MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Tuesday which would give lifetime immunity to former presidents after they leave office.
The law, which was released online on Tuesday, grants immunity from prosecution to former presidents and their relatives for crimes committed during their lives.
They will also be exempt from officers or investigators being interviewed, as well as seizures or arrests.
The law was part of constitutional amendments that were adopted this summer in a nationwide vote that authorise Putin, 68, to remain president until 2036.
Former presidents were exempt from prosecution only for offences committed while in office, due to the bill becoming law.
Now, if convicted of treason or other serious offences, a former president will also be deprived of immunity and the allegations are upheld by the Supreme and Constitutional Courts.
But Putin’s legislation signed on Tuesday would also give former presidents a lifetime seat in the Federation Council or Senate, a role that, upon leaving the presidency, guarantees immunity from prosecution.
The pending bills last month ignited speculation that the long-time Russian leader is planning to step down due to poor health, a suggestion refuted by the Kremlin.
The lower house State Duma passed laws on Tuesday making details private about staff of the Russian justice system, law enforcement and regulatory and military bodies.
The bill now needs Putin’s signature, a move which is called a formality, to become law.
It comes a day after Alexei Navalny, an opposition figure, said he phoned a suspected intelligence agent and coerced him into admitting that the Federal Security Service (FSB) attempted to poison him to death in August.
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Navalny said he had obtained access from leaked logs and travel records to the security agent’s phone number.
The Kremlin critic later revealed the supposed address and phone number of the agent, acts that under the recently introduced law would become unconstitutional.