İrem UZUN -TDO- Russia will hold a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms on July 1 that could extend the rule of President Vladimir Putin until 2036. The vote was postponed from April 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Just over a week ago, Putin approved changes to Russia’s electoral law, allowing the public to vote electronically or by mail in future polls. He said that the country will have 30 days before the vote to take additional efforts to control contagion and make the ballot fully safe.

The announcement on Monday comes days after officials said the health crisis had passed its peak - though the country is still reporting thousands of new infections every day. "As the situation with the pandemic improves, we of course are returning to normal life, including the need to think about further work on amendments to the constitution," Putin said in a video call with electoral and health officials. He added “I really hope the country’s citizens will take part actively in the vote on the amendments to the constitution”.

Putin announced the series of surprise constitutional reforms earlier this year. In March, the parliament endorsed a proposal on constitutional amendments to reset the president’s term count, allowing him to run for two more six-year terms if he chooses. Putin's current term ends in 2024, but critics have dismissed the vote as a constitutional coup, which they fear will be rigged, and urged voters to stay away or to reject the proposed changes.

He has served as President since 2012, having previously held the position from 1999 to 2008.  Putin was also prime minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.

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