Vladimir Putin’s Russia: the Kremlin promotes a law that grants absolute immunity to former presidents

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The initiative was proposed by Putin’s party in Congress. They may not be incriminated, searched or questioned. Their homes and workplace will be inviolable.

With a bill tailored to President Vladimir Putin, who has ruled the Russian Federation for more than twenty years, The Kremlin aims to shield former presidents from immunity, who may not be tried for the crimes they have committed during the exercise of their mandate.

The initiative was presented yesterday in the Duma (Lower House) by the legislators of United Russia, Putin’s party, as part of the legislative process that must update the Constitution after the referendum last July.

“The bill shields immunity guarantees of an ex-president beyond the term of fulfillment of his mandate ”, recognized the official senator Andréi Klishas, ​​who promotes the proposal together with the deputy Pavel Krashennikov, two men linked directly to the Kremlin.

The draft in effect foresees that the former presidents – thus also Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s dolphin – they cannot be “persecuted, incriminated, searched or interrogated.” Your home and your workplace will also be an inviolable “sanctuary”. The immunity also extends to the means of transport and communication that are their property, their documents, luggage and correspondence.

The former president thus acquires a status above any mortal in Russia. The law introduces a small gap to revoke that immunity, but it is a complicated mechanism that involves Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. It can be given only in the case of charges of “high treason” or “other serious crimes” (which it does not stipulate).

A procedure that perhaps only wants to save face, since to be validated requires “two thirds of the votes of the total number of deputies and senators”, on the condition that the Duma accusation has the support of “At least a third of the deputies”, and that a special parliamentary commission has given its consent. A difficult scenario to achieve.

Krashennikov defended the initiative with implausible arguments. “It is not only important for a specific person, but for the stability of the State and society, so that those who occupy the position of president understand that there is the status of immunity and no one will take revenge on them or persecute them “, said.

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov stressed that presidential immunity is not new at the international level. “In the framework of the legislative package on constitutional reform there is also an article on guarantees for former presidents, current practice in many countries of the world and is rather justified“, Held.

The process of reform of the Constitution, after the approval of the referendum, continues to reserve surprises, with increasingly striking details about what the Russia of the future will look like.

What seems clear is that Putin does not want to risk anything in the “post Putin”: This project comes a week after the president presented, in person, another bill that gives former presidents a life seat in the Federation Council (the Russian Senate), Krashénnikov admitted that the bill presented this Thursday is linked to Putin’s proposal for changes in the Senate, since “former presidents will also have the possibility of becoming senators for life”, which would strengthen immunity.

Putin’s initiative allows presidents appoint up to 30 senators, seven of which could be for life. In addition, the bill establishes that all former presidents become senators and can also obtain life status.

All these reforms, which will give the president an unusual power, were possible after the approval of the referendum on the amendment of the Constitution launched by the government last July, and that had a popular support of 77.92%.

The central axis of the constitutional reform was changing the rules to allow Putin, 68, to perpetuate himself in office. Now, the new maximum presidential term limit is two terms of six years each, except for the current president.

Putin is completing his second and ‘a priori’ last consecutive term, ending in 2024, having previously held office between 2000 and 2008, when the presidency passed to Dimitri Medvedev and he became Prime Minister. But with the reform, he will be able to stay in office, if the people vote, until 2036.

Source: EFE, AFP and Clarín

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