Russia Moves to Grant Ex-Presidents Lifetime Immunity from Prosecution

Russia President Vladimir Putin chairs a video meeting of the Pobeda (Victory) organising committee at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on July 2, 2020, as he thanked Russians today after a nationwide vote approved controversial constitutional reforms that allow him to extend his rule until 2036. (Photo by Alexei …
ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers in the Russian legislature introduced a proposal Thursday to grant former Russian presidents lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution, the Moscow Times reported.

Sen. Adrei Klishas and State Duma deputy Pavel Krasheninnikov, both members of the United Russia party — to which Russian President Vladimir Putin once belonged — will introduce the bill to the Duma, or Russian legislature, according to Interfax.

“The bill establishes the effect of guarantees of the ex-president’s immunity beyond the term of his presidential powers,” Klishas said.

Putin has faced a steady stream of corruption allegations during his time in office, aimed both at his personal actions and those of the United Russia party, which has consistently supported him.

Incumbent Russian presidents currently enjoy immunity while in office but are susceptible to legal scrutiny after their time in office has ended. The current proposal would extend that immunity until death, but allow the legislature to rescind such protections with a 2/3 vote in the Federation Council and State Duma within three months of the president leaving office if he stands accused of treason or serious felonies.

Russian state media outlet RT noted that the bill would also extend presidential immunity to include time prior to ascending office — Putin first became president in 2000 — and also covers his time as prime minister from 2008 to 2012; the legislation also reportedly would protect Putin’s family.

The state-run outlet suggested the move would prompt speculation about an imminent Putin departure, despite recent constitutional reforms extending his potential time in office.

“For some, the bill will be interpreted as a clear sign that Putin is preparing the ground to leave the post of president sooner rather than later, despite a recent constitutional amendment allowing him to potentially stay in power until 2036, should he win re-election,” RT reported.

In March of this year, Putin signed into law constitutional reforms that would allow him to seek an additional two terms and thus, remain in office until 2036. An additional reform granted former presidents a lifetime seat in the Federation Council (Senate).

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as Russia’s third president from 2008-2012, is the only living former Russian president since Boris Yeltsin, the first officeholder, died in 2007.

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