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On Monday, Russia’s Constitutional Court approved a set of constitutional amendments, including a reset of President Vladimir Putin’s presidential term count.
Putin’s term in office is set to end in 2024, and under current law he wouldn’t be allowed to run again, but the amendments would allow him to serve two more six-year terms beyond 2024.
The amendments still need to be approved by Russians in a national referendum, which is scheduled for April 22.
Last week, Russia’s parliament voted to pass the constitutional amendment to reset Putin’s term count. Putin said that he would only accept the change on the condition that the Constitutional Court found it not to be in violation of the constitution.
Speaking about removing presidential term restrictions, Putin said, “In principle, this option would be possible, but on one condition — if the constitutional court gives an official ruling that such an amendment would not contradict the principles and main provisions of the constitution.”
The Constitutional Court delivered its approval in a 52-page ruling posted on its website on Monday, coming to a conclusion that the proposed amendments “corresponded to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.”
The Constitutional Court’s decision comes just two days after Putin signed off on the constitutional changes, which had already been approved by both houses of parliament and regional legislators.
The other amendments include the emphasis of Russian law over international laws, a ban on giving away Russian territory and outlawing the promotion of such a move, as well as ensuring that the minimum wage that should not be below the subsistence level and state pensions are regularly adjusted to inflation.
The amendments also state that marriage is a union between a man and woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage, and specify “a belief in God” as a traditional Russian value.
Opposition to the amendments
The court’s decision came after more than 18,000 Russians signed a petition denouncing the amendments as “politically and ethically unacceptable".
“We believe the threat of a deep constitutional crisis and an unlawful anti-constitutional coup … is hanging over our country," the petition said.
Hours before the constitutional court delivered its approval, an open letter was published on the site of the liberal radio station, Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), which condemned the proposed amendment that would allow Putin to run for two more terms.
The letter was signed by over 420 Russian academics, writers, journalists and legal experts who warned of a “constitutional crisis and a pseudo-legal, unconstitutional coup”.
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