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Iran Press TV

Putin granted right to extend rule until 2036 in landslide vote

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 02 July 2020 1:08 AM

Russians opened the door to Vladimir Putin staying in power until 2036 by voting overwhelmingly for constitutional changes that will allow him to run again for president twice.

Official results, after over 90% of ballots had been counted, showed that Putin who has ruled Russia for more than two decades as president or prime minister had easily won the right to run for two more terms. That means he could remain president for 16 more years.

The Central Election Commission said almost 78% of votes counted across the country had supported changing the constitution. Just over 21% had voted against, it said.

Ella Pamfilova, head of the commission, said the vote had been transparent and that officials had done everything to ensure its integrity.

Turnout was 65%, election officials said.

The Russian president and his supporters say the reforms - in total, more than 200 changes - are needed to ensure national stability.

Both Russia's houses of parliament have already adopted the changes, but President Putin ordered a public vote in a bid to legitimize the reforms. It was delayed from April due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The key reform that extends Putin's rule is the one that says a person can only hold the presidency for two terms (replacing "two consecutive terms").

However, in the case of a person already holding the presidency, previous terms will not count - the so-called "zeroing" of Vladimir Putin's terms so far.

Putin, 67, already the longest-serving leader in modern Russian history since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has said he has yet to decide on his future.

Critics say they are sure he will run again, but some analysts say he may want to keep his options open to avoid becoming a lame duck.

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

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