RUSSIAS Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday gave its final approval to a series of constitutional reforms that could scrap the two-term Presidential limit and allow Vladimir Putin to extend his time in power into the 2030s. Having alternated between President and Prime Minister since 2000, Putin has given his backing to a reform that would make him eligible for two more six-year terms in power come the 2024 elections. The measure means he could serve until 2036, Efe news reported. Russian Presidents are limited to just two terms as things stand.
More than the required two-thirds of MPs in the State Duma gave their backing to the controversial package of amendments on a final reading, meaning it heads for debate in the Senate. It will also need the approval of the Constitutional Court. Putin has said he will put the changes, the most sweeping since the collapse of the Soviet Union, to a referendum in April. The Communist Party was the only parliamentary group to vote against the proposal to rework the Presidential term limits. Anti-Putin political activists have called for mass protests in the coming days.
Just after the announcement, Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people, citing coronavirus restrictions. Addressing the State Duma on Tuesday, Putin approved a package of 169 amendments to the constitution. “Together, regardless of all other matters, we have managed to do a lot to make the country stronger,” he said. “I’m convinced that we will do much more good together - in any case until 2024, and then we will see.”
In addition to numerous social issues, such as annual indexation of pensions and support for large families, the amendments included a proclamation of Russians’ faith in God, a definition of marriage as the union of a man and woman and a ban on giving away any Russian territory. They would also grant more powers to Parliament. Putin first announced the proposed reforms during his State of the Nation address earlier this year, prompting the immediate resignation of former Prime Minister and Putin-ally Dmitry Medvedev and his cabinet.