Putin Sets Date for Constitutional Amendment Vote to Stay in Power 16 More Years

Russia's President Vladimir Putin slammed the intensifying probe into Russian meddling in the US presidential election, saying it bore witness to "a rise in anti-Russian hysteria" in Washington.
AFP/Kay Nietfeld

On July 1, Russia will vote on a constitutional amendment bill that could see President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Monday.

The July 1 national vote date was set on Monday, decided upon by Putin at a meeting with co-chairs of the group working to prepare the bill. The original vote date for the bill of constitutional amendments was April 22, but was postponed due to Russia’s coronavirus outbreak. The bill was approved by legislators and Russia’s Constitutional Court in March.

Among other reforms, the bill contains a constitutional amendment that would allow Putin to remain in power past 2024, when his current presidential term ends, for another 12 years, according to the report. Putin began his current term in 2018; it is his second consecutive six-year term as president. As either president or prime minister, Putin has held power in Russia for over 20 years.​

As it exists now, Russia’s constitution prohibits people from serving more than two consecutive terms as president. The proposed amendments would allow Putin to seek a fifth overall presidential term in 2024, and possibly a sixth term in 2030, RFE/RL reports. The measures will need more than half of the national vote to be approved.

According to Ella Pamfilova, the chairwoman of Russia’s Central Election Committee, voting on the bill will be held over a seven-day period, from June 25 to July 1, “due to epidemiological concerns” from the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The committee aims to stretch out voting over several days to discourage large crowds gathering at polling stations, Russian news agency TASS reports. According to RFE/RL, Pamfilova also said that “two or three regions” in Russia will use an “electronic voting system,” though the specific regions were not identified at the time.

RFE/RL reports that the proposed amendments to extend Putin’s rule have “sparked protests in Russian cities and towns.” According to a poll released on Monday by Levada, a Russian independent polling agency, 28 percent of Russian respondents “voiced readiness to take part in protests over falling living standards” in Russia. Levada said this figure was “up four percentage points from the previous survey in February and the highest share seen since the 30 percent peak in November 2018, after Putin signed a controversial law raising the retirement age.”

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