Fed Council Approves 6-Year Term

The Federation Council on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment extending the presidential term from four to six years.

The bill sailed through the Federation Council with 144 votes in favor and one against. The amendment has now been passed by both chambers of parliament. The State Duma approved the bill in a third and final reading Friday.

The amendment must now be ratified by two-thirds of regional parliaments -- almost all of which are dominated by Kremlin loyalists -- before being sent to President Dmitry Medvedev to be signed into law.

Police detained a lone anti-Kremlin protester outside the Federation Council building in central Moscow after he tried to unfurl a banner criticizing the plan.

The amendment was first proposed by Medvedev in his state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5.

Critics of the Kremlin say the change could be part of a plan for Medvedev's predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to return to his old job, although officials deny this.

The legislation has been rushed through the parliamentary process in less than four weeks with little dissent except from Communists who do not have enough votes to block it.

The longer Kremlin term will not apply to Medvedev's present mandate, and Putin's spokesman has said there is no plan for him to make a comeback in an early presidential election.