Putin signs bill giving immunity to ex-presidents

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation that will grant former presidents of Russia lifetime immunity.

The bill, which Putin signed into law on Tuesday, gives former presidents lifetime immunity from being held for criminal or administrative responsibilities. They will also be immune from arrest or search.

Before the bill became law, former presidents were exempt from prosecution only for crimes committed while they were in office.

But former presidents can still be stripped of immunity if they are accused of treason or other grave crimes, and the charges are confirmed by Parliament, the supreme and constitutional courts.

The new legislation is part of constitutional amendments that were initiated by Putin and approved in July. The amendments include immunity from arrest for former presidents and allow Putin to serve two more six-year terms.

Observers say recent moves by Putin are part of preparations for his life after he steps down.

Putin told reporters on Thursday last week that he had not decided yet whether to run in a presidential election after his current term expires in 2024.