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Russian Legislators Vote For Longer Presidential Term

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's lower house of parliament has approved on final reading a constitutional amendment extending the presidential term of office from four to six years.

The amendment was passed by the State Duma lower house by 392 votes to 57.

Kremlin critics say the change could be part of a plan for ex-President Vladimir Putin to return to his old job, though officials have denied that.

The chamber, dominated by Putin's ruling Unified Russia party, also voted overwhelmingly to extend its own term to five years from four years.

The amendments, proposed by President Dmitry Medvedev, now have to be approved by three-quarters of the upper chamber of parliament and two-thirds of regional legislatures across Russia to become law.

The longer Kremlin term will not apply to the term Medvedev is serving now, and Putin's spokesman has said there is no plan for an early presidential election.