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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Agrees to Debate Legality of Yeltsin's Immunity

Members of the lower house State Duma agreed Tuesday to schedule a debate on the legality of President-elect Vladimir Putin's decree extending immunity from prosecution to his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

The Council of the State Duma scheduled the debate for Wednesday. But the head of the chamber's legislation committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, predicted members would reject suggestions that Putin's New Year's Eve decree was unconstitutional.

Putin issued the decree within hours after he was appointed acting president by Yeltsin, who resigned unexpectedly.

It applied to future former presidents including Yeltsin, rather than Yeltsin personally, and provided for recipients to receive health care and a pension equal to 75 percent of their last salaries.

Wednesday's debate is to deal specifically with an appeal to the Constitutional Court by the Communist Party, the Duma's second-largest faction, to strike down the decree as illegal.

Communist member Sergei Reshulsky told RTR state television that his party believed the decree was unconstitutional as it applied to officials no longer in office.

Krasheninnikov, a member of the Union of Right Forces party, which tends to be friendly to Putin, disagreed.

"I think the decree was legal," Krasheninnikov, a former justice minister, told RTR. "If a question is not regulated by federal law, it can be regulated by decree, so I believe this was issued legally."

The decree generated considerable controversy as Putin was designated by Yeltsin as his preferred successor last August when he was appointed prime minister.

Yeltsin was shown on television toasting Putin's first-round victory in Sunday's presidential election and then congratulating him during a brief meeting Monday night at the former president's residence.

Controversy over the decree was heightened by suggestions of corruption and mismanagement during Yeltsin's eight years in office.

Swiss prosecutors are investigating allegations of bribe-taking and money laundering in Yeltsin's Kremlin.