Constitutional reforms proposed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have passed their final political hurdle. The upper house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend presidential terms, with all 142 senators present supporting the plan to lengthen the presidency from four to six years. The decision is the last step in the legislative process and will take effect from the next presidential election in 2012.
But critics say Medvedev is in the pocket of current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They claim the law is part of a wider plan for the former president to return to the Kremlin’s top job. Earlier this month, Putin indicated he could run for a third stint as President once Medvedev’s term finishes.