Allies back Putin as critics denounce 'president for life' plan

Четверг, 12 Мар, 2020

But addressing the State Duma, the Lower House of Parliament, he gave his qualified blessing to a proposed change to the constitution that would formally reset his presidential term tally to zero.

In a surprise visit to the Duma shortly after, Putin said he would support the amendment on one condition: the approval of Russia's Constitutional Court - a body under the president's control.

A series of constitutional amendments will go to a nationwide vote on April 22.

Putin appeared before parliament on Tuesday after Valentina Tereshkova, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party and the first woman in space, told parliament she was proposing to amend the constitution in a way that would reset his presidential term count to zero.

Russian Federation has honoured the world's first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, on her 80th birthday.

Mr Putin's current six-year term expires in 2024.

"These amendments are long overdue, they are needed, and I am sure they will be useful for society, for our citizens", he told lawmakers.

"This is necessary for the dynamics of the country's development", Putin said. Soon after, the officials banned until April 10 all outdoor events of more than 5,000 people.

"I consider it inappropriate to remove from the constitution restrictions on the number of presidential terms", Putin added.

Valentina Tereshkova member of Russia's lower house of parliament also known as the State Duma delivers a speech during a session to consider constitutional changes proposed by President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Russia
Allies back Putin as critics denounce 'president for life' plan

Putin spoke to lawmakers at the Kremlin-controlled State Dumaon Tuesday about what such a change would mean for the future of presidential power in Russian Federation.

The chamber is expected to approve the constitutional reform bill in the second of three readings on Tuesday, after it is amended by suggestions from Tereshkova and other deputies.

It passed by a 383-0 vote with 43 abstentions, and was approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, several hours later.

The package Putin announced in January includes a slew of political and social reforms. The reform bill would give parliament more power, including the authority to name a prime minister, but also expand the role of Russia's State Council, now a consultative body made up of the heads of Russia's regions It would also introduce "faith in God" to Russia's constitution and specify marriage as a union between "a man and a woman".

Other proposals aim at boosting living standards, including a guaranteed minimum wage and state pensions adjusted to inflation.

Russia's opposition, including Mr Putin's most prominent critic Alexei Navalny, has denounced the proposals as an effort to make him "president for life".

Elena Volkova, a 62-year-old retiree, said Putin had made up his mind and the courts would do as he asked.

Rather than carve a powerful role for himself outside of the presidency, this news indicates Putin might not be going anywhere.

A group of opposition activists called for a protest rally in Moscow on March 21.