Putin's opponents divided over Russian vote that could extend his rule

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jun 10, 2020, 09:15 PM(IST)

File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Kremlin says constitutional changes are needed to strengthen the role of parliament and improve social policy and public administration, and that polls show the changes have wide support. Critics say the reforms amount to a constitutional coup.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's opponents agree a nationwide vote next month that could extend his rule is a sham, but are split over whether to campaign for a "No" vote or call for a boycott, according to Reuters.

In the July 1 vote, Russians will vote to approve or reject constitutional reforms including a change that would allow Putin to serve two more six-year terms, if re-elected, instead of stepping down in 2024.

Putin's approval rating, though still high at 59%, has slipped to its lowest since 1999, the Levada pollster says, and the coronavirus pandemic poses one of the biggest challenges of his more than 20-year rule, according to Reuters. 

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Even so, Putin's opponents believe the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Some, such as politician Alexei Navalny and the liberal opposition Yabloko party, have urged supporters not to vote.

"Legitimising this 'fete for Putin' by increasing turnout is just helping the Kremlin," said Lyubov Sobol, a Navalny ally.

Others, such as the Communist party, which usually backs the Kremlin on big decisions, have urged supporters to vote against.

Also read: Explained: How Vladimir Putin could stay Russian President for two more terms

The Kremlin says constitutional changes are needed to strengthen the role of parliament and improve social policy and public administration, and that polls show the changes have wide support. Critics say the reforms amount to a constitutional coup.

"There's no opportunity to uncover falsifications. All that remains is a circus with blow-up tents," Navalny said.

Election officials deny such accusations, saying the vote will be free and fair.

(With inputs from Reuters) 

 

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