Russians back constitutional changes that allow Putin to be President till 2036

Several opposers of the changes sat out voting for the referendum

Putin-Russia-Reuters File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin chairing a meeting, dedicated to the country's automobile industry, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia April 24, 2020 | Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

Nearly 78 per cent of Russian voters have backed constitutional reforms that could keep President Vladimir Putin in power until 2036, according to election officials. Putin was slated to be in power till 2024. 

Opposition figures denounced the vote, saying he was aiming to be “president for life”, a claim Mr Putin denies, a BBC report reads.

The constitutional changes were already approved by the true Supreme Court of Russia and had the support of local lawmakers. The vote was the final step to incorporating changes. Many local governments have offered appliance raffles to encourage people to go vote. A lot of opposers have however said to sit out the voting. 

The voting that took over a period of a week, took place online and is therefore difficult to monitor, said, critics. Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny described the results as a “big lie” which did not reflect real public opinion in the country.

Putin has stayed in power in Russia for a long time—20 years either as prime minister or President. The reforms include a ban on same-sex marriage—by defining marriage as between a man and a woman—and introducing a reference to Russia's ancestral “faith in God”. It also boosts minimum wage and pensions and exhortations to preserve Russian language and history.