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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mironov Says Putin Should Stay

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov called Friday for a Constitutional amendment that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in office after his second term ends.

Mironov's proposal was quickly shot down by the Kremlin, but it reflects looming uncertainty over next year's presidential election.

The comments by Mironov, who heads the pro-Kremlin party A Just Russia, also underscore what appears to be mounting pressure from some members of Putin's inner circle for him to stay on beyond the March 2008 election.

The issue is seen as a test of the country's political system. Any change that permits Putin to stay on would be seen by the West as a further erosion of democracy.

In a speech after his re-election as speaker, Mironov said the four-year presidential term should be extended to at least five years and that presidents should be permitted to serve three consecutive terms instead of two.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin remained opposed to any changes to the Constitution that would extend his term.

"We proceed from the president's position that it is pointless to change the Constitution to extend the presidential term or the number of terms," Peskov said. "The president's stance on this remains unchanged."

Several analysts and opposition leaders saw Mironov's statement as a declaration of loyalty by a longtime ally, rather than a Kremlin gambit to extend Putin's time in office. At the same time, some observers say the move reflects growing pressure on Putin to remain in power from some of his top lieutenants.

"In this nation, where there is no real parliament and the Cabinet is weak, a lame-duck president would mean anarchy," said Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Boris Makarenko, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, an independent think tank, predicted that Putin would step down as promised but would retain strong clout and try to rule from behind the scenes.

"Mironov's statement was only an expression of loyalty," he said.

Putin remains widely popular thanks to the oil-driven economic boom that has brought wider prosperity and his pledge to revive the global clout that Russia had as part of the Soviet Union.

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who is now a determined Putin foe, characterized Mironov's proposal as "hysterical weeping" by Putin loyalists who could lose their jobs in a change of administration.

"They understand that Putin will not stay on, but they don't know what to do next," he told a news conference.

Others have also urged Putin to run again, but Mironov is one of the most prominent political figures to do so.