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Russian parliament advances to shield Putin’s immunity for life

After the Constitutional reform that allows him to retain power for two more terms, Putin will also shield his immunity afterwards. Legislators from the United Russia party, the government formation, have presented a bill on Tuesday to guarantee immunity to former Russian presidents for life. The legal change would make it enormously difficult to prosecute Putin and Dmitri Medvedev – in the Kremlin chair from 2008 to 2012 and the only other living former president – for causes before and after their time as presidents and not only for causes derived from their years in office , as the law now dictates. The reform offers them a way to guarantee a peaceful future if they abandon politics. But another legal reform underway offers them another option after the presidency: a position of senator for life that would also carry a salary and immunity.

In the bill, the president’s immunity – he cannot be detained, questioned, subjected to search – also extends to his home, the premises where he works, his means of transport or communication, documents, luggage, etc. In addition, explains the jurist Pavel Berezin, the legal change would make the process to remove a president as difficult as possible. “He can only be removed from office by decision of the Federation Council [la Cámara alta y la Cámara baja] only on the basis of an accusation of treason or of committing another serious crime brought by the State Duma ”. The possibility of withdrawing immunity is also extremely complicated.

Constitutional Law professor Elena Lukyanova sees in the reforms also a possible sign that Putin ends his term before it ends. “It may mean that the transition of power has begun,” the expert ventures. Putin, 68, has led the country for two decades, between his years as president and prime minister.

The law to shield the immunity of former presidents and the one that provides them option to be senators for life They are part of the normative development of the reform of the Russian Constitution, which the Russians endorsed with a national vote this summer, and which paves the way for Putin to extend his mandate until 2036; he would be 84 years old. They have yet to be passed by both houses of Parliament, but they are dominated by the Government party and others like it, so the path to enactment is paved.

“The legal change 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,” he said. declared Pável Krashennikov, one of the deputies who presented the proposal. Immunity for ex-presidents, has defended the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, is not new to international law. “It is a common practice in many countries and is justified. From the point of view of international praxis it is not an innovation “, he commented.

The changes that shield the immunity of former Russian presidents for life have taken into account the events in countries such as Kyrgyzstan or Armenia, where accusations were brought against the former presidents, says Vadim Tkachenko, director of the specialized consultancy VvCube.

The law on presidential immunity that is now under reform was promoted by Putin and approved in 2001. It then guaranteed the smooth withdrawal of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who had been involved in an economic scandal over cards and accounts abroad. that involved his family.


elpais.com