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76% of early voters say YES to constitutional changes, which could keep Putin in power until 2036 – exit polls

76% of early voters say YES to constitutional changes, which could keep Putin in power until 2036 – exit polls
More than three-quarters of those who have voted so far support Russia’s constitutional amendments, according to exit polls. If passed, the changes could allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036.

Conducted by VCIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Center) at 800 polling stations in 25 regions of Russia, 76 percent of those who replied said they voted to pass the amendments, with 23.6 percent voting against.

The proposed package of changes would make major alterations to the basic law. Included in the proposed constitution is the ‘nullification’ of President Putin’s time served in office, opening up the possibility for him to serve two more terms and potentially remain as leader until 2036. However, most credible analysts think it’s more about keeping his options open, and avoiding the ‘lame duck’ status, rather than remaining in power until he’s 83.

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The amendments also make significant additions to the constitution with regard to ‘traditional values’, enshrining in basic law the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Controversially, the new constitution would also mention faith in God regarding the country’s heritage.

Regarding economic changes, the government would be forced to regularly index pensions and prohibiting the minimum wage from falling below the subsistence level.

The legitimacy of the vote has been marred by allegations of ballot stuffing, with claims that the amendments are only likely to pass due to faked results. A number of people have also alleged that they were able to vote more than once, with journalist Pavel Lobkov claiming that he voted both online and in person. Some worry this could lead to widespread voter fraud.

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Although the official day for voting is July 1, polling places opened in certain parts of the country on June 25. The exit polls were conducted between June 25-28, and 163,124 people were surveyed.

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