Medvedev denies plans to quit early

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Moscow, Nov 13 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has denied that he was planning to quit early, without completing his four-year term.

Mr Medvedev's announcement last week to amend the Constitution to extend the presidential and parliamentary terms from four to six years and five years, respectively, triggered media speculation that the constitutional changes were intended to pave the way for the return of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as President.

Some media reports said Mr Medvedev could step down next year to clear the way for Mr Putin.

''Well, I am working now, why do you suggest I would make such decisions?'' he said while answering a question from French newspaper Le Figaro whether his decision would enable Mr Putin to return to power as President.

''There is only one thing I can tell you for certain -- these changes will only affect the candidate which will be elected to the post of President after these amendments come into force,'' Mr Medvedev said in his interview to the paper ahead of his visit to France for Russia-EU summit.

''The office terms of supreme power, be it the President or Parliament, should first and foremost suit the interests of the country's development,'' he said.

''If we take a look at France's recent history, the seven years in power introduced in Charles de Gaulle's Constitution allowed the solution of a whole range of problems,'' he said, stressing later the people of France saw that it was no longer relevant, and the necessary changes were introduced.

''We will wait and see. We will work with this office term now, but who knows what will happen in 30 or 40 years,'' the President said.

Commenting on Mr Medvedev's announcement, Mr Putin said yesterday he had no plans so far to run again for the presidency.

''I back Mr Medvedev's proposals. Proposals connected with amendments to the Constitution have no personal dimension. Regarding who could run for the next term and when, it is too early to discuss this,'' Mr Putin told mediapersons.

Russia's lower house, the State Duma, is expected to swiftly approve the amendments.

Mr Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia party said today the lower house could approve the amendments in three readings at tomorrow's session.

UNI XC SKB CS1833

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