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Kremlin says public vote on constitutional amendments won’t be formality

The order and schedule of this vote are being drafted, according to the presidential press secretary
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov  Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

MOSCOW, January 24. /TASS/. Russian citizens’ voting for or against the constitutional amendments proposed by President Vladimir Putin will be the determining factor, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

Responding to a question about whether the nationwide vote can take place before or after the president signs a relevant bill on the amendments, he said, "The order and schedule of this vote will be specified — they are actually being drafted now."

"We primarily don’t view this vote as just a simple formality," Peskov added. "If people believe that it is not expedient [to introduce amendments to the constitution] then that’s what it is. It is not a formality, it is indeed a vote for or against," he stressed.

Peskov failed to respond to a question whether the Kremlin is concerned by the fact that not all Russian regions had enough time to voice their opinions on the constitutional amendments before the first reading of the bill. "This is not a question to the Kremlin, in this case the State Duma [lower house — TASS] acts as the driving force," he stressed. "Therefore, you should ask them that question."

On January 23, the Russian lower house unanimously passed the constitutional amendment bill introduced by Russian President Vladimir Putin in its first reading. Fifteen days were allocated to draft changes to the bill before it is read for the second time, which can take place on February 11, according to State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. The document particularly envisions granting broader powers to the parliament and Constitutional Court, bans officials from having foreign citizenship and permanent residency, limits the number of presidential terms in the office, prioritizes the constitution over international agreements and boosts social responsibilities of the state.