Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the package of constitutional reforms he proposed on Saturday, including a clause that would allow him to run for two more terms.
The Kremlin has published the 68-page constitutional reform law on its official website. Putin's signature triggers a special process for the package, which is different from the way laws normally come into force.
The reforms have been sent to the Russian Constitutional Court, which has a week to decide whether to pass the law, which will put Putin's constitutional term of office in motion.
The Russian public will then vote on the law.
A spokeswoman for the Constitutional Court informed AFP on Saturday evening that the judges had started to review the reform package but could not say when they would be given the decision.
The Kremlin has designated April 22 to be the day of the vote, and Russian Senate spokeswoman Valentina Matvienko told journalists on Saturday that the vote "must take place despite various concerns about the corona virus."
Some have speculated in recent weeks that the Kremlin will launch a vote on the Internet, which the opposition has criticized as a sure way to falsify the result.
Putin, 67, astonished the country on Tuesday when he supported a last-minute proposal to add a condition to the reform package for his possible return to the Kremlin after 2024 if he is constitutionally required to resign.
The measure, which was added on the day the lower house of the State Duma voted in favor of the reforms, was quickly adopted, and the bill subsequently sailed through the upper house and regional parliaments.
The Russian leader had proposed to change the constitution in January, but denied until this week that he wanted to extend his rule. His spokesman said Putin changed his mind due to global instability.
The changes also change the balance of power, strengthen the role of the advisory body of the State Council and give both Parliament and the President additional powers.
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