Russia is scheduled to vote July 1 on measures to reform their current constitution, which in turn would enable President Vladimir Putin to serve two more terms after his current term ends in 2024. This could result in Putin’s rule until 2036. Due to the coronavirus, the vote was rescheduled from the original April 22 voting date. The proposed amendments have already been approved by the Constitutional Court of Russia and their parliament.
Some people are criticizing Putin for his willingness to put the health of his country at risk by allowing the vote to occur during the coronavirus pandemic, with opposition leader Lyubov Sobol tweeting, “Let everyone get infected, just so long as the grandad in the Kremlin is satisfied?” Many are also warning citizens to reject the proposed changes or refrain from voting altogether after saying the vote is rigged by the Russian government. Critics of the amendments note that in nations with “entrenched power interests such as Russia,” such measures are “often used as a means of further consolidating power behind the elite few,” which includes Putin himself. Radio Liberty, which is US-funded, said the move would cause Russia to become an “authoritarian system, where the president has unlimited power.”
One opinion poll showed that support for the constitutional reform was at 47% despite Putin’s personal approval rating simultaneously dropping to an all-time low. The head of Rospotrebnadzor, which is Russia’s federal agency responsible for consumer rights protection and human well being, said the vote wouldn’t endanger people’s health due to its seven day period of voting. Supporters of the measure said it would “strengthen the sovereignty and independence of Russia, as well as contribute to the improvement of the country’s political system.” The Globe Post wrote that many Russians would likely support Putin in future elections due to the lack of viable candidates and fear of revolution.