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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Deputies Vote for Immunity

Lawmakers in the Moscow City Duma approved in first reading a bill giving themselves immunity Wednesday, a day after the city government drew up a bundle of legislation meant to align the city with federal laws.

The immunity bill, which forbids the search, questioning, detainment or arrest of lawmakers without the City Duma's consent, is expected to be passed in a second and final reading next Wednesday, according to the City Duma press service.

The bill then goes to Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov for his signature.

A number of deputies had balked at giving the go-ahead to the immunity measure over concerns that the move would be unethical, Interfax reported.

City Duma Speaker Vladimir Platonov called the immunity bill "inexpedient," saying that existing laws were sufficient.

"I think that the [old] provision protected deputies from any surprises and allowed them to not be afraid that someone would drop white powder or a bullet into their pockets," Platonov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

The current law only allows the city prosecutor — not lower-ranking district prosecutors — to bring criminal charges against lawmakers.

He added that the City Duma had to pass the bill to comply with federal law.

Deputies in the State Duma already have immunity from criminal charges.

The city government on Tuesday approved several structural changes. One change switches the city's executive branch of power from the Mayor's Office to the Moscow government. The position of prime minister, which Luzhkov holds along with mayor, would be abolished.

Under the draft law, mayoral responsibilities such as property management, the city budget and the appointment of departments and committees would be transferred to the government.

The city government also decided to make the deputy mayor an appointed rather than elected post. The proposal allows the current deputy mayor, Valery Shantsev, to keep his position until his term ends in 2003.

In addition, the government sent to the City Duma legislation that would bring the city budget in line with the federal budget code.

The bills have been sent to the City Duma for its approval.

Platonov said that the City Duma will approve the bills by October, Interfax reported.