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Vladimir Putin delays vote on extending rule amid pandemic

In Depth

William Gritten

Thursday, March 26, 2020 – 6:14am

Russian President Vladimir Putin has delayed a national vote on constitutional amendments that would have extended his rule until 2036, acknowledging that the risks posed by the growing coronavirus outbreak made the vote unwise.

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The plebiscite had been scheduled for 22 April, and with government data indicating until recently that infection had been relatively well contained – despite claims that official numbers understated the true scale of the contagion – the president had resisted calls to delay it.

This week, however, the number of confirmed cases increased from 495 to 658.

“You know how seriously I feel about this,” said Putin about the vote, speaking solemnly in a national television address. “However, our absolute priority is the health and safety of our people, which is why I think it is necessary to move the vote to a later date.”

A new date for the vote has not been announced.

Why was the vote important?

Both houses of the Duma – Russia’s parliament – passed the constitutional changes last month with overwhelming support, and Russians were expected to approve the legislation in April’s vote.

The amendments concentrate power in the office of the president, reducing the power of international law, local government, and the judiciary.

Crucially, they restart the clock on presidential term limits, meaning Putin can begin a further twelve years in power when his current term ends in 2024.

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Source:: The Week – All news


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