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Constitutional amendments should enter into force only after nationwide vote, says Putin

The public vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution needs to be held on a weekday that will be declared a day off, the president said

NOVO-OGARYOVO, February 13. /TASS/. Russia’s constitutional amendment bill should only become effective after a nationwide vote so that citizens themselves acted as its authors, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a meeting with a working group for Russian constitutional amendments.

"It is important for me that this constitutional amendment bill enters into force only after ballots cast in the nationwide vote are tallied, that it is a true plebiscite and that it is the Russian citizens who are authors of these amendments to the constitution," Putin said.

The Russian leader added, "Considering the importance of the issues we are putting up to the nationwide vote, the importance of innovations we introduce to the constitution, I was coming from understanding that people should be directly involved in the making of this decision." According to him, this aspect is the most important one "while how to put it, where to place what and which order to sign are technicalities."

"It is essentially vital that Russian citizens came to vote and registered that they are authors of this bill. Whatever people say will happen - if people confirm in the vote that they support it then the law enters into force and the amendments are introduced. If they don’t confirm it then the amendments will not be enshrined," the president stressed.

The public vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution needs to be held on a weekday that will be declared a day off, Putin said.

"We have agreed that it [the vote] will take place on a weekday, which will be a day off. It is a right thing to do but - I would like to draw the government’s attention to this point - it cannot be one of the national holidays," the head of state pointed out.

Constitutional amendment bill

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted the draft bill on constitutional amendment to the State Duma.

On January 15, the Russian leader delivered his annual State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly (parliament), proposing a number of constitutional amendments. In particular, Putin envisages vesting the State Duma with the right to appoint prime minister, deputy prime ministers and federal ministers. He also suggested that heads of power structures should be named after consultations with the Federation Council, upper house, while a new notion is also planned to be introduced - senator of Russia.

The Russian constitution will also be expanded by adding a new body - State Council - which will be formed by president. The bill also particularly increases time of residence in Russia from 10 to 25 years for candidates vying for Russian presidency and bans them from possessing foreign citizenship or permit residence at any point in time. At the same time, it is specifically mentioned that the citizenship qualification is not applied to Russian citizens who previously held citizenship of a foreign state that was accepted into Russia or a part of it was accepted into Russia in accordance with a federal constitutional law.

Moreover, Putin stressed the need to enshrine the constitution’s priority over international treaties into Russian law as well as introduce a number of social guarantees into the constitution.