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Putin says presidential term may be extended to 7 years

President Vladimir Putin said he believes the presidential term in Russia could be extended to five to seven years, but that the number of consecutive terms should be limited.

Under the current Constitution, the president can be elected to a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms. „I believe that the limitation by the number of terms is justified,” Putin said an interview with journalists from the G8 leading industrialized nations, adding, however, that four years is too short a time for Russia. „In modern Russia, five, six or seven years is quite acceptable,” he said. He said that he had been (acting) prime minister before becoming president so he knew „what was going on and what was involved in the decision-making process.” „But if, for example, a governor is elected (president), it will take him at least two years to understand national and international problems, but by then a new election campaign will have to be launched,” he said.

Putin said he intends to work after his term expires in 2008, adding that it was premature to say exactly in what capacity. „I have certain ideas about this, but it is too soon to talk about it. Even under current Russian law, I am far from pension age, and it would be absurd just to sit at home doing nothing,” he said, adding that his final decision will depend, among other things, on the political setup in Russia at the end of this year and at the start of next. He said restoration of Russia's territorial integrity, strengthening the state and economic development were among his principal achievements as president. Putin said in his annual state of the nation address to the Russian parliament in late April that it was his last one and the next would be delivered by another president.

The prospect of President Vladimir Putin remaining in power for a third presidential term after 2008, when his current term expires, has been widely debated in Russia, although the president himself has repeatedly said he will not run again. Sergei Mironov, speaker of parliament's upper house, proposed in March that the presidential mandate be extended to five to seven years, and that a third term added. (