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  Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Russia's lower house of parliament approved on Friday in the third
Russia's lower house of parliament approved on Friday in the third and final reading the president's proposed amendments to increase the presidential and parliamentary terms to six and five years, respectively.

The bill, which has yet to be approved by Russia's upper parliamentary house, the Federation Council, was passed with 392 lawmakers voting in favor and 57 against.

Those who voted against the draft law are all members of the Communist Party.

President Dmitry Medvedev's suggestion last week triggered speculation that the extension of the current four-year parliamentary and presidential terms, which would apply to the next head of state and legislature, was a pretext for the return to office of his predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov earlier dismissed speculation that the amendments were paving the way for early presidential and parliamentary elections. "Everyone must work to the end of his term," he said.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a Russian presidential aide, said in an interview with the Russia Today international news channel that the increase of the presidential term was directly connected with the present-day needs of the Russian economy.

"The prolongation of the presidential term is connected with needs of the Russian economy and not with personal needs or opinions. The longer presidential term will better serve Russia in the coming decades," Dvorkovich said.

The constitutional amendments will enter into force once they have been approved by both houses of parliament and at least two-thirds of regional legislatures and published in a government newspaper.

The lower house also approved on Friday in the third and final reading constitutional amendments introducing annual reports to parliament by the government.

The State Duma will be authorized to consider the government's reports on its activity and demand answers to lawmakers' questions.


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