Russian voters back reforms allowing Putin to stay until 2036

Updated 02 Jul 2020

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The reforms will allow Putin to to run twice again after his current six-year term expires in 2024. — AP/File
The reforms will allow Putin to to run twice again after his current six-year term expires in 2024. — AP/File

MOSCOW: Russians overwhelmingly approved a package of constitutional changes in a nationwide vote, partial results showed on Wednesday, allowing President Vladimir Putin to potentially extend his two-decade rule until 2036.

With almost 30 per cent of polling stations reporting after the end of six days of voting, 74 percent of voters had supported the reforms, the central election commission said.

There had been little doubt of voters backing the changes, which Putin announced earlier this year and critics denounced as a manoeuvre to allow him to stay in the Kremlin for life.

The amendments had been passed weeks ago by Russia’s parliament and copies of the new constitution were already on sale in bookshops, but Putin had said voter approval was essential to give them legitimacy.

The reforms include conservative and populist measures — like guaranteed minimum pensions and an effective ban on gay marriage — but crucially for Putin also reset presidential limits allowing him to run twice again after his current six-year term expires in 2024.

Turnout as of 17:00 GMT was just under 65 per cent, the election commission said.

The Kremlin pulled out all the stops to encourage voting, with polls extended over nearly a week, the last day of voting declared a national holiday and prizes — including apartments and cars — on offer to voters.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020