The Russian parliament is now just one vote away from amending the constitution to extend the presidential term from four to six years. It is an initiative widely thought to be tailor-made for former president Vladimir Putin to return to the highest office.
The Communists voted against, and others were unhappy, including firebrand nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky: “You have touched the most sacred thing, the Constitution, and you’ve muzzled the opposition at the same time. Our country doesn’t need such a constitution, that’s why we haven’t voted and we won’t vote,” he said.
The constitutional amendment was put forward by President Dimitry Medvedev, Putin’s protege and chosen successor. Putin has retained great power as prime minister, but there are suspicions he is impatient to return to the Kremlin:
“One theory has it that the top leadership wants these amendments in place so that Vladimir Putin can then return to power and become president again even before the legal term of president Medvedev expires. So then an early election may be called and Putin will be elected and will be president for another 12years,” said political analyst Masha Lipman. Putin has not yet said if he wants to return to the presidency.