Russia Seeks to Protect Putin From Prosecution

Russia Seeks to Protect Putin From Prosecution

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a step closer to being granted immunity from prosecution after the lower house backed a bill freeing former country leaders from any criminal proceeding once they step down.

A report by BBC on Tuesday said that Putin secured a higher number of votes from the lower house, where most members of the parliament (MP) belong to a pro-Putin organization called United Russia.

The measure will have to pass two more readings before it gets endorsed to the upper house.

Under the measure’s provisions, an ex-country leader and his family would be free from any police questioning or any confiscation of their property. They would not also be prosecuted for any committed crime except if the member committed treason or other grave crimes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Putin’s term ends in 2024 but the amendments of a bill approved this summer allowed him to run for two more terms until 2036.

Photo from Flickr

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