A draft bill submitted by Russian lawmakers could give Vladimir Putin immunity from criminal prosecution when he decides to step down as president.
According to CNN, presidents in the country cannot be prosecuted for crimes while in office, but they can after leaving the position as the head of state.
Under the new legislation, any president would be given an extended grace on any felonies that take place during or after an individual has left the role.
A parliamentary group, who assessed the president's amendments to the constitution after his election in July 2020, submitted the proposal. Sen. Andrey Klishas, a co-chair of the group who put forward the proposal, explained how the bill would be a reflection of any Russian president's "importance" to the country.
"After the expiration of his term of office, such person has the right to count on the level of protection and legal guarantees that is not lower than those provided to him while he exercised presidential powers. This order acts as a guarantee against unjustified persecution of the former head of state and recognizes the importance of his role in the general system of public authority," Klishas said.
In order to be accepted, the bill has to pass through three readings in the lower house of parliament. It is then advanced for review in the upper house and finally signed by Putin, if successful.
Presidents can be stripped of their exemption if treason or any other serious crime is investigated by the Investigative Committee and backed by both the lower and upper houses of parliament.
The proposed legislation for criminal immunity follows another recent reform that would give ex-presidents a lifetime seat in the upper house in parliament. As a result, speculation is rising over Putin's potential plan to step down as president.
Putin still has the option to remain in office until 2036, following a constitutional reform that was passed earlier in 2020.
One of Putin's first acts as Russian president, when he was elected in 2000, was to grant his predecessor Boris Yeltsin legal immunity.
Although Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Friday that the 68-year-old is in good health, The Inquisitr previously reported that the president could step down in 2021. Speculation over whether Putin has Parkinson's disease has risen recently, and his family have been trying to influence his decision to retire as the head of state for Russia after holding the role for 20 years.