Russian Duma ratifies nuclear liability convention

Publish date: March 2, 2005

The State Duma voted 344-45 on Wednesday to ratify the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage.

The convention, which was adopted in 1963 and came into force in 1977, was signed by Russia on May 8, 1996. The document, which has already been ratified by 32 countries, is intended to create an international legal civil liability system for nuclear damage caused by incidents at non-military nuclear sector facilities.

Due to the convention’s cross-border nature, citizens of a country where an incident has taken place and people from other nations affected by it can receive compensation.

It regulates procedures, terms and principles of damage indemnity, setting a state’s liability at not less than USD5 million, calculated to a formula based on gold’s value at April 29, 1963. Terms of the agreement say operators must maintain insurance or another financial security for a sum corresponding to the liability. Alongside, it makes operators liable for damage to citizens not only of the state where the incident occurred but any other damaged states additionally. Jurisdiction lies exclusively with courts of nations where the event happened.

Head of the Duma foreign affairs committee Konstantin Kosachev told Kommersant newspaper that ratification envisaged no financial losses for Russia. “Russia is neighbor to European countries that use nuclear power, namely Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Before ratifying the convention, if anything happened in these countries, Russia would have been left without compensation” reported RBC.