Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Russians cast early votes in ballot to extend Putin’s rule

MOSCOW: Russians go to the polls Thursday to cast early votes in a nationwide ballot on constitutional reforms that could see President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036.

Election officials say they are opening polls ahead of the official July 1 vote to avoid overcrowding that could spread coronavirus infections.

Masks and disinfectant gels are being made available to 110 million voters across 10 time zones, from the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Pacific Ocean.

The Kremlin reluctantly postponed the vote scheduled for April 22 as COVID-19 infections increased and officials imposed restrictions to slow the pandemic.

Putin introduced the reforms to the 1993 constitution in January this year, and they were hastily adopted by both houses of parliament and regional lawmakers.

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