Russia’s nationwide vote on constitutional amendments has become a target for a “foreign attack” carried out through mass media sources, social networks and non-profit organizations controlled by the West, Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty and Prevention of Interference in Russia’s Internal Affairs Andrei Klimov told reporters Thursday.
“The Federation Council commission officially announces that the process of the Russia-wide vote on amending the text of the constitution has become one of the targets for a foreign attack. Instead of a civilized and democratic procedure when each voter gets the right to express their own attitude through direct voting, various illegal campaigns are being forced on us. To discredit both the amendments themselves and the procedure of the Russia-wide vote, mass media outlets and social networks controlled by the West, various non-profit organizations and activists, many of whom constantly cooperate with different overseas organizations, are used,” he said.
According to the commission’s statement delivered by its chairperson, Western countries and their allies headed by Washington have been deliberately advancing a policy of illegitimate interference in the sovereign constitutional process since mid-January.
Russian citizens are asked to cast their ballots in the nationwide vote on constitutional amendments, as the vote began today, June 25. Even though the official vote day is set for July 1 by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order, citizens can take part in it throughout the week due to coronavirus precautions meant to eliminate the risk of transmission.
The vote was initially supposed to take place on April 22 but eventually had to be postponed amid the worsening coronavirus crisis. On June 1, Putin gave it a go-ahead at a senior meeting, setting the new date for July 1.
The turnout at the online vote on the amendments to Russia’s Constitution amounted to 49.51% at 06.30 Moscow time on Friday, Deputy Chairman of Moscow’s Civic Chamber Alexei Venediktov wrote on his Telegram channel.
“The turnout at the online vote was 49.51% at 06:30. About 2,000 people voted last night (from 00:00 to 06:00),” he wrote.
The online vote began on Thursday at 10:00 Moscow time. Previously registered voters from the Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod Region can take part in the vote.
According to previous reports, about 1 mln people had registered to vote in Moscow and nearly 140,000 had done the same in the Nizhny Novgorod Region. The online vote began on June 25 and will end on June 30.
The vote on constitutional amendments
On March 11, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) approved the final reading of the constitutional amendments bill proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the same day, it was approved by the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) and Russia’s regional parliaments.
A public vote is being held on the proposed constitutional amendments. If over 50% of the Russian public approve of the changes, the bill will enter into force.
The vote was initially set to take place on April 22, however, Putin chose to postpone it due to the situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Russia. During a working session earlier, Putin approved July 1, 2020, as the new date for the vote. The vote will be held over a seven-day period ending on July 1 due to epidemiological concerns.
The document proposes to expand the powers of the Russian parliament and the Russian Constitutional Court, a fixed number of presidential terms, as well as the prevalence of the Russian Constitution over international agreements.
The document also expands the government’s obligations in the social sphere.
The amendments to the Constitution stipulate that the Russian head of state can only serve two terms, however, one of the amendments proposes that the current president can be re-elected if the new version of the Constitution comes into force.