Wed, 26 Feb 2020

Lawmakers in Russia's lower house State Duma on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to amend the constitution submitted by President Vladimir Putin, in the first of three readings.

All 432 lawmakers present voted in favour of the bill, part of Putin's major reform plan unveiled just last week, after debating the proposed amendments for less than two hours.

"This was a powerful show of unity," speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said after the vote by the pro-Putin chamber.

The Communist faction in parliament, despite voting for the bill, will prepare suggestions for the second reading, said party leader Gennady Zyuganov.

READ | Putin submits reform plans to Russian parliament

The second reading, usually considered key for Russian bills, is expected on February 11, Volodin said.

The current Russian constitution, in effect since 1993, was written under then president Boris Yeltsin following a constitutional crisis sparked by his conflict with parliament which opposed increasing presidential powers.

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