Russia Eyes Immunity of Ex-Leaders From Prosecution

Russia Eyes Immunity of Ex-Leaders From Prosecution

Russian lawmakers are considering the passage of a bill that would give presidents a lifelong immunity from prosecution beyond their terms as country leaders.

According to a report by CNN quoting Russian state-owned news agency TASS, lawmakers have officially crafted a draft bill that would give country heads protection from prosecution if and when they decide to step down from the post.

If passed into law, the measure would give incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin immunity from prosecution after his administration.

At present, Russian law only covers the immunity of presidents from prosecution “while serving in office.” The planned bill thus seeks to extend the immunity beyond their terms.

“After the expiration of his term of office, such person has the right to count on the level of protection and legal guarantees that are not lower than those provided to him while he exercised presidential powers,” Senator Andrey Klishas, one of the co-authors of the bill, was quoted as saying in a report by TASS.

“This order acts as a guarantee against unjustified persecution of the former head of state and recognizes the importance of his role in the general system of public authority,” he added.

However, the bill complicates the process of revoking immunity as it proposes to indict those committing high treason or other grave felonies to be confirmed by the high court and constitutional courts, where judges are likewise picked by the president.

Under the current law, an ex-president could be stripped of immunity if the Investigative Committee files criminal charges of state treason and grave felony and gets support from both chambers.

The bill will have to secure the approval of the lower and upper houses, or at least two-thirds of the majority before it can be endorsed to Putin for approval.

To recall, one of the first decrees that Putin signed when he assumed office in 2000 was giving immunity to his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who picked him as his successor.

The latest measure came a few days after Putin submitted another bill under his constitutional reforms giving former presidents a lifetime seat in the Federation Council.

The bills sparked speculations that the bill if passed into law, would be Putin’s retirement plan. He, however, can stay in power until 2036 based on the constitutional reforms approved this summer.

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