Russians begin votes in referendum to extend Putin’s rule

by Abdulmumeen S. Yitta

Russians have begun a seven-day vote on a constitutional reform that could extend President Vladimir Putin’s rule beyond 2024.

While disclosing this on Thursday June 25, 2020, the election officials stated that voting had commenced ahead of July 1, the date scheduled for the nationwide vote.

The officials added that the method was adopted in order to avoid overcrowding which could be detrimental to the public health as the nation still grapples with coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on this earlier this month, Ella Pamfilova, the chairwoman of the Central Election Committee said voting would start seven days prior official date to avoid large crowds.

Health officials have raised concerns over the vote on the ground that rate of coronavirus infections keeps soaring above 70,00 a day.

The Kremlin though denied that rates of infection keeps rising saying instead that they have been able to slow down the rate of infections.

As per the voting, voters have been duly assured that necessary measures would be put in place to ensure their safety.

The election on constitutional reforms earlier scheduled to hold on April 22 was postponed as the coronavirus cases keep rising.

Voting has officially been allowed since June 10 for those who don’t have access to polling stations.

The reform to 1993 constitution was put in motion by Putin earlier this year with a promise to make it nationwide.

The reform was adopted by houses of parliament and regional lawmakers.
Putin however publicly stated that voting on the reform is not legally required but it would give Russians legitimacy to involve in the process.

The constitutional reform would only have the final approval if half of voters nationwide cast their votes in support of it. If finally approved, the reform would pave way for Putin to run for another terms of office beyond 2024.

Although, Putin said in a statement last week that no decision has been reached yet as to whether he would run for another term beyond 2024.

“Otherwise, I know that in two years, instead of working normally at all levels of the state, all eyes will be on the search for potential successors. We must work and not look for successors,” said Putin.

Putin’s push for a constitutional reform has gained approval from many senior political officials while knowing quite well that with the reform Putin’s chance of remaining in power is unconditionally high.

Sergei Sobyanin, the Moscow Mayor, has said that the reform is necessary as it would guarantee stability and remove uncertainties.

The reform has on the contrary been met with opposition from other political officials as well.

Alexei Navalny, Opposition campaigner has condemned the reform saying that it would only make Putin a life president.

Speaking in rejection of the reform he said, “It is a violation of the Constitution, acoup.”

The opposition campaign against the reform has however practically failed to influence Russians to rally against it.
Similarly, a Moscow court, blocked a website tagged ‘No’ intended to gather signatures of Russians who are opposed to the reform.

The reform which seems to be gathering momentum would increase presidential power to nominate top judges and prosecutors which would require approval by the upper house of parliament.

It guarantees minimum wage which would not be less than minimum sustenance level, and Pension across state would see adjustment based on changes in inflation level annually. The reform also stipulates banning of gay marriage in the country.

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