MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has described a proposed bill submitted to the State Duma (lower house) on granting permanent immunity to former Russian presidents, as normal practice.
"The most logical explanation is that there is a whole package on introducing certain novations related to the package of amendments to the Russian Constitution," Peskov said.
"Within the framework of this package, there is also [a draft law on guarantees to ex-presidents], which is a practice that is in place in many countries throughout the world and it is rather justified," Peskov noted. "This is not something new in international practice," he noted, stressing that this bill would "fine-tune" the current status.
On Thursday, the proposed law in question was submitted to the lower house. This bill seeks to calibrate the procedure for rescinding the immunity of ex-presidents with Russia’s Constitution. This draft legislation was authored by head of the Federation Council (upper house) Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Andrei Klishas and Chairman of the State Duma (lower house) Committee on State Building and Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov.
Under the current laws, a former head of state could be stripped of immunity if a criminal case is opened over serious indictable felonies or capital offenses committed during a president’s term in office. The procedure is initiated by Russia’s Investigative Committee Chairperson and the State Duma must give its consent. Then the approved regulation is sent to the Federation Council, which has three months to consider stripping an ex-president of immunity. If the State Duma or the Federation Council refuses to approve it, then the criminal case is terminated.
What the new bill offers
Under the newly proposed bill, in order to deprive an ex-president of immunity, the State Duma would have to put forward accusations of high treason or gravely serious felonies. However, they would have to be confirmed by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. Based on these accusations, the Federation Council would have to make a decision on revoking an ex-president’s immunity.
The State Duma’s decision on handing down charges and the Federation Council’s decision on rescinding immunity would have to be approved by two-thirds of the votes of all Russian senators and lawmakers at the initiative of at least one-third of the MPs of the lower house and if there is a conclusion of a special commission set up by the State Duma. After the lower house puts forward the accusations, the upper house would have three months to make a decision on stripping a former president of immunity. If this is not done, the accusations would be dismissed.
A former president has the right to take part in the consideration of the issue at meeting of the parliament’s chamber.
The bill outlines that the ex-president can neither be held criminally nor administratively liable, nor detained, arrested, interrogated, nor be subject to searches. Now, this limitation only concerns acts committed while in office or proceedings in cases related to the exercise of his powers as the head of state.