Russian presidents could be made immune from prosecution for life under a raft of reforms being planned by Vladimir Putin.
The proposal by a group of lawmakers would make Putin safe from any criminal investigation even after his term expires in 2024.
The Kremlin declined to comment but the package of reforms are widely seen as a way for Putin to maintain his grip on power after he leaves the presidency.
Other proposals have included a new title of Supreme Ruler and a beefed-up prime minister’s job that Putin could seek to hold for himself.
Pavel Krashennikov, the co-chair of the parliamentary working group, announced the immunity proposal today.
‘The president of Russia, having ceased to exercise his powers, has immunity. We have this [proposed reform],’ he was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.
Immunity would prevent a hostile successor from investigating Putin after his term ends in 2024.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he would not comment on the working group’s proposal at this stage.
Krashennikov had said earlier this month that Russian presidents could be made senators for life after their term.
This would have a similar effect, because lawmakers in the lower and upper houses of parliament are immune to criminal prosecution under Russian law.
The working group has already put forward an array of other proposals, including one that would change Putin’s job description to Supreme Ruler from head of state.
For the group’s proposals to be adopted, they must be approved by the lower house of parliament in two further votes before being voted on by the upper house.
They must then be reviewed by regional parliaments and then signed by Putin, who has met the working group at his official Novo-Ogaryovo residence in Moscow.
Russia’s lower house of parliament has already backed Putin’s proposed reforms in a vote last month.
The government of Dmitry Medvedev resigned to clear the way for Putin’s reforms after the president unveiled his plans.
The plans would shift some power away from the presidency, weakening a successor to Putin, and hand more power to the prime minister.
It sparked speculation that Putin would seek to become prime minister, as he did in 2008 when his first spell as president ended.
Putin has said that the proposed changes would be put to a nationwide vote, but a date has yet to be set.