All of Russia's regions have approved new amendments to the constitution, a step that opens the possibility of President Vladimir Putin remaining in power for another 16 years.
"The Federation Council received the results of the vote in all 85 regional parliaments. All of them are positive. The Federation Council will consider this issue in plenary tomorrow," RIA Novosti quoted Andrei Klishas, chairman of the upper house of parliament's Committee on Constitutional Law, as saying on March 13.
Russia has 83 administrative regions. The amendments were also approved by the Russia-imposed legislatures in Crimea, which Moscow forcibly seized from Ukraine in 2014, and the Crimean naval port city of Sevastopol.
The United States and a large majority of world countries reject Russia's claim to Crimea and consider it part of Ukraine.
The legislation sets Putin's previous presidential term count back to zero.
Putin's current term, his second consecutive six-year term, was slated to end in 2024. The previous rules forbade him from running for a third consecutive mandate, but that changes with the provisions of the amendments, meaning he can seek a fifth overall presidential term in 2024 and conceivably a sixth in 2030.
While the amendments to the constitution initiated by Putin in January were approved by all regions, some lawmakers said they were not happy with the changes.
A lawmaker in the administrative region located in the Far East, Yakutia, voted against the amendments on March 12 and subsequently gave up her mandate, calling the amendments "illegal."
Sulustana Myraan told the local website Yakutia.Info that the regional parliament, known as Il Tumen, "showed our people what they are worth by voting for this hideousness."
"The president has no right to have all three branches of power in his grip. In addition, this voting he initiates is also illegal. During so-called debates on the amendments, lawmakers were not given a chance to express their opinions. I have nothing to do here anymore. I do not want to, and I will not disgrace myself," Myraan said.
During the debates on the amendments in Russia's regions on March 12, police detained activists who rallied in protest of the changes in several Russian cities.
The constitutional changes now must be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
Final approval will come if more than half of the country’s voters support it in an April 22 plebiscite.
Putin, a 67-year old former KGB officer, has ruled Russia as a president or prime minister for more than 20 years.