Opposition to Fight 6-Year Presidency

APBoris Nemtsov, left, and Garry Kasparov presenting the new Solidarity movement at a news conference Thursday.
Garry Kasparov and Boris Nemtsov are teaming up to create a new democratic movement called Solidarity that will try to prevent the Kremlin from extending the presidential term to six years.

"Solidarity must become one of the few forces that will protect the Russian Constitution," Nemtsov said at a news conference Thursday.

President Dmitry Medvedev said in the state-of-the-nation address Wednesday that he wanted to extend the presidential term to six years from the current four. The change would require amending the Constitution.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, described Medvedev's proposal as an "extremely dangerous, harmful and anti-Russian initiative," RIA-Novosti reported.

In addition to Nemtsov, Solidarity is being co-founded by Kasparov, leader of the United Civil Front; Nikita Belykh, former leader of the Union of Right Forces; Yabloko's St. Petersburg leader Maxim Reznik and youth leader Ilya Yashin; and Vladimir Milov, a former deputy energy minister.

The new movement will hold a founding congress on Dec. 13, a date that Nemtsov described as "symbolic" because Russia marks Constitution Day on Dec. 12.

Meanwhile, Medvedev's term-extension proposal has reignited speculation that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could be preparing a comeback.

Vedomosti reported Thursday that the proposed term extension was part of a plan drawn up by Vladislav Surkov, Medvedev's first deputy chief of staff, to trigger an early presidential election in which Putin would run. "Under this scenario, Medvedev could resign early citing changes to the Constitution, and then presidential elections could take place in 2009," the newspaper said, citing an unidentified source close to the Kremlin.

Putin's spokesman denied the report. "These are purely the ponderings of the newspaper," he said.

(MT, Reuters)