Russian lawmakers yesterday unanimously approved a sweeping constitutional reform bill put forward by President Vladimir Putin in its first reading. All 432 lawmakers present in the lower house State Duma voted in favour of the bill, just three days after the amendments were presented to parliament. Second reading of the bill is expected on February 11. The bill will then face a third reading, but with parliament dominated by Kremlin-loyal lawmakers it is unlikely to face much pushback. Putin made the call for reforms last Wednesday and it was quickly followed by the resignation of the government and the appointment of a new premier and cabinet. The breakneck speed of the changes has fuelled speculation about Putin’s plans, with some saying he is laying the groundwork to hold on to power after his current term expires in 2024.