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Russian Parliament Approves Longer Presidential Term


The upper house of Russia's parliament has overwhelmingly approved extending the presidential term from four to six years.

Lawmakers in the upper house voted 144 - 1 in favor of the measure, less than a week after Russia's lower house, the State Duma, voted in favor of the change.

President Dmitri Medvedev proposed the extension of the president's term earlier this month. Opposition groups fear the change could be used as an excuse to call an early election in which Vladimir Putin, who now serves as prime minister, could run for the presidency.

Russian officials have downplayed that possibility, and also note that the changes would not apply to Mr. Medvedev's current term.

The constitutional amendment must now be approved by at least two-thirds of regional legislatures.

The bill also extends the term of Duma members from four to five years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.