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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Bans Export of Scrap Metal

Deputies in the present State Duma have for the first time defied a presidential veto by approving the suspension of nonferrous scrap metal exports until 2005.

The bill was passed Wednesday by 314 deputies, including representatives of the pro-government and pro-presidential factions. Deputies hope it will prevent the theft of thousands of kilometers of wire from Unified Energy Systems.

"It is a rather crude, clumsy law. While we are combating thieves, we will bankrupt a number of honest industrialists. But I voted 'for' [overturning the veto] because there is no alternative," said Valery Zubov, a member of the People's Deputy faction. "Something had to be done. As a result of theft, whole enterprises have abandoned operations."

Zubov said he and other deputies will correct the law if it harms honest business and may create a list of companies permitted to export scrap metal.

In the past two years, 8,000 kilometers of wire, which is made of nonferrous metal, was stolen from UES, the company recently announced. Scrap nonferrous metal exports total from 700,000 to 800,000 tons a year, only 1,000 tons of which are transported legally.

President Vladimir Putin vetoed the law banning exports, saying the law "limits the rights and freedom of citizens."

Some officials say the law will have no effect. "The people who are stealing metal do not export it. They sell it for kopeks, and with the same rate of success they will sell it on the domestic market after the adoption of the law," said a government source.

Market players agree. "There are schemes by which scrap comes to the final buyer clean in terms of the law and its appearance. It is passed around and resold several times," said a factory worker who processes scrap metal.