000 to 50,000 (approx. US$ 780 to 1300) for officials; and a fine from RUR 400,000 to 1, 000,000 (approx.US$ 10,411 - 26,027) for legal entities.
The future of the draft law is still unclear, but a number of positive comments have been made by Duma committees, executive bodies, and regional parliaments (Nizhniy Novgorod, Altai, Kabardino-Balkaria, Krasnoyarsk, Tatarstan, Vologda, Astrakhan). Only one negative comment has been made and that by the Ulyanovsk State parliament. The draft also has a great deal of support from the Union of Alcohol Production Manufacturers (SPAP) – the alcohol industry’s powerful lobby group.
At this stage there is no information as to when the draft law will be presented even for first hearing. It is likely that before that happens significant amendments will be made to the draft.