Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed the controversial law on constitutional amendments that allow him to run twice more for reelection and remain at the head of the Kremlin until 2036, according to the document published on the Presidential legal information portal.
According to Efe, the Russian president stamped his signature on the law after Parliament concluded today all the necessary steps to adopt the amendments, for which only one week required.
The Council of the Federation or Senate reviewed this Saturday in an extraordinary plenary session the adoption by parliaments of the 85 entities that make up the Russian Federation of the changes to the Magna Carta promoted by Putin, and approved its assessment with 164 votes in favor and one against.
Already on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Duma or Lower House and the Federation Council (Senate) had approved the project of the Russian president, who announced the reform in mid-January.
The Kremlin chief, who for years was against modifying the Constitution to continue leading the country, this time agreed to amend it and leave the door open to a possible fifth and sixth term at the head of the Kremlin from 2024, when, according to the current Magna Carta, he should leave the Presidency.
Putin, who has been in power for 20 years, will now send the law to the Constitutional Court, which must rule within seven days from its reception on the compatibility with chapters 1,2 and 9 of the Magna Carta (Foundation of the constitutional system, human and civil rights and liberties and amendments and revisions of the Constitution).
Referendum in April
The Russian president has promised that the constitutional changes will only take effect if the highest court gives its approval and if they are approved by the Russians in a plebiscite scheduled for April 22.
This Saturday the Kremlin clarified that for this “more than half of the citizens who will participate in the national vote” must give their “yes” to the package of different kinds of amendments.
The modifications, in addition to numerous changes on social issues, such as the annual indexation of pensions and support for large families, include in the text of the Constitution the figure of God, marriage as the union of a man and a woman or the prohibition to cede territories to other countries.
It also incorporates the concept that Russian is the “founding people of the State” when pointing out that its language is the official language of the country.
But, for the extra-parliamentary opposition, all these modifications are nothing more than a deceptive envelope of the true objective of the reform: to pave the way for Putin to remain in power.
The fine print: “Consecutives”
According to the current Constitution of 1993, which does not allow the exercise of the Head of State for “more than two consecutive terms”, the Russian president could not run for reelection in 2024.
The amendment approved by Parliament remove the word “consecutive” and allows the president-in-office at the time of its entry into force to stand for re-election regardless of the number of terms he has previously exercised.