Russian voters back reforms

By AFP - Global Times Source:AFP Published: 2020/7/2 16:03:41

Constitutional measures extend Putin’s power to 2036

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the online meeting with members of the government at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on April 15, 2020. (Kremlin photo)

Russians overwhelmingly approved a package of constitutional changes in a nationwide vote, partial results showed Wednesday, allowing President Vladimir Putin to potentially extend his two-decade rule until 2036.

With just over 85 percent of ballots counted after the end of seven days of voting, 77.8 percent of voters had supported the reforms, according to election commission figures cited by Russian state agencies. 

There had been little doubt of voters backing the changes, which Putin announced earlier in 2020.

But top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny slammed the results as a "huge lie" that did not reflect real public opinion.

"The statistical results released by the Russia's Central Elections Commission reflect the choice of the Russian people," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

"As a friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic cooperative partner in the new era, China will, as always, respect the development path independently chosen by the Russian people and support Russia's efforts to achieve long-term national stability and promote social and economic development," said Zhao.

"China is willing to continue to work with Russia to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen all-round strategic collaboration and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, so as to better benefit the two peoples," Zhao noted.

The amendments had been passed weeks ago by Russia's parliament and copies of the new constitution were already on sale in bookshops, but Putin had said that voter approval was essential to give them legitimacy.

The reforms include conservative and populist measures - like guaranteed minimum pensions and an effective ban on gay marriage - but crucially for Putin also reset presidential limits allowing him to run twice again after his current six-year term expires in 2024.

Turnout as of 2000 GMT was about 65 percent, the election commission said.



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