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Putin Sends Sweeping Constitutional Amendments to Lawmakers

Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a draft bill on sweeping constitutional amendments to Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Monday, less than a week after first proposing the changes.

Among the nearly dozen changes he pledged during last Wednesday’s state of the nation speech, Putin vowed to limit the presidency to two overall terms and tighten restrictions for candidates and other federal officials. Russia’s Constitution would also have more legal weight than international acts and create new centers of power outside the presidency.

Putin’s 75-member working group backed all of his proposals, recommending changes to 13 articles of the Constitution, the RBC news website reported earlier Monday.

Putin’s proposed changes were widely seen as giving the 67-year-old scope to extend his grip on power once he leaves the presidency in 2024. He has dominated Russian politics, as president or as prime minister, for two decades.

The State Duma’s legislative committee plans to discuss Putin’s bill Tuesday, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin as saying.

The Duma will then debate the amendments Thursday, RIA Novosti quoted the State Duma’s deputy speaker Ivan Melnikov as saying. 

Putin’s bill requires three votes in the State Duma and one in the upper-house Federation Council before reaching his desk.

The public could vote on the constitutional amendments on April 12, RBC reported earlier Monday.

Several officials, including Putin’s spokesman, have stressed after Putin’s state of the nation speech Wednesday that the public vote would not amount to a referendum.

Source: themoscowtimes.com

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