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    UNITED RUSSIA SPEAKS AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL TERM EXTENSION

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 5, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - The United Russia faction in the State Duma, or parliament's lower house, is opposed to the idea of amending the constitution to extend the presidential term of office beyond four years.

    In an interview with the RIA Novosti, Duma Vice-Speaker Vladimir Pekhtin described the initiative as a "foolish" one. He recalled the incumbent, Vladimir Putin, having more than once voiced his negative attitude to the prospect and warned that such a move would only create an unnecessary stir.

    Vice Speaker Oleg Morozov regards proposals like this as untimely. "Introducing amendments into the Constitution is just unethical, all the more so in the course of an election campaign," he told RIA Novosti.

    Back in January, Boris Gryzlov, leader of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, commented on a proposal by some politicians to remove the temporary restrictions on the presidential tenure. He then pointed out that his party did not favor the idea, and was determined to protect the "constitution in effect." On Thursday, the Duma Council decided to consider Ivanovo MPs' motion on the extension of the presidential tenure to seven years. The possibility of relevant constitutional amendments is to be discussed by the house sometime in February.

    Before being put up before the entire house, the motion will be studied by the Constitutional Committee and the Committee for Civil, Penal, Arbitration, and Procedural Legislation.

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