Putin Moves One Step Closer To Legal Immunity As Duma Backs Proposal
Putin has moved one step closer to being granted legal immunity after the Russian Parliament's lower house has backed a controversial bill.
The Duma has backed the new proposal, which would mean that the current Russian president and his family will be immune from criminal prosecution after he leaves office.
The bill was passed in a first reading in the Duma on Tuesday, reports the BBC. Most of the MPs who sit there are part of the United Russia party - which is strongly pro-Putin.
Thirty-seven of the MPs who voted against it were part of the Communist Party.
There will still be two more readings in the Duma. If it passes, it will go to the Federation Council (upper house). The final step is sign-off from Mr Putin himself.
It's one of the constitutional amendments that was voted on in July in a referendum.
Although his fourth term ends in 2024, the bill - if it passes - would mean he can run for two more terms.
The new legislation, if passed, would mean that current laws are expanded.
As it stands, presidents can't be held liable - neither criminally, nor administratively for any crimes committed while they serve their term, as reported by the Moscow Times.
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The news outlet said Senator Andrei Klishas told the Russian news agency Interfax: "The bill secures immunity guarantees for ex-presidents beyond the terms of their presidential powers.
"This expands the time frame of immunity guarantees for a president who stops exercising his powers."
One of Putin's strongest critics, Alexei Navalny, tweeted: "Why does Putin need an immunity law now?"
He then added: "Can dictators step down of their own free will?"
The news of the referendum was announced in Russia as a 'preliminary' result five hours before voting closed, with the national vote on the proposed amendment to the constitution having started on 25 June.
It means that instead of the two consecutive six year terms that were previously the maximum, Putin's presidential term count will be reset to zero - allowing him to potentially serve two more terms, which would take us to 2036.
Putin, a former KGB agent, said back when the referendum was announced that he believes that it's not the time to change power in Russia, in order to secure the country's 'evolutionary development'.
He said: "We have had enough revolutions.
"I have no doubt that the day will come when the supreme, presidential power in Russia will not be so personified, if I may say so, that it will not be connected to a certain individual.
"But this is exactly how it was in our previous history, and we must take this into account."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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