Nov 26, 2008

World - Parliament approves longer Russian presidential term

MOSCOW: Parliament has given its final approval to a Kremlin plan to extend future Russian presidential terms to six years instead of four.

The upper chamber on Wednesday voted 144-1 in favor of the plan. The lower house had previously backed the proposed constitutional change.

It is widely seen as a way to give powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the option of returning to the presidency for six or even 12 years. Putin has said the proposal was not tailored for him, but has not ruled out a return.

The next election is scheduled for 2012, but analysts say the change could be used as a pretext for an earlier vote.

The plan must now be approved by two-thirds of Russia's regional legislatures, a virtual certainty because Putin's party dominates them.

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