Russian parliament approves longer presidential terms
"Russian lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a bill extending presidential terms, after a speech on the economy by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revived speculation over his political ambitions.
The bill, which sailed through the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, would extend presidential terms from four to six years and would be the first change to Russia's post-Soviet constitution adopted in 1993."
"Putin took the political initiative and responsibility" by giving a speech at the party congress "that was meant to be given by Medvedev," the Vedomosti daily newspaper reported Friday, citing political analyst Dmitry Badovsky.
The extension of presidential terms has been seen by some analysts as paving the way for Putin's return to the presidency after he left in May having served the maximum two consecutive terms allowed by the constitution.
"The haste in which the Duma adopted this reform leads one to think that the authorities are speeding up to prepare a return to the Kremlin for Putin," said Yevgeny Volk from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank.
Vedomosti earlier this month cited two Kremlin sources saying that Medvedev would resign soon after the approval of the amendments and that Putin would then run in a presidential election next year.
The constitution has no provision against former presidents who have already served two terms from running again, as long as some time passes between the end of their second term and their new candidacy."
And thus begin the first steps to the new and improved Soviet Union...