Russians Back President Vladimir Putin Ploy To Rule Till 2036
Russians have overwhelmingly voted to effect a constitutional change which could extend President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power till 2023.
The vote would allow Putin who has been in power since 1999 to contest again for two more six-year terms after his current tenure ends in 2024
Critics in Russia have however argued that the vote, which saw 78% backing the President’s extension, was heavily rigged.
In the week-long balloting that concluded on Wednesday, 77.9% voted for the changes, and 21.3% voted against, with 100% of the precincts counted by Thursday morning, Russia’s Central Election Commission said. The turnout exceeded 64%, according to officials.
The reported numbers reflect the highest level of voter support for Putin in 10 years. In the 2018 presidential election, 76.7% of voters supported his candidacy, while in the 2012 election only 63.6% did.
But Kremlin critics say the numbers alone show they are false, with an unrealistic approval rating for the Russian leader amid wide frustration in the country over declining living standards.
“A record in falsifying votes has been set in Russia,” opposition politician Alexei Navalny said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “The announced result has nothing whatsoever to do with the people’s opinion.” Putin’s approval rating was at 59% in May, according to the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster. That was the lowest in two decades.
Since 1999, Putin has only been interrupted between 2008 and 2012 when Dmitry Medvedev was the Russian president. With the new constitutional change, Putin could rule for 16 more years after 2024 when he will be 84.