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Putin Amendment May Allow Third Term

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-russia-putin,0,3745342,print.story?coll=sns-ap-nationworld-headlines Putin Amendment May Allow Third Term
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2005
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      Putin Amendment May Allow Third Term
      Associated Press Writer

      June 24, 2005, 2:50 PM EDT

      MOSCOW -- Lawmakers are considering an electoral
      amendment next week that could open the way for
      President Vladimir Putin to run for a third term,
      prompting the opposition to accuse his supporters of
      trying to cling to power.

      Putin has repeatedly said he will not change the
      constitution, which bars presidents from serving more
      than two consecutive terms.

      A senior member of his United Russia party, however,
      submitted a legislative amendment Thursday that would
      allow Putin to stand for re-election if he stepped
      down before the end of his second term ends in March
      2008, and if the next presidential poll held without
      his participation is declared invalid -- for example,
      because of low turnout.

      The lawmaker, Alexander Moskalets, deputy head of the
      lower house's constitutional legislation committee,
      declined to comment on the initiative, which was part
      of a package of electoral legislation to be voted on
      in its second reading Wednesday.

      But speculation has been rife that Putin would seek to
      stay in power beyond 2008. The 52-year-old former
      secret service chief, hand-picked to succeed former
      President Boris Yeltsin, has been highly popular since
      he was first elected in 2000.

      Critics in the opposition accused the Kremlin clan of
      seeking a backdoor means for keeping Putin in office
      because they could not find a popular enough

      "They have decided to come up with various scenarios
      that would enable the president to stay on beyond
      2008, because otherwise they will fear for their
      personal interests," said the leader of the
      nationalist Rodina (Homeland) party, Dmitry Rogozin,
      according to the news Web site Gazeta.ru.

      Liberal opposition politician Irina Khakamada, who ran
      for president in 2004, suggested Putin's supporters,
      including in the powerful secret service faction that
      now hold top positions in state companies, were
      worried about their future.

      "There is a real problem surrounding the succession.
      All they are interested in is redistribution of
      assets," she said.

      But she doubted the amendment would pass, saying Putin
      himself had no wish to tarnish his image or "burn his
      bridges with the international community" by
      circumventing the constitution.

      In April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said
      Washington was concerned about democratic backsliding
      in Russia, and that the U.S. expected Putin to respect
      the constitution and step down at the end of his term.

      During his time in power, Putin has placed national
      television under effective state control, abolished
      the direct election of regional governors to make them
      virtual Kremlin appointees, and eliminated the right
      of independent lawmakers to run for parliament.

      Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.
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