MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments, which would allow him to run again for president, on April 22, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, despite the spread of the coronavirus.
The amendments, if passed, would allow Putin to run again despite the current constitutional ban. There had been speculation the vote would be postponed due to the coronavirus.
“And yet, bearing in mind the difficult epidemiological situation in the world… which is not as acute as in other countries, but nevertheless affects our country, we will hold this vote only if this situation allows such event to be carried out,” Putin told Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Election Commission, at a meeting.
As of now, Putin is required by the constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential and fourth presidential term ends. The proposed constitutional changes would open the door for him to remain in power until 2036.
Russia has reported 114 cases of coronavirus, but no deaths, and has introduced a raft of economic and social measures to limit its spread.
“You and I see that in those countries where the situation is much more complicated than ours, nevertheless political events of this kind are not abandoned,” Putin told Pamfilova.
Russia will postpone the vote if the situation requires, he added.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; editing by Chris Reese and Nick Macfie)