Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech in Sevastopol, in Russia-annexed Crimea, March 18, 2020.
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments that would open the door to extending his power might face delays because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected Russia little but ravaged other parts of the globe.
“I really am counting on people to show up on April 22 and support the changes,” Putin said in a Wednesday speech that was meant to mark the sixth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula but touched on the vote set for next month.
“Although, if there will be problems connected to this well-known coronavirus, then the law allows us to calmly … move it to a later period,” he said. “If the epidemiological situation allows, we’ll hold the national vote. If not, then we’ll postpone a bit.”
At the heart of the issue: a controversial referendum over reforms that, among other measures, would allow the Russian leader to retain his post and compete in future presidential elections when his current term ends in 2024.
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