MOSCOW (AP) – On Thursday, polls were held in Russia for a week-long vote on constitutional changes that would keep President Vladimir Putin in power until 2036.
The vote on a slew of constitutional changes, proposed by Putin in January, was initially scheduled for April 22, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was later moved to July 1, with polling stations opening a week earlier and remaining open for seven days to avoid crowds on the main voting day.
The proposed changes include an amendment to the constitution that will allow Putin, 67, who has ruled Russia for more than two decades, to run for another six years after his current term ends in 2024. improving social benefits, defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, and redistributing executive powers within the government and strengthening the presidency.
The changes have already been approved by both Houses of Parliament, the country’s Constitutional Court and have been signed by Putin. He insisted that they should be put to the vote, even though this is not required by law, in what many see as an attempt to put democracy on the controversial changes.
Keeping the vote in the midst of a pandemic has raised public health concerns as Russia continues to report more than 7,000 new virus cases daily and has a total of 606,000 confirmed infections, the third worst caseload in the world.
The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed this concern by saying that Russia has been able to slow down the epidemic and assure people that all necessary measures have been taken to ensure the security of the voters.
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