Putin fast-tracks effort to extend his rule in Russia

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VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday fast-tracked work on constitutional changes that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024 while lawmakers quickly sealed his choice for new prime minister. Speaking to a working group created to draft constitutional changes, Putin cast his proposals as a way to strengthen parliament and to bolster democracy. Kremlin critics described the proposed changes as an attempt by Putin to secure his rule for life. The Russian leader proposed the sweeping amendments to the country's constitution in Wednesday's state of the nation address. Hours later, he fired Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who had the job for eight years, and named tax chief Mikhail Mishustin to succeed him. The Kre
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