Russia Moves to Formally Allow Putin to Stay in Power

Russian lawmakers took first steps Wednesday to formally allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Current law limits the Russian presidency to two consecutive terms, requiring Putin, 68, to step down in 2024. But a clause within a set of constitutional reforms approved in a nationwide vote this summer allows Putin to ignore current limits and run for two more six-year terms.

A bill submitted to Russian parliament last month officially resets the number of terms served by current and former presidents.

Members of the lower-house State Duma voted Wednesday in favor of the bill in its first of three readings. The draft law will then need backing from senators and a signature from Putin in order to become law, a step considered a formality for the Kremlin-backed legislature.

The presidential term limits bill is part of scores of legal acts pushed through parliament at breakneck pace to bring Russian law in line with the constitutional reforms, which came into force in July.

With lingering questions over his future, Putin signed laws this week that grant lifetime immunity to ex-presidents and allow them to become senators for life, a post that also grants immunity from criminal prosecution.

Putin himself said he has not yet decided whether he would run again in 2024.

Russia Names 4 More Independent Media Outlets ‘Foreign Agents’

Russia has named four more media outlets as “foreign agents” amid what critics call a widening clampdown on independent journalism.

“On Sept. 3, the Justice Ministry of Russia entered the following legal entities into the register of foreign media performing the functions of a foreign agent: Altair 2021 LLC, Vega 2021 LLC, Editor-in-Chief 2021 LLC and Romashki Monolit LLC,” the Justice Ministry announced in a statement Friday.

Each of these outlets were created by Russian journalists who had earlier been named “foreign agents” themselves: former Open Media journalists Maxim Glikin (Altair 2021 LLC) and Ilya Rozhdestvensky (Vega 2021 LLC); former Open Media editor-in-chief Yulia Yarosh (Editor-in-chief 2021 LLC); and former Proekt journalists Yulia Lukyanova, Sonya Groysman, Maria Zheleznova, Olga Churakova and Pyotr Manyakhin (Romashki Monolit LLC).

Both Open Media and Proekt closed down this summer, with the former having its website blocked and the latter being banned as an “undesirable” organization.

“In this case, we are talking about the conscientious observance by these citizens of the requirements of the law established for persons included in the register and the move is aimed at increasing the transparency of their activities,” the Justice Ministry’s statement said.

Organizations branded “foreign agents” are subject to rigorous financial reporting requirements and legally required to add the designation to everything they publish, including social media posts.

Kremlin critics accuse authorities of carrying out a renewed clampdown on independent media in the months leading up to Sept. 19 parliamentary elections by naming several outlets and journalists “foreign agents” or “undesirable” organizations. The Kremlin denies those claims.

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