Putin: Nationwide Vote on Russian Constitutional Changes to Be Held on July 1

Russians will vote on a package of amendments to the constitution on July 1, President Vladimir Putin has announced. If passed, the new constitution would allow Putin to potentially stay in power until 2036, Russia Today informs.

On Monday, Putin agreed that the proposed date looks “quite suitable for holding an all-Russian vote on constitutional amendments,” and called the scheduling “impeccable” from the legal point of view.

Initially planned for April 22, Putin was forced to postpone the vote due to an ever-worsening epidemiological situation. A package of constitutional amendments was passed by Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, in March. They swiftly gained approval from the legislative bodies of each Russian region and the country’s Constitutional Court. The bill passed 383-0, with 44 abstentions – mainly members of the opposition Communist Party.

The amendments include banning important officials from having foreign citizenships and restricting all future presidents’ time in office to a total of two terms. The new constitution would also transfer more powers to the country’s two houses of parliament – the State Duma and the Federation Council. For example, the appointment of a prime minister and other cabinet members proposed by the president would be subject to the approval of the State Duma.

Controversially, the new constitution would also ‘nullify’ the terms already served by President Putin, allowing him to run again for a fifth term in 2024, RT adds.

Outside of structural political change, the newly amended constitution would include a controversial article defining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. In March, the Constitutional Court determined that this amendment is legal, but does not remove the state’s obligation to respect differences, including sexual orientation.

The Court also decided that the much-debated inclusion of God in the constitution is “of a retrospective nature” and “does not declare religious belief binding.” Officially, Russia is a secular state.

According to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, July 1 will be a day off work for all Russians, enabling everyone to vote.

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