Law Granting Immunity to Former Presidents Comes into Force in Russia

A law granting immunity to former Russian presidents comes into force on January 2. The law was approved by the Russian State Duma on December 9, by the Federation Council on December 16, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 22, 2020 and published on the same day. The law enters into force ten days after its publication, Tass informed.

Under the document, in order to deprive an ex-president of immunity, the State Duma (lower house) 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 decide 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.

The law 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.