Law of the Week: Duma approves constitutional amendments as authorities suppress criticism

Week-ending 13 March 2020

Russian Federation: Authorities Suppress Criticism of the Proposed Constitutional Amendments 

The Russian authorities are resorting to their tried-and-tested methods of silencing all criticism while preparations are made to enact amendments to the country’s Constitution. The amendments were proposed by President Vladimir Putin in January 2020. If adopted, they will, amongst other things, open the way for him to run for fifth and sixth terms as President, and give him the authority to fire judges. Amnesty International, 13 March 2020 

Russian Lawmakers OK Constitutional Change That Would Allow Putin To Run In 2024 

MOSCOW — Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, has approved a constitutional amendment that would allow President Vladimir Putin to run for a new term in 2024. Currently, the constitution allows for a president to serve for two consecutive six-year terms. Putin, 67, is set to step down in 2024 when his second sequential presidential term ends. On March 10, 380 lawmakers voted for the amendment, 43 voted against it, and one lawmaker abstained. RFE/RL, 10 March 2020 

The constitutionality of six terms: Russia’s high court must decide if Putin can legally serve another two presidential terms. Here’s how the decision is supposed to work. 

1 What happened? Russia’s State Duma adopted the second reading of constitutional reform legislation initiated by Vladimir Putin. When Putin introduced the bill, the plan was described as an effort to prohibit one person from serving more than two presidential terms. At the last moment, however, lawmakers introduced a radical amendment to “zero out” the presidential term clocks of Russia’s current and former presidents… Meduza, 10 March 2020 

Russian Constitutional Amendments Spark Protests, Police Detentions 

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Police in St. Petersburg and several other Russian cities have detained activists during and ahead of protests against sweeping constitutional amendments that open the possibility for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power for another 16 years. The March 12 demonstrations were held while local lawmakers discussed the amendments, a day after parliament’s two chambers both overwhelmingly approved the changes. RFE/RL, 12 March 2020 

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