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Putin praises rule of law in State of the Nation address

[JURIST] Russian president Vladimir Putin [official site, English version] stressed the need for a law-based society in his annual State of the Nation address on Monday, and encouraging investors to keep their money in Russia. "Tax authorities have no rights to terrorize business," Putin said in a 47-minute speech in the Kremlin. Putin's emphasis on boosting investor confidence comes two days before the verdict is due in the trial of Yukos oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky [JURIST news archive]. Supporters of Khodorkovsky have said that the government's prosecution was politically-motivated. Putin sought to resassure investors, who were scared off by the Yukos investigation, by pledging to protect business from corrupt government officials. Another Russian oil giant, TNK-BP, was presented this month with a tax claim of about $1 billion [BBC report]. Putin said tax officials should focus on checking current tax bills rather than chasing companies for years of back-taxes and that the period for investigating past privatizations should be shortened from ten years to three. Read the full text of Putin's address [previous years' addresses available here]. Reuters has more.

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