Putin puts off vote on constitutional amendments amid COVID-19 outbreak

The constitutional vote has to be postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during Wednesday’s address to the nation.

He urged Russians to follow all recommendations and stay home to the extent it is possible to do so. Moreover, Putin declared the next week to be an official holiday with pay.

According to the Russian leader, ensuring public safety and health was a top priority.

“I believe that the vote needs to be postponed to a later date. We will see how the situation unfolds in the regions and in the country on the whole, and will make a decision on a new date based on expert opinion,” state-run news agency TASS quotes him.

On March 25, Russia’s Health Ministry has reported 658 recored coronavirus cases in the country.

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In the course of the would-be national vote, the citizens of Russia are expected to define their position on on the amendments to the Russian Constitution initiated by Putin in January and adopted by lawmakers in March. One of the amendments is about the permissible number of terms, during which the same person may hold the post of the President of the Russian Federation.

On March 10, Vladimir Putin assented to the deputies’ proposal to ‘zero out’ a number of presidential terms he served on condition that the Constitutional Court and Russian citizens approve it. Russia’s parliament passed the amendment; over 380 MPs were in favour of it, 43 voted against, one person abstained.

On March 16, the Russian Constitutional Court concluded that the amendments to the Constitution, including those that reset Vladimir Putin’s previous presidential terms, are legitimate.

In 2018, it was the fourth time (not in a row) that Putin had assumed the presidential office. If the majority of Russians vote for the amendment, Vladimir Putin will apparently run for presidency in the year of 2024.

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