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22 Jan, 2009 00:01

Constitutional changes made public

Russians are getting their first look at the country's constitution after changes extending the presidential and parliamentary terms were introduced last year.

The new version has been published by the government’s Rossiyskaya newspaper, which officially brings new legal documents into force.

The changes extend the presidential term from four to six years while parliamentarians will be elected for five years, up from four.

The amendments do not affect the incumbent president and the current parliament. They will come into force after the next presidential and Duma elections.

Some experts say the changes have been driven by a need reinforce the governance of the country.

“It is one of the attempts to stabilize the political life in the country. It is going to play a good role in the development of the Russian federation,” said the State Duma deputy Vladimir Pligin.

All eyes were on the changes to the presidential term with much speculation in the West that it was done to bring back the current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. However, some experts say the changes are not about putting Putin back in power.

“A number of different reasons to change the constitution has appeared in the last several years. And what we see now is just the consequences of that,” said Aleksey Mukhin, the general director of Political Information Center. “A presidential term of four years is not enough to produce real changes.”

President Dmitry Medvedev initiated the changes to the constitution in November. He said the changes were constitutional ‘adjustment’ rather than ‘amendment’ – which would require a nationwide referendum.

After adoption in parliament and regional legislatures, the document was signed into law by the president.