Putin Denied Chance At 3rd Term

President Vladimir Putin signs autographs for servicemen at the Yermolovka border post, southern Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006. President Vladimir Putin visited on Tuesday the border post which is located in the Sochi area and was opened in 1993. (AP Photo/ITAR-TASS, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)
Russia's Central Election Commission on Wednesday dismissed an appeal that would have allowed President Vladimir Putin to run for a third term.

The country's chief election body ruled against the appeal filed by a regional group to conduct a referendum asking citizens whether the country's president should be able to serve more than two consecutive terms, a spokesman at the commission said.

Russia's constitution bars presidents from serving more than two four-year terms in a row, but several organizations have called for an amendment that would allow the popular president to stay in power.

Putin has ruled out staying in office beyond 2008, insisting the country's constitution should be left intact.

He is believed to be choosing a successor to replace him, but some analysts have speculated that he might still choose to stay on if the Kremlin feels it is unable to guarantee his successor would be elected, and if it was made legally feasible.

A well-informed government source told CBS News' Moscow bureau Wednesday that the Kremlin supported the commission's decision to reject the referendum petition.

According to the source, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media, Putin does not want to stay on for another term — at least not now.

The Wednesday ruling referred specifically to a proposal from the "Accord and Stability" group in the southern province of North Ossetia and appeared to leave the door open for other proposals on the subject.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.