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2 Jul, 2020 06:56

Russians overwhelmingly back changes to constitution with almost 78% voting for & 21% against

Russians overwhelmingly back changes to constitution with almost 78% voting for & 21% against

The majority of Russians have endorsed changes to the constitution in a week-long vote. Some 78 percent approved the amendments, while 21 percent were opposed, the Electoral Commission announced after all ballots were counted.

Voters were able to exercise their franchise either for or against the 206 proposed amendments from June 25 until July 1. The vote, initially set for April, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the period of voting itself was extended to allow for social distancing. Residents of Moscow, the city hit hardest by the coronavirus, and those in Nizhny Novgorod could also vote online.

However, the final day of voting – Wednesday – still saw millions going to the polls all over the country to cast their ballots in person. Turnout has been estimated at some 65 percent.

The proposed amendments, the bulk of which are dedicated to social issues, have grabbed headlines in the West because they also redefine eligibility for the presidency and could theoretically provide President Vladimir Putin with a chance to stay in power for two more terms. 

Other changes include a state guarantee of a minimum wage above subsistence level; a mandatory adjustment of pensions according to inflation; the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman; a ban on top government officials holding foreign passports; and restricting future presidents to serving only two terms. There was some controversy about the new document also including a mention of God in relation to the country’s heritage. 

The final day of voting largely proceeded incident-free, although several hundred people in Moscow and several dozen in St. Petersburg took to the streets to voice their opposition to the overhaul. The rally in the Russian capital was peaceful, and saw police officers handing out protective masks to the predominantly young activists.

Also on rt.com Vote on amendments isn’t about Putin, it’s the first ever ‘truly Russian constitution’ - leading historian

Overall, there were 839 reports of violations during the whole week of voting, including 126 recorded on Wednesday. While investigations have been launched, and already led to results at one of the polling stations in Moscow being annulled, officials say that the reported irregularities are largely minor, and will not affect the final tally.

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