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Russia Duma passes bill limiting autonomy of Constitutional Court

[JURIST] The Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] passed a bill on Friday that would end the ability of the country's Constitutional Court [official website] to select its president and double the length of the court president's term. The bill was approved in its third reading by a final vote of 352-57 [St. Petersberg Times report]. Under the legislative amendments [JURIST report], the president of the court would be chosen by the Russian Federation Council [official website, in Russian], or upper house of parliament, instead of by members of the court. Critics of the legislation have argued [Telegraph report] that the move is an attempt by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [official website] to limit potential challenges in the Constitutional Court should he try to run for another presidential term.

In January, amendments [JURIST report] to the Russian Constitution [materials, in Russian] extending term limits for the president and members of parliament officially took effect. The amendments extending presidential terms from four to six years and terms for parliament members from four to five years were signed into law [JURIST report] by Medvedev in December. Medvedev proposed the changes in his first state of the nation [text; JURIST report] address in November. Critics fear the extension of presidential terms was designed to afford a longer third term for Putin should Medvedev step aside. Kremlin officials contend the amendments strengthen the political system.

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