Putin signs laws expanding immunity and office-holding eligibility of former Russian presidents

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Tuesday that will grant presidents expanded immunity from prosecution after leaving office.

Currently, Article 91 of the Russian Constitution provides immunity to a president only while they are in office. The new law will provide broad immunity after they step down, immunizing them not just from criminal charges but also detention, arrest, search or interrogation. They would be immune in their person as well as their personal effects, correspondence, residence and offices.

The bill provides that the Federal Assembly could only strip a former president of their immunity on the basis of an accusation of high treason or other serious crime, and it would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the assembly to do so. The vote to deprive a former president of immunity must be brought within three months of them being accused, as the accusation would otherwise be rejected.

Putin signed another law on Tuesday that changes the manner of formation of the Federation Council, Russia’s legislative upper house. The new law will allow a president to appoint 30 additional representatives, as well as to join the council themselves once they leave office.

These changes follow a July referendum that altered the constitution to allow Putin to run for two additional terms of office. His current term ends in 2024, and he has not yet signaled whether he will run again.

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