Putin Signs Law Curbing Referendums

President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law an amendment imposing new restrictions on national referendums, which was vehemently opposed by Communists.

The State Duma earlier this month voted 363-8 to amend existing laws in a third and final reading, effectively barring referendums on national issues such as the federal budget, taxation, treaties and the presidential term of office.

All 57 members of the Duma's Communist faction walked out in protest during the April 4 vote, saying the amendment deprived citizens of a voice in deciding issues of national importance. Such referendums are binding under the law, though few have been initiated since the Soviet collapse.

The bill was subsequently approved by the Federation Council on April 16 and signed into law by Putin, the Kremlin said Friday.

Deputies from the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which has a constitutional majority in the Duma, say the amendment will halt speculative attempts to hold referendums on issues that could violate the constitution.

Reuters, AP, MT