Tue, 25 Feb 2020

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Russian lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved a sweeping constitutional reform bill put forward by President Vladimir Putin in its first reading, after less than two hours of debate.

- Other Media news -

All 432 lawmakers present in the lower house State Duma voted in favor of the bill, three days after the amendments were presented to parliament, AFP reported.

"This was a powerful show of unity," Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said after the vote, adding that the key second reading was expected on February 11.

The bill will then face a third reading and it is unlikely to face much pushback.

Putin made the call for reforms last Wednesday and it was quickly followed by the resignation of the government and the appointment of a new premier and cabinet.

Once approved in three readings in the Duma, the bill will go to the upper house Federation Council before a final signature by Putin.

The president has promised a national vote on the reforms, with some officials suggesting it could take place within weeks, but it is not clear what form a plebiscite could take.

In his state of the nation speech last week, Putin suggested altering the constitution because "things have changed dramatically" since it was adopted in 1993.

He outlined some proposals, including boosting the role of the State Council, currently an advisory body, giving more responsibilities to parliament, and introducing more stringent requirements for public officials.

Among the changes, according to the text of the bill on the parliament's website, is that lawmakers would confirm the prime minister rather than the president, though the president can still sack any candidate.

Public posts at the federal level would be closed to Russians under 30 or who hold citizenship or permanent residency in any other country.

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