Russia’s State Duma passes bill on constitutional amendments

Russia’s State Duma passes bill on constitutional amendments

Russia’s State Duma has passed the third and final reading of a bill amending the country’s Constitution today.

A total of 383 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, and no one voted ‘no.’ As many as 43 legislators abstained from voting. Other parliamentary factions supported the document.

The bill expands the authority of Russia’s parliament and Constitutional Court, bars officials from holding foreign passports and residence permits and ensures the supremacy of the Constitution within Russia’s legal system. Besides, it adds a reference to God to the Constitution and enshrines the role of Russian as the language of a state-forming ethnic group. The bill also amends laws related to procedures and the implementation of the constitutional amendments.

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that "these changes are necessary given today’s challenges and society’s demands." "What remains unchanged - and the president has repeatedly emphasized it - is the basic principles and values of our Constitution, enshrined in Chapters 1, 2 and 9," TASS cited him as saying.

Volodin added that "lawmakers will keep meeting with voters across the country in order to clarify the amendments, until a nationwide vote takes place."

The bill will now be submitted to the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament), which plans to consider the document later on Wednesday.

If two-thirds of Russia’s regional legislatures support the bill, the president will ask the Constitutional Court to check the amendments. If the court releases a positive ruling, a nationwide vote will be held on April 22. If the country’s people support the constitutional amendments, the head of state will issue a decree on the official publication of the amended Constitution, announcing the date when the amendments will take effect.