Russian bill to grant ex-presidents lifetime immunity passes first reading

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Russia’s State Duma has approved the first reading of a draft bill that would grant lifetime immunity to former presidents.

The legislation is part of a package of constitutional amendments approved in a referendum this summer that could potentially see President Vladimir Putin stay in power until 2036. The immunity amendments are widely viewed as designed to protect Putin if he steps down.

Under the immunity provisions, a former president and his family would have lifetime immunity from any criminal or administrative charges. They also cannot be detained, arrested, searched, or interrogated. Under the current law, former presidents are only immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office.

The State Duma also passed a first reading of another bill that will grant ex-presidents a lifetime seat in the upper house of parliament, or the Federation Council, a position that also provides immunity from prosecution.

Once the bill goes through two more Duma readings, it must be approved by the Federation Council before being signed by Putin himself.

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