Putin strongly backed in controversial Russian reform vote

World

Russia – Nearly 78% of Russian voters backed constitutional reform that could keep President Vladimir Putin in power until 2036, said election officials.

With all the ballots counted, 77.9% voted for the reform package and 21.3% voted against it, said the electoral commission.

The reform will reset Putin’s term limits to zero in 2024, and this will allow him to serve two more six-year terms.

Opposition figures denounced the vote, saying Putin was aiming to be “president for life”, a claim he has denied.

Putin is already the longest-serving leader in modern Russian history since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

An independent Russian election group, Golos, has castigated the vote, saying there were many violations of democracy. The group’s criticism include: opponent being barred from campaigning in the media, remote electronic voting was organised on an illegal basis, election monitors were appointed by the Civic Chamber – a governing body.

The group described it as “just PR exercise from the very start” and says “there was no legal need for it”. The vote “will go down in history as an attack on the sovereignty of the people,” said the group.

The reforms also include a ban on same-sex marriage – by defining marriage as between a man and a woman – and introducing a reference to Russia’s ancestral “faith of God”.

According to the officials, turnout was 65%, with the highest levels of support – above 90% – were in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, in Chechnya in the North Cauvasus, and Tuva, in Siberia.

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