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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Fines for Police and Prostitutes

The new Administrative Violations Code, which spells out a wide range of noncriminal offenses and their penalties, came into force Monday. The code imposes or increases fines for offenses such as traffic violations, prostitution, bootlegging, swearing in public or failing to carry a passport.

The code, which replaces 1984 legislation, also maintains the presumption of innocence, making it more difficult for police to impose a punishment without clear evidence that an offense has been committed.

Drivers have especially anticipated the code because Chapter 12 on traffic violations drastically limits the powers of the traffic police and, at least in theory, makes it more difficult for them to extort bribes.

As of Monday, the traffic police cannot seize a driver's license, tow away vehicles or accept fines for traffic violations. Fines must be paid at a bank.

Many drivers may still opt for bribes rather than deal with paperwork and the trip to the bank as envisioned in the code.

The code levies a fine of up to 20 minimum wages (up to 2,000 rubles, or about $65) on traffic police officers who illegally confiscate a driver's license or seize a vehicle.

Traffic police chiefs slammed the curbs on their powers while the code was under debate in the State Duma, saying the country's high traffic accident rate would only increase.

As the code came into force Monday, a top Interior Ministry official again voiced skepticism. "Having evaluated the Administrative Violations Code from a practical side, we have come to the conclusion that a number of its provisions will have a negative effect on those on the road," Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Chekalin was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Chekalin said parts of the code may prove unworkable and be amended. He did not elaborate.

A number of amendments have already been submitted to the government, he said. The fines for other noncriminal offenses covered by the Administrative Violations Code include up to 2,000 rubles for prostitution, up to 5,000 rubles for bootlegging, 100 rubles for not carrying a passport and up to 1,500 rubles for swearing in a public area.

The Duma passed the code after a heated debate last year, and it came into effect Monday together with a new Criminal Procedure Code. Both codes are part of a Kremlin-backed judicial reform package.