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19 Feb, 2020 11:43

Russia may grant ex-presidents immunity from prosecution & ban ministers from holding foreign bank accounts

Russia may grant ex-presidents immunity from prosecution & ban ministers from holding foreign bank accounts

When Vladimir Putin announced his intention to amend Russia’s Constitution, it drove the pundits and pontificators into a frenzy of speculation. Since then there’s been a raft of proposals but two in particular stand out.

According to Pavel Krasheninnikov, co-chair of the working group set up to propose changes to the code, the idea of making former presidents exempt from subsequent criminal charges has been floated; along with a restriction on cabinet members from keeping money in financial institutions abroad.

Reports about Russian officials taking money out of the country have long aroused anger. Back in 2018, the presidential campaign of Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin was damaged by media reports that he kept large sums in Swiss banks.

The possible amendment to endow former presidents with protection from criminal prosecution was proposed by the chairman of the Union of Women of Russia, Ekaterina Lakhova. She told news agency TASS that immunity should be provided “because it will be, firstly, a constitutional guarantee of the independence of his (sic) activities.”

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If the change is eventually included and passed, the two current beneficiaries would be Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, who held office from 2008-2012. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that he had no comment to make about Lakhova's suggestion.

Immunity for former presidents is currently inscribed in federal law but is not presently in the Constitution.

In total, the working group has received more than 600 suggestions for changing the Constitution, and the State Duma Council recently extended the deadline for submissions to March 2.

Putin, who has indicated he will leave the political front lines when his current presidential term ends in 2024, has proposed an “All-Russian vote” on the eventual draft, to take place in Spring.

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