Almost 50 million citizens cast vote at All-Russian Constitution amendments poll

Clay Curtis
July 1, 2020

Putin made his appeal at the scene of a bloody World War Two battle between the Red Army and the Nazis on the eve of the main and last day of a seven-day nationwide vote that will change the constitution for the first time since 1993.

The new reading of the constitution stipulates the Russian president can only serve two terms, but it allows for the acting president to run for presidency again once the amendments come into force, which happens if over 50% of the Russians approve the changes.

A voter wearing a face mask and protective gloves to protect against coronavirus walks to cast her ballot at a polling station in St.Petersburg, Russia, on June 25, 2020. Others expressed hope that the changes would allow separatist republics to become part of Russian Federation.

State exit polls have suggested the changes will be backed by over two-thirds of voters, who have been encouraged to vote with prize draws offering flats and an ad campaign highlighting other amendments created to appeal to the populace.

At 60%, according to the Levada pollster, his approval rating remains high but well down on its peak of almost 90%.

Asked about his intention to stay in power till 2036, Vladimir Putin said that "he did not exclude anything", explaining it by the necessity of maintaining political stability.

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The pollster said 76 percent of those who had so far voted had backed the reforms and that 23.6 percent of people who agreed to be polled after voting said they had voted against.

Residents of Moscow and Niznny Novgorod have an opportunity to vote online.

The Kremlin's critics say the vote is a sham and they fear it will be rigged. "We vote for the country for which we work, and we want to pass it on to our children and grandchildren", Putin said.

With Russia reporting thousands of new Covid-19 cases each day, opponents have been unable to stage protests but have mocked the vote online, sharing photographs of polling stations in apartment stairwells, courtyards and the boot of a vehicle.

In one video shared on social media on Tuesday, two policemen were seen wrestling to the ground a journalist observing a polling station in St Petersburg.

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