President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed into law a bill granting lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution to Russian presidents and their family members.
The law comes amid swirling questions over Putin’s future after his current term limit expires in 2024 and is part of sweeping constitutional reforms allowing Putin to ignore current limits and run for two more six-year presidential terms.
Under the new law, former presidents are immune from criminal or administrative prosecution and may not be detained, arrested or subject to searches, interrogations or bodily searches.
An ex-president can only be stripped of immunity if the State Duma brings charges of high treason or other felonies against him or her. If those charges are approved by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the Federation Council would then vote on whether or not to strip the ex-president of immunity within three months. If no decision is reached within three months, the charges are lifted.
When drafting the legislation this year, Russian lawmakers argued that similar laws already exist in other countries around the world.
Putin has not confirmed whether he will run for re-election in 2024. When asked about his post-2024 plans at his annual press conference last week, he said he will do what is in the country's best interests.