Putin signs law letting ex-presidents become senators for life

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video link on a memorandum of intent on cooperation signed between Britain’s AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and R-Pharm pharmaceutical company, in Moscow, Russia December 21, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Tuesday that allows former presidents to become lawmakers for life in Russia’s upper house of parliament once they leave the Kremlin, a government website showed.

The legislation follows sweeping changes to the Russian political system initiated by Putin this year that, among other things, allow him to run for two more six-year terms in the Kremlin if he chooses. He had been due to step down in 2024.

The reforms are being closely parsed for clues as to what Putin may do at the end of his current presidential term, his second consecutive and fourth overall.

Tuesday’s legislation would allow presidents to name up to 30 senators to the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, and also to become a senator themselves once they have left office.

Other legislation that is yet to be signed into law, but has already been backed by the lower house of parliament, would grant ex-presidents immunity from prosecution for any offences committed in their lifetimes, not merely while in office.

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