Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed a law that stretches the presidential term from four years to six, amending his nation's constitution for the first time.
The measure, enthusiastically backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his political protege, Medvedev, was hustled through both houses of parliament and the provincial legislatures in less than two months.
The amendment has sparked widespread speculation that Medvedev might step down early to allow Putin to return to the presidency.
Constitutional term limits forced Putin to give up the presidency this year despite the former KGB agent's apparent taste for running the country and widespread popularity. Putin handpicked Med- vedev to run for president and moved to the prime minister's office after the election.
The new law will not take effect during Medvedev's current term.