Putin Allows Ex-Presidents to Become Senators for Life

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law Tuesday that allows former presidents to become senators for life when they leave office.

The law is the latest legislative change regarding Russia’s ex-presidents amid continuing questions over Putin’s future after his current term limit expires in 2024. The law is also part of sweeping constitutional reforms allowing Putin to ignore current limits and run for two more six-year presidential terms.

Under the newly signed law, lifetime senatorship is granted to both presidents who leave office at the end of their terms as well as those who resign early. It also retroactively applies to Dmitry Medvedev, who replaced Putin as president for one term in 2008-12 and is currently Putin’s deputy on the Russian Security Council.

Presidents who leave office after the law’s adoption have three months after their resignation or retirement to apply for lifetime senatorship. Medvedev, according to the legislation, can apply anytime.

The president can appoint 30 out of 170 senators, seven of whom can be appointed for life, according to the law’s text. Ex-presidents can also turn down lifetime senatorship.

The law comes into force the day of its publication Tuesday.

Russian law currently grants immunity from criminal prosecution to members of both chambers of parliament. However, Russian senators last week sent a bill to Putin’s desk explicitly granting former presidents lifetime immunity from prosecution. That draft legislation is also a part of a larger set of constitutional reforms approved by Russian voters this summer.

Putin said during his annual press conference last week that he has not yet decided whether he will run for president again in 2024.

Putin Aide’s Assistant Jailed 12.5 Years for Treason

A former assistant to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regional aide has been sentenced to 12.5 years in prison after being found guilty of state treason, the RBC news website reported Wednesday.

Alexander Vorobyov, who had spent one year as an assistant to Putin’s then-envoy in the Urals Federal District, was arrested in 2019.

Few details have been disclosed in the two years since as Russian treason cases are tried behind closed doors. Vorobyov’s since-deleted biography on the federal district’s website stated that he had received a letter of appreciation from Putin sometime in 2018.

The Urals-based ura.ru news website reported that Vorobyov was found guilty of sharing secret information with Polish security services.

“The Moscow City Court handed down the verdict against Vorobyov and imposed a sentence of 12 years and 6 months in a high-security colony with two years probation,” RBC quoted the court as saying.

Vorobyov has also been stripped of his state official rank, the outlet reported.

According to Interfax, the state prosecution had requested 13 years in maximum-security penal colony for Vorobyov. State treason charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail in Russia.

Interfax said Vorobyov was appointed as the former Putin envoy’s chief of staff in July 2018 and detained a year later in July 2019.

That had been his first appointment in the Urals after an 18-year public office career concentrated in the northwest Russian regions of Kaliningrad and Karelia, it added.

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