The Russian parliament’s lower house has approved the extension of the presidential term from four to six years in the new law’s penultimate reading. Observers say it brings the possibility of a return to the top for former president Vladimir Putin a step closer.
Putin is currently prime minister having served a maximum two four-year terms, but the constitutional amendment could mean he starts from a clean sheet, and could now serve two new terms of six years each.
The changes will not apply to current president Dimitri Medvedev, who sought the constitutional amendment. Some analysts have suggested approval of the law could trigger Medvedev’s resignation, and early presidential elections to bring Putin back, but the Kremlin has denied this.
Only Communist members of the Duma voted against, and a small protest in the centre of Moscow attracted little support. Putin is already a very powerful prime minister, and he says he has made no decision about a second stint as president.