Staunton, December 22 – The revelations about the Navalny poisoning and the opposition leader’s insistence that Vladimir Putin was ultimately responsible for the attempt to kill him have prompted some independent deputies in local councils in several cities to ask whether and how Vladimir Putin might be impeached and removed from office.
There have been three attempts at impeaching the Russian president, two in 1993 and one in 1999, but all were against Boris Yeltsin not Vladimir Putin; and all failed. Consequently, most Russians know little about how any impeachment effort might occur and believe there is almost no possibility that the current Kremlin leader would ever allow things to go far in that direction.
But two Znak news agency journalists, Ignat Baktin and Dmitry Komarov provide a detailed description of what the Russian constitution and Russian law have to say about an impeachment effort even though there is little chance for one now (znak.com/2020-12-22/navalnyy_uveren_chto_ego_otravili_po_prikazu_putina_kak_teper_obyavit_impichment_prezidentu).
The basic rules governing presidential impeachments are set in Article 93 of the Russian Constitution. They require accusations of treason or the commission of extremely serious crimes. These are to be advanced by no fewer than a third of the deputies of the Duma, reviewed by the Constitutional Court, and then impeachment approved by two-thirds of the Federation Council.
The constitution also specifies relatively brief time periods for such actions. If any one of these actors does not meet them, then the impeachment resolution is dismissed rather than continued on to the end. The Duma, for example, has only three months to consider any such charges, the two journalists say.
The Constitution and the enabling legislation about this require that the accusations be backed up by specific pieces of evidence of a crime. After the Duma agrees to bring a case of impeachment against the president, it sends its resolution to the Federal Council Committee on Constitutional Law which forwards it to the Constitutional Court for review.
The current Russian president controls all these institutions, thus making this procedure moot as far as he is concerned. But the mere fact that a Moscow outlet would mention the possibility of his impeachment suggests just how much has changed after this difficult year and the Navalny case revelations.