Medvedev Says Longer Term Not Panic Move

Amid calls for presidential terms to be extended not to six years, but seven, President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that he first thought about extending the term five years ago, and his Nov. 5 announcement had not been a snap decision.

"The proposals that were formulated by me were not spontaneous. They were reviewed," Medvedev told journalists on a trip to the Urals city of Izhevsk.

He said he began thinking about extending the terms of both the president and State Duma deputies while serving as chief of staff to then-President Vladimir Putin.

He added, however, that five years ago he never dreamed that he would be working to make those ideas a reality.

Medvedev unexpectedly proposed that the presidential term be extended to six years from the current four in his first state-of-the-nation speech. He also called for the terms of Duma deputies to be extended from four to five years.

The Duma is expected to pass legislation extending the terms in a key second reading Tuesday.

With the option of introducing changes to the bill ahead of the second reading, Liberal Democratic Party Deputies Igor Lebedev and Sergei Ivanov have suggested that the presidential term be extended to seven years, a goal outlined in their party's platform.

The parliaments of the Komi republic and Orenburg region appealed to Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov on Monday to back seven years as well, Kommersant reported.

Communist Viktor Ilyukhin has proposed that the president should be limited to a single term in office if the six-year term is introduced. The Constitution now allows up to two consecutive terms.

The Duma's Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, which reviews proposed changes to the bill, has rejected the Communist proposal but has not ruled on the length of the term. The Duma passed the bill in a first reading last Friday and is scheduled to consider it in a final third reading this Friday.