Russia to toughen Punishment for Rail Theft

Ministry of Transport demands to toughen punishment for embezzlement on the railway
Instead of two years, criminals are proposed to be imprisoned for six

The Ministry of Transport of Russia proposes to amend the Criminal Code of Russia, increasing the criminal punishment for theft of elements of railway infrastructure and their subsequent acquisition. In particular, to appoint a maximum term of up to six years in prison. 

On a single portal of normative acts, the Ministry of Transport of Russia published a notice of the beginning of the development of the federal law “On Amendments to Articles 158 and 175 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.” 

The ministry notes that, despite the significant attention paid to the problem by the state and market participants, cases of theft on the railroad continue. One of the measures to ensure the safety of the railway infrastructure may be to toughen the punishment for violators. 

Now responsibility for the theft of property of the public railway transport infrastructure is established by Art. 158 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. This rule determines the maximum punishment of up to two years in prison, provided that the amount of damage does not exceed 250 thousand rubles. (theft does not fall under qualifying compositions). 

However, the third part of this article establishes responsibility for theft from an oil pipeline, a gas pipeline, which, regardless of the amount of damage, provides for a much more severe maximum punishment – up to six years in prison. 

“The theft of elements of the railway infrastructure can lead to harm to the life and health of an indefinite circle of people, is no less a public danger than theft from pipeline transport facilities,” the Ministry of Transport noted. 

Vladislav Kalinin, First Deputy Head of the Track and Facility Directorate of the Central Directorate of Infrastructure of Russian Railways, supported the initiative. 

“The decision is correct. It is one thing when they steal from a warehouse, and quite another thing when parts are removed from the path along which the train is moving,” says Vladislav Kalinin. “This invariably leads to dire consequences.” 

As an example, the expert cited a recent case on the Kuibyshev railway, when on August 8 unknown persons stole elements of the track superstructure and the Yekaterinburg-Adler passenger train went off the rails. 

In this regard, according to him, the management of the company made a decision to constantly monitor the integrity of the tracks. High-speed traffic is under constant surveillance, cameras and thermal imagers are used. It is more difficult to detect such facts on less active railways, so law enforcement agencies are checking scrap collection points. Most often, pads, pads and crutches, as well as cables are stolen and then sold. 

Kirill Dozmarov, a lawyer at the law firm Art de Lex, believes that it is sufficient to tighten the fine for the theft of elements of the railway infrastructure. 

According to him, railway transport is the most important transport strategic area, therefore, crimes in this area should be severely punished. However, the application of penalties of a criminal nature for crimes should always take into account not only the gravity of the offense, but also contribute to the correction of criminals, as well as compensation for the damage caused. 

“At the same time, ordinary imprisonment does not contribute to either the correction of the offender, or compensation for damage,” the specialist believes. “In this case, measures of a combined nature are more effective. Namely, the combination of imprisonment as the main punishment and a fine as an additional one.” 

At the same time, it is necessary to increase not the term of imprisonment, but the amount of the fine, which should cover the amount of damage caused to the railway infrastructure many times over, Mr. Dozmarov noted. 

The law is scheduled to enter into force in August 2016. (

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