|[Published: Wednesday March 25 2020]
Putin, citing coronavirus, postpones vote on changes to extend his rule
MOSCOW, 25 March. - (ANA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday postponed a nationwide vote on constitutional changes that would allow him to extend his rule due to what he said was the worsening global situation with coronavirus.
The vote, on changes that include scrapping a constitutional ban on Putin running again for president in 2024, had been planned for April 22.
Already approved by parliament and Russia’s Constitutional Court, the changes would reset his presidential term tally to zero. That would give Putin, who has dominated Russia’s political landscape for two decades, the right to serve two more back-to-back six year terms.
“We see how severely the coronavirus epidemic is developing in the world, in many countries the number of cases is continuing to grow, the whole world economy is under threat,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation.
“The absolute priority for us is the health, life and safety of people. Therefore I believe that the vote should be postponed until a later date.”
If Putin, as critics expect, opts to run again for president in 2024, the new rules would allow the 67-year-old former KGB officer to stay in power until 2036.
Putin did not name a new date for the vote, saying only that he and others would listen to medical advice and evaluate the situation to decide when the time for a new vote was right.
Putin’s critics have likened the proposed changes to a constitutional coup that they say is illegal and would allow him to remain in power long after he should have stepped down. - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/25 March 2020 - - -