Duma Cleared Road For Putin: Reform Bill Passed
Today Duma has cleared the way for Putin , by extending presidential term to six year.
A bill to extend the presidential term from four to six years has passed the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, by an overwhelming majority.
Some 392 deputies voted for the constitutional changes, to 57 against, in the bill's third and final reading.
The measure also has to pass the upper house, but that is seen as a formality, as it is largely loyal to the Kremlin.
The bill has been fast-tracked, and is being seen as a sign Vladimir Putin may return to the presidency soon.
Mr Putin became prime minister this year after being obliged under the constitution to step down after two consecutive presidential terms. He was succeeded as president by Dmitry Medvedev.
The BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says it has always been assumed that Mr Putin may return after Mr Medvedev has completed one term.
But the apparent rush to get this constitutional amendment through is being seen by some as a sign that Mr Putin is in a hurry and may return much sooner.
Then he could potentially serve another two six-year terms.
The bill also extends the mandate of the lower house, the State Duma, from four years to five.
The constitutional change will only apply to the next president and the government says it is needed because the existing four-year term is too short to implement serious reforms in such a huge country.