Foreign research companies will be recognised as foreign agents

At the end of July 2023, a bill was submitted to the State Duma of the Russian Federation establishing additional obligations and restrictions with respect to the so-called “organizers of consumer market structure research”. These are Russian legal entities providing services for the collection, processing and analysis of data on the structure of the commodity market in the Russian Federation (including information on the level of supply and demand, cost of goods, production volumes, generalized data on consumers, producers and importers of goods), the aggregate revenue of which for the last calendar year is at least 30 million rubles.

In accordance with the bill, at least 80% of the authorized capital of such research companies must be owned by Russian legal entities (individuals), and the systematization, analysis and storage of data obtained by such companies must be carried out on technical facilities located in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Moreover, it is planned to include such research companies in a special register of the Federal Antimonopoly Service, and the ownership structure of these legal entities, according to the idea of the developers of the bill, will be determined by a specially created Commission. If a research company fails to bring its structure in line with the Commission's decision, the shares (stock) of such an organization may be forcibly sold in court. The companies that are not included in the register will not be allowed to conduct market research, and counterparties will be prohibited from entering into relevant contracts with them.

Despite the fact that the bill has not even been considered in the first reading yet, Russian media reported that members of the lower house of the Russian parliament are already working on amendments to it. Thus, there is a proposal to include foreign research companies studying Russian commodity markets in the list of organizations whose activities are undesirable on the territory of Russia and to grant their Russian subsidiaries the status of foreign agents. The initiators of the amendments explain the adoption of such measures by the desire to “prevent and eliminate threats of uncontrolled collection of data of Russian citizens, and in fact - the ongoing economic espionage by Western research companies”. Also members of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, point to the forced protective nature of these changes to the legislation, and emphasize that such measures will remain in effect “until negative economic, political and military pressure on Russia ceases”.