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Russia: Commercial and Private Drones to Be Outlawed in Moscow

(June 25, 2015) On June 10, 2015, the State Duma (legislature) of the Russian Federation passed at the first reading amendments to the country’s Air Code, which, upon their adoption, will establish regulatory requirements for unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). (Bill No. 752189-6 on Amending the Air Code of the Russian Federation (Mar. 24, 2015), State Duma website (in Russian).) According to the amending legislation, all unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft systems will be recognized as aircraft and be subject to mandatory civil aviation certification. State registration will be required for aerial vehicles if their weight is more than 30 kilograms (about 55 pounds). Also, the amendments establish requirements for documentation to be placed in the aircraft in electronic format and standards for the members of the unmanned vehicle’s crew, which may consist of “outside pilot(s)” and observer(s). (Id.)

Following the first reading adoption of this legislation, the Moscow City Council conducted hearings and issued a resolution ordering the passage of city legislation that would ban uncontrolled UAV flights over the city, regardless of their size and weight. The Chair of the City Council’s Commission on Security stated that UAV usage will be allowed in cases when the vehicle’s flight route is approved by the authorities in advance. (Ivan Petrov, To Fine or Shut Down?: Capitol City Legislators Want to Ban Uncontrolled Flights of UAVs, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (June 17, 2015) (in Russian).)

At present, the only legal act related to regulation of UAV usage in Russia is a 2014 provincial court ruling, under which an entrepreneur was fined for using drones for pizza delivery. The defendant, who was accused of violating airspace and using an unregistered aircraft, was able to prove that current Russian legislation could not be applied to regulation of commercial use of UAVs and claimed that under existing law, a UAV could not be recognized as an aircraft, especially if it were used by an individual for personal purposes. The appellate court agreed with this justification and significantly decreased the original amount of the fine. (Sofia Okun, Court Opened Sky for Commercial Drones, PRAVO.RU (Dec. 25, 2014) (in Russian).)