Russians overwhelmingly accredited a bundle of constitutional adjustments in a nationwide vote, partial outcomes confirmed Wednesday, permitting President Vladimir Putin to probably lengthen his two-decade rule till 2036.
With 60 % of ballots counted after the tip of seven days of voting, 76.9 % of voters had supported the reforms, the central election fee stated.
There had been little doubt of voters backing the adjustments, which Putin introduced earlier this yr and critics denounced as a manoeuvre to permit him to remain within the Kremlin for all times.
However prime Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny slammed the outcomes as a “enormous lie” which do not replicate actual public opinion.
The amendments had been handed weeks in the past by Russia’s parliament and copies of the brand new structure had been already on sale in bookshops, however Putin had stated voter approval was important to offer them legitimacy.
The reforms embody conservative and populist measures — like assured minimal pensions and an efficient ban on homosexual marriage — however crucially for Putin additionally reset presidential limits permitting him to run twice once more after his present six-year time period expires in 2024.
Turnout as of 2000 GMT was about 65 %, the election fee stated.
The Kremlin pulled out all of the stops to encourage voting, with polls prolonged over almost every week, the final day of voting declared a nationwide vacation and prizes — together with flats, vehicles and money — on supply to voters.
Initially deliberate for April 22, the referendum was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic however rescheduled after Putin stated the epidemic had peaked and officers started reporting decrease numbers of latest circumstances.
‘Stability, safety, prosperity’
In a ultimate enchantment to voters on Tuesday, Putin stated the adjustments had been wanted to make sure Russia’s future “stability, safety, prosperity”.
State tv confirmed Putin voting Wednesday at his regular polling station on the Russian Academy of Sciences, the place he was handed a poll by an electoral employee sporting a surgical masks and gloves.
Wearing a darkish go well with and tie, Putin was not sporting any protecting gear.
At a polling station in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, 79-year-old Valentina Kungurtseva informed AFP she supported the reforms.
“For us as pensioners, it is essential that they’ll improve our pension yearly,” she stated.
“So long as we’ve an excellent president, life can be good,” she stated.
Within the second metropolis, Saint Petersburg, 20-year-old Sergei Goritsvetov stated he opposed the reforms however doubted it might make any distinction.
“I voted towards and I hope there can be many people, however I do not know what it would change,” he stated. “At the very least I expressed my opinion.”
Navalny had stated Putin, 67 and in energy as president or prime minister since 2000, needs to make himself “president for all times” and known as for a boycott, calling the vote illegitimate.
“We’ve simply watched a present with a deliberate finale,” he wrote on his weblog after polls closed.
“Putin won’t go away himself,” Navalny wrote, “not till we start to come back out to the streets by the a whole bunch of hundreds, by tens of millions.”
The opposition divided and did not mount a critical marketing campaign, with some voting “no” and others staying dwelling. There have been solely small protests in central Moscow and Saint-Petersburg Wednesday.
Falling approval rankings
Golos, an impartial election monitor, stated it had acquired a whole bunch of complaints of violations, together with individuals voting greater than as soon as and claims employers had been placing stress on workers to forged ballots.
Election fee chief Ella Pamfilova denied any issues on Wednesday, saying solely a few violations had been confirmed and they might haven’t any impact on the outcome.
Putin’s approval ranking has fallen in latest months. It stood at 60 % in June in keeping with pollster Levada, down 20 factors from the months after his re-election in 2018.
Analysts say Putin wished to get the vote over with earlier than Russians — already affected by a number of years of falling incomes — are hit by the complete financial impression of the pandemic.
Putin stated in a latest interview that he had not determined whether or not to run once more however instructed that a part of the explanation for the presidential reset was to permit Russia’s political elite to concentrate on governing as a substitute of “trying to find potential successors”.
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)