President Putin can contest for more Two terms as Russia's upper house approves constitutional reforms

Russian senators on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved amendments to the constitution amendment submitted by President Vladimir Putin as passed by the Russia's lower house, including the option for him to run for two more terms in the Kremlin.

The vote was just a few hours after the State Duma passed the momentous draft law.

The constitutional reform was backed by 160 senators in the upper house Federation Council, with one voting against and three abstaining.

At the Russia's lower house, a  total of 383 State Duma politicians voted in favour of the package of constitutional amendments, with 43 abstentions and none against.

It must now be approved by two-thirds of Russian regional parliaments, before being put to a public vote on April 22.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the package of reforms in January, then repeatedly denied they were meant to extend his grip on power as he approaches the end of his fourth and final presidential term in 2024. However, yesterday, another amendment was introduced that would reset presidential terms, making it possible for Mr Putin to run again if the constitutional court allows it.

The changes "are not just justified... they plan... for the strategy of the development of the country," Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said after the vote, Russian agencies reported.

Other additions to the constitution include guarantees for pension payouts and minimum salaries, and giving parliament additional power to nominate the head of government.

They also give the president additional powers to fire judges in the country's higher courts and to reject laws passed by parliament.

In a speech ahead of the Federation Council's vote, speaker Valentina Matviyenko called the passing of the amendments "one of the most important issues in (Russia's) modern history".

She hailed an amendment introduced on Tuesday that would give Mr Putin the chance to run again when his current term ends in 2024, by effectively resetting the clock on previous presidential terms.

Mr Putin "must have the right to participate in new competitive elections", she said.

"He raised Russia from its knees" and "is considered one of the world's great leaders," she said.

The President Putin administration’s original draft law, submitted to lawmakers on January 23, would have redistributed several presidential powers to the Parliament, but subsequent revisions largely maintained the executive branch’s predominance.

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