Russian lawmakers have introduced legislation that would provide Vladimir Putin lifetime immunity from prosecution if and when he leaves office, according to reports.
Current laws protect the sitting president from liability for crimes committed during their terms, but a parliamentary group proposed to extend these immunities beyond the president’s term, the Moscow Times reported.
“The bill secures immunity guarantees for ex-presidents beyond the terms of their presidential powers,” Senator Andrei Klishas, the group’s co-chair, was quoted when speaking to reporters. “This expands the timeframe of immunity guarantees for a president who stops exercising their powers.”
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The measure would, however, allow both chambers of the Russian parliament to strip presidents of immunity by a two-thirds majority within three months if accused of severe crimes, such as high treason or other felonies.
Putin submitted a bill last week under constitutional reforms that would give presidents a lifetime seat in the senate after leaving office.
The Kremlin said during Thursday’s press briefing that many other countries provide lifetime guarantees for their former presidents.
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Political analysts believe that Putin’s plans may have been a means of preventing a “lame duck” term: he would choose when to step down rather than run out terms and lose a mandate, the Guardian reported.
The bills are part of reforms Putin has undertaken after constitutional amendments that “reset” the president’s term limits, allowing him to continue running for office until he is 84.
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The only other living Russian who might take advantage of the new measures would be Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 but stepped aside when Putin returned to office.