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First polling stations open in Russia’s easternmost regions

The vote will be held over a seven-day period ending on July 1 due to epidemiological concerns

MOSCOW, June 25. /TASS/. Vote on amendments to the Russian constitution began on Thursday in Russia’s easternmost regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka, spokespersons for regional election commissions told TASS on Thursday.

"A total of 183 polling stations will open in Kamchatka today, [including] 66 in the region’s capital. Some of them are already operating, starting from 08:00 local time (23:00 Wednesday Moscow time). On June 10-25, about 4,300 people, including sailors, servicemen, fishing and mining industry workers and residents of the peninsula’s remote regions, cast their ballots in an early vote," an official with the Kamchatka election commission said.

A total of 55 polling stations are to open in Chukotka on Thursday, some of them are already operating. Some 1,300 people cast their ballots within the two weeks since the start of the early vote.

About the constitutional amendments vote

On March 11, the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) approved the final reading of the constitutional amendments bill proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the same day, it was approved by the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) and Russia’s regional parliaments.

The text of the bill was published on the official legal information portal. After the Constitutional Court’s ruling, which states that the bill does not violate the Constitution, a public vote will be held. If over 50% of the Russian public approve of the changes, the bill will enter into force.

The vote was initially set to take place on April 22, however, Putin chose to postpone it due to the situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Russia. During a working session earlier, Putin approved July 1, 2020 as the new date for the vote. The vote will be held over a seven-day period ending on July 1 due to epidemiological concerns.

The document proposes to expand the powers of the Russian parliament and the Russian Constitutional Court, a fixed number of presidential terms, as well as the prevalence of the Russian Constitution over international agreements. The document also expands the government’s obligations in the social sphere. The amendments to the Constitution stipulate that the Russian head of state can only serve two terms, however, one of the amendments proposes that the current president can be re-elected if the new version of the Constitution comes into force.