There have been demonstrations in Moscow against a vote in favour of extending both the parliament’s and the president’s mandate.
To cries of “Russia without Putin” opposition supporters expressed their concern at legislation which they fear could pave the way for Vladimir Putin to return as president.
Former chess champion turned political activist Garry Kasparov said: “It was a very cynical message both to the Russian people and to the rest of the world that this regime, this clique, is going to stay in power no matter at what cost.”
Russia’s lower house, the Duma, has given initial approval for a proposal by Putin’s protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, to extend the presidential term from four to six years.
The bill is widely expected to receive final approval by December.