Revisions prepared for the Russian constitution in past weeks have now been approved by both the Duma and upper-house Federation Council. April 22, the date of the national referendum on the new constitution, has been declared a national holiday.
The current Russian constitution only allows a person to serve two terms as president. Under a last-minute amendment to the new constitution text, only terms after the new constitution enters into force would count. As a result, even Russia’s sitting president would be free to serve another two terms under the new constitution. President Vladimir Putin has given his blessing to the amendment on the condition that the constitutional court approves the change.
The revisions to the constitution also include changes that address certain social issues, i.e. the minimum wage should not be lower than the official subsistence minimum, as well as a requirement that pensions and other social entitlements be indexed. The draft constitution also provides changes in power-sharing arrangements among institutions, certain requirements on persons serving in political office, as well as immunity and life-time seats on the Federation Council granted to former presidents.