Voting on Constitutional Amendments Has Begun in Russia

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In Russia today, a vote has begun on constitutional amendments that, among other things, propose the cancellation of the presidential term of Vladimir Putin. This will allow him to run for president again and remain in power until 2036. Voting will last a whole week until July 1. For this, 96 and a half thousand polling stations are open in Russia, as well as 254 polling stations in 144 countries of the world. Due to the epidemic of coronavirus in some regions, for the first time in recent history, polling stations are organized outdoors - in tents and booths. Also, everyone can vote at home (for this, an application had to be submitted before June 21). Between June 25 and 30, also electronic voting on amendments will be held in Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod Region. In Moscow, more than a million people registered for it – one in seven voters. Over 67 thousand citizens of Russia located in remote areas have already voted. This was announced on June 23 by the head of the CEC, Ella Pamfilova. Over the past month, the media reported mass complaints of citizens about being forced by their superiors and employers to vote on constitutional amendments, as well as to agitate others to come to polling stations. In particular, teachers of Moscow schools, doctors from Kirov, employees of the PIK construction company group, students of Tver State University and Novosibirsk Medical State University, prisoners from several Moscow pre-trial detention centers and many others complained about this. Pamfilova termed most complaints as “fake”. Counting of the voting results will begin after polling stations are closed on July 1. Amendments to the Constitution of Russia were initiated by Vladimir Putin in January. He then also said that the amendments should be approved by popular vote, although the law did not require this. Initially, the vote was planned for April 22, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed until July 1 with the possibility of early voting starting June 25. Among the most discussed changes to the Basic Law are the priority of the Russian Constitution over the international law and “nullification” of the presidential term. For the amendments to enter into force, they must be approved by more than half of the participants in the popular vote. The turnout does not matter, unlike a referendum, where it is required that more than half of the voters come to the polls. Nevertheless, a number of media reported that the Kremlin set a plan to ensure the turnout of at least 50% of the total number of voters in the country. A number of representatives of the Russian opposition urge to boycott the voting, arguing that the authorities have all the tools to falsify it. Others urge to come to the polls and vote against.