Russian vote extending Putin’s rule until 2036 nears end

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main political project of the year – a constitutional vote that would allow him to extend his rule until 2036 – wrapped up yesterday.

The nationwide balloting on the amendments that would reset the clock on Putin’s tenure and enable him to serve two more six-year terms entered its final day. For the first time in Russia, the polls were open for a week to help reduce crowds and to bolster turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic. Putin is all but guaranteed to get the result he wants following a massive campaign to get Russia’s voters to say “yes” to the changes.

Ironically, however, the plebiscite intended to consolidate his hold on power could end up eroding his position because of the unconventional methods used to boost participation and the dubious legal basis for the balloting.

A man wearing a face mask and gloves to protect against coronavirus casts his ballot at a polling station in Moscow, Russia. PHOTO: AP