Constitutional amendments vote in Russian Federation

Critics are sure President Vladimir Putin will run again but some analysts say he may want to keep his options open

The 51-year-old cosmonaut, who came aboard the ISS in April, cast his ballot as part of a weeklong vote to approve constitutional reforms that could extend President Vladimir Putin's rule, Roscosmos said.

The vote seeks to introduce amendments to Russia's 1993 constitution, which will include protecting the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, setting children as a priority of Russia's domestic policy and an obligation to support and protect culture as the unique heritage of Russia's multi-ethnic nation. Others expressed hope that the changes would allow separatist republics to become part of Russian Federation.

"I will be absolutely frank now: If this does not happen [the adoption of changes], in two years, I know this from my own experience, instead of normal rhythmic work at many levels of the government, eyes will start searching for possible successors".

At 60%, according to the Levada pollster, his approval rating remains high but well down on its peak of almost 90%.

That could see the former KGB officer, now 67, stay in office until 2036, though Putin has said he has yet to take a final decision on what he wants to do.

Kremlin critics have denounced the vote as a ploy that would allow Putin to become "president for life". "There's no such world class leader and we should be proud of that".

Russian election monitors point out that bringing residents of eastern Ukraine into Russia to vote could make it easier to rig the vote.

With Russia reporting thousands of new Covid-19 cases each day, opponents have been unable to stage protests but have mocked the vote online, sharing photographs of polling stations in apartment stairwells, courtyards and the boot of a auto.

"The vote lasts seven days, and a person, if they so wish, can vote several times at several polling stations, and there is no way to control it", Yegorov said. He screamed out in pain after his arm was pinned behind his back.

The observers pay attention that despite prohibition for the campaigning, the Central Election Commission (CEC) issued pick-up materials, calling on people to vote "for" the amendments, rather than "on" them, highlighting "for" in red against the blue background of the rest of leaflets.



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