The vote on amendments to the Russian constitution began on Thursday in all the 14 administrative regions of Russia’s Far Eastern federal district, regional election commissions and administrative bodies said on Thursday, APA reports citing TASS.
In Yakutia, polling stations started their work at 10:00 local time (04:00 Mocow time). The region has 816 polling stations in total, including 25 temporary ones, set up at remote mining facilities, military garrisons and meteorological stations.
The vote in Buryatia began at 03:00 Moscow time (8:00 local time), while the Trans-Baikal Region and the Amur region launched the process an hour earlier, at 2:00 Moscow time.
At 01:00 Moscow time, the vote began in the Primorye and Khabarovsk regions and the Jewish autonomous region.
The Magadan region opened its polling stations at midnight Moscow time.
Russia’s easternmost regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka were the first to begin the vote, at 23:00 Moscow time on Wednesday.
About the constitutional amendments vote
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.
The text of the bill was published on the official legal information portal. After the Constitutional Court’s ruling, which states that the bill does not violate the Constitution, a public vote will be held. 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.