Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a package of constitutional amendments he had proposed earlier, and the amendments included a clause allowing Putin the option to stay in power for two more terms.
The Kremlin published on its official website the detailed text of the 68-page constitutional amendments.
Putin’s signature added procedural privacy to these amendments, in contrast to the procedures usually used to enforce laws in the country.
The amendments were sent to the Russian Constitutional Court to adjudicate within a week the legitimacy of the draft law, guaranteeing Putin’s constitutional terms to be reinstated.
The law will then be put to a popular referendum.
A spokeswoman at the Russian Constitutional Court told AFP on Saturday night that the court’s judges had already begun to review the package of amendments, without disclosing the date of its decision.
The Kremlin set April 22 as the date for the vote, and the President of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matviyenko, said on Saturday that the vote “must take place despite the concern of many over the Coruna virus.”
Some have speculated in recent weeks that the Kremlin might vote online, and this speculation has been rejected by the opposition, which saw it as a sure way to rig the vote.
Putin, 67, surprised the country on Thursday when he backed a last-minute proposal to add a clause to the constitutional amendment package regarding the possibility of him returning to the Kremlin after 2024, when he is handed over to power in accordance with the country’s constitution.
The State Duma passed the added requirement before the bill moved to the Council of the Russian Federation, “the upper chamber of parliament” and regional parliaments.
The Russian president had proposed changing the constitution in January, but until this week he denied his bid to extend his term. His spokesman said that Putin changed his mind due to the instability in the world.
The constitutional amendments included a change in the balance of power, increasing the role assigned to the advisory body of the State Council, and empowering both the parliament and the president with more powers.