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Top Russian Lawmaker Calls for Scrapping Presidential Term Limits

A leading Russian lawmaker has reiterated calls for constitutional changes that, if approved, would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in office beyond next year. But a Kremlin spokesman quickly rejected the plan, saying President Putin sees no reason for the move. VOA's Lisa McAdams in Moscow reports.

Parliamentary speaker Sergei Mironov proposed scrapping the two-term limit for holding the presidency during a parliament session Friday.

Mironov said the new limit should be three terms in office, rather than two. He also suggested extending the president's mandate from the current four years, to five or seven years in office.

The proposed constitutional amendment offers a glimmer of hope to pro-Putin supporters who would like to see the president stay in office.

But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to reject Mironov's appeal, saying the president does not believe there is any need to change the Constitution.

President Putin has repeatedly refused to answer whether he would seek a third term. He has said only that he would like to play a continuing role in Russian politics, without elaborating.

Political analyst Nikolai Petrov of Moscow's Carnegie Center says speaker Mironov's political clout is growing and that his appeals cannot be ignored. At the same time, he says he doubts Mr. Putin will stay on in the end.

"[The] Russian political system is designed in such a way [that] the president is the single factor which is providing stability of the political system, due to the fact all other political institutions are weak, which means that the president cannot afford being a lame duck," he explained. "In our case, it means until the very last moment there should be some uncertainty with regard to how, and to whom, the power will be transferred."

Analyst Petrov says if it comes to the point where President Putin can no longer keep in check rival Kremlin political clans, an intervention may be needed.

"I would not exclude they [the Kremlin elite] will find a moment when power will be transferred and this moment will not necessarily coincide with the dates of the already planned presidential elections," he added.

Petrov adds that a lot of what is fueling the calls for Mr. Putin to stay in power is the desire to ensure Russia's stability. But he says putting off the decision only means the same questions and concerns will resurface.