- Title: Russian opposition, observers doubt legitimacy of constitutional vote
- Date: 1st July 2020
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JULY 1, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RUSSIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION AT WORK MAP OF MOSCOW VOTE ON SCREEN MAPS OF RUSSIAN CITIES ON SCREEN
- Embargoed: 15th July 2020 15:43
- Keywords: Golos Navalny Open Russia Putin Russia Volkov constitution constitutional change protest vote
- Location: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- City: MOSCOW, RUSSIA
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001CKZA2X3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Russian opposition figures, as well as the observers of Golos NGO, flagged multiple violations during the nationwide vote on Wednesday (July 1).
Vitaly Averin, one of the observers said that the majority of violations - including ballot stuffing and meddling with the list of voters - largely happened during the early vote.
"Today I can say we have such a show-off procedure," he said.
Leonid Volkov, one of the Russian opposition figures, called upon people to continue fighting against Putin's authority.
Russians appeared to have paved the way for Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036 by voting overwhelmingly for a package of constitutional changes which will also boost pensions, initial results of a nationwide vote showed on Wednesday (July 1).
Partial results, announced five hours before polls closed, indicate the former KGB officer who has ruled Russia for more than two decades as president or prime minister will win the right to run for two more terms. That means he could remain president for 16 more years.
The Central Election Commission said just over 70% of votes counted across the world's largest country had supported changing the constitution. Almost 29% had voted no of the 2.68% of ballots counted. Fuller results are due at 1900 GMT.
Russians have been encouraged to vote with prize draws offering flats and an ad campaign highlighting other constitutional amendments in the same reform bundle, such as the pensions protection and a de facto ban on same-sex marriages.
Turnout had reached nearly 60% by midday, election officials said. The required turnout is 50% and the amendments will pass if they are backed by a simple majority of voters.
Putin, 67, made no mention of how the changes could affect his own career in an eve-of-vote speech on Tuesday. They would allow him to run for another two six-year, consecutive stints after his current term expires in 2024.
Putin has said he has yet to decide on his future. Critics say they are sure he will run again, but some analysts say he may want to keep his options open to avoid becoming a lame duck.
At 60%, according to the Levada pollster, his approval rating remains high but well down on its peak of nearly 90%.
(Production: Anton Derbenev, Mikhail Antonov, Alexander Reshetnikov)
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