National vote on proposed amendments to the constitution postponed

# 17:35
25 March 2020

Russia will delay its national vote on proposed amendments to the constitution amid the COVID-19 outbreak, President Vladimir Putin has announced, APA's Moscow correspondent reports.

In a speech to the nation on Wednesday, the Russian president outlined a series of additional measures on Russia's COVID-19 response, including measures to help stabilize the economic situation, such as the prolonging of all social benefits on an automatic basis.

Putin asked the cabinet to give small businesses a six month tax holiday, apart from sale tax, and asked the central bank to take other measures to prevent layoffs and bankruptcies, including a six month holiday on bank credit payments.

Putin urged employers to help maintain stability on the labour market, and not to allow for rampant unemployment, promising that the government would provide assistance to make this possible. "Our most important task - I am appealing to all employers now - is to ensure stability in the labour market, to prevent a surge in unemployment," he said.

Addressing the Russian people, Putin urged all citizens not to give in to the "Russian cross-your-finger mentality" on the coronavirus. "Please do not give in to the idea that 'ah this will not affect me'. It can affect anyone. And then what's happening today in many Western countries - both in Europe and across the sea, may become our near future," he warned.

Putin asked Russians to pay "utmost attention" to the recommendations of doctors and authorities in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, and emphasized that it was particularly important for the elderly and those who suffer from chronic diseases to follow the advice of the medical community and the government.