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Russia upper house approves presidential term extension amendments

[JURIST] Russia's Federation Council [official website, in Russian], the upper house of parliament, voted 144-1 on Wednesday to approve amendments to the Russian Constitution [materials] that would extend presidential terms [Article 81(1) text] from four to six years and terms for members of the Duma [Article 96(1) text], or lower house, from four to five years. The Duma passed [JURIST report] the amendments last week, after expediting their consideration [JURIST report]. The amendments must now be supported by two-thirds of regional parliaments before they take effect. RIA Novosti has local coverage.

Critics fear that the term extensions are designed to orchestrate a longer third term for former president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; BBC News report] should current president Dmitri Medvedev [official website; JURIST news archive] step aside. Medvedev proposed the changes in his first state of the nation address [text; JURIST report] to the Federal Council earlier this month. These would be the first amendments to the Russian constitution since it replaced its Soviet-era predecessor [text, in Russian] in 1993.

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