Russian Federation constitution spells out process to impeach President Vladimir Putin

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week, there has been growing talk of a need to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin from power, which given his status as an authoritarian dictator, would seemingly require an international effort at regime change.

As it turns out, however, that may not be necessary as, at least theoretically, the Russian legislature has the power to impeach its president and remove him from office, the Washington Examiner reported.

Russia has a constitution, believe it or not

After the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the Russian Federation was formed in its wake as a sort of constitutional republic modeled to resemble that of other Western democracies.

Indeed, with the help of the United States and other Western governments, the Russian Federation drafted and ratified a Russian Constitution in 1993 that, at least on paper, laid out the protected rights of the citizenry as well as the roles and powers of the different branches of the Russian government.

Chapter Four of the Russian Constitution deals with the presidency and its responsibilities and limitations and includes direction on how the president is to be elected and, in certain circumstances, even removed, though the process does appear convoluted and, at least at this point, rather unlikely to occur.

What the Russian Constitution says about impeachment

Article 92 of Chapter Four of the Russian Constitution lays out the process for the replacement of a Russian president for three specific reasons: resignation prior to the expiration of a term, an inability to carry out their duties for health reasons, or due to removal following impeachment.

Article 93 then spells out how the lower chamber of Russia’s legislative body, the State Duma, can bring charges against a sitting president for “high treason or of another grave crime,” which will then result in an impeachment action by the upper body, the Council of Federation.

For that impeachment to take effect, however, Russia’s Supreme Court must issue a resolution confirming the existence of the alleged crimes, followed by a resolution from Russia’s Constitutional Court confirming that all proper procedures have been appropriately observed.

Furthermore, two-thirds of each legislative chamber must approve of the impeachment within a three-month period, or else the charges will be dismissed as null and void.

Anti-war opposition inside Russia

The Examiner noted that while all of that with regard to an impeachment of Russian President Putin seems unlikely, it is not entirely out of the question, as large anti-war protests have been staged by Russian citizens in several major cities and a few rather prominent voices, including members of the State Duma, have spoken out in opposition to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Interestingly enough, a small new journalistic outlet in Ukraine, The Kyiv Independent, reported over the weekend that a petition had been launched calling for Putin’s impeachment that had already gathered more than 150,000 signatures.

Again, it seems unlikely at this point that Russia’s legislature would move forward with an attempted impeachment of Putin, but if the invasion bogs down and Russian casualties soar, to say nothing of outraged citizens negatively impacted by international economic sanctions, it is a possibility for the future that can’t be entirely ruled out.

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