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17 Mar, 2020 19:59

Russians will vote on constitution changes on April 22 if coronavirus situation allows – Putin

Russians will vote on constitution changes on April 22 if coronavirus situation allows – Putin

Given COVID-19, it's difficult to predict what may happen in the coming months. But if the spread is contained, Russia's nationwide vote on proposed constitutional changes will be held on April 22, Vladimir Putin has confirmed.

The decree setting the date for the upcoming vote was signed by the president on Tuesday. Voters will be asked one simple question: ‘Do you support the constitutional changes?’

The package of constitutional amendments was tabled by Putin in January and approved by legislators earlier this month. The changes, among other things, envision extra powers for Russia’s Upper House, restricting future president’s time in office to two overall terms, and creating a new government body – the State Council.

Also on rt.com Next stop the regions: Russian lawmakers approve final bill on amendments to constitution

The amendments also ‘reset’ the term count of the sitting president – effectively allowing Putin to run again in 2024. This addition, floated by MPs when they were considering the amendments, has created much controversy – and even prompted allegations that it was the true goal behind the whole exercise. 

The vote on the amendments, however, will likely be postponed if the coronavirus pandemic spreads across Russia.

“Even considering all the importance of the constitutional changes, there’s nothing more important than health and lives of our compatriots,” Putin stressed.

So far, Russia has 114 confirmed cases of the disease but no deaths. Thousands of people, who returned from coronavirus hotspot countries or had close contact with individuals who did, remain quarantined and under medical surveillance.

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