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Putin may deliver address to Russians ahead of constitutional vote's main day

The main day of the nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian constitution is Wednesday, July 1

MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin may make an address to the country’s citizens in the run-up to the final day of voting on amendments to the Russian constitution.

"Indeed, the president used to address Russians in the run-up to important voting, that’s why we do not rule out that such an address might also precede the [constitutional amendments] voting day," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The main day of the nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian constitution is Wednesday, July 1.

The Kremlin spokesman said the rule of the "day of silence" is not applicable in this case, because this vote is not of competitive nature.

Amendments of 2020

In his message to the Federal Assembly in January 2020, Putin suggested introducing a number of amendments to the fundamental law that would better meet the modern realities and consolidate the achieved results. After a special group discussed the proposed amendments, the State Duma adopted the presidential bill in the final reading on March 11. Later in the day, the bill was approved by the Federation Council and supported by the legislative assemblies of all of Russia’s territories. The Federation Council considered the results on March 14 and sent its resolution to the president.

Originally Putin signed a decree to hold the national popular vote on the amendments on April 22. However, Putin addressed the nation on television on March 25 to say that the voting had to be postponed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The amendments will take effect only if they are approved in a plebiscite.

The amendments seal a series of social guarantees on the constitutional level, broaden the parliament’s powers, prohibit high-ranking officials from holding residency status overseas, guarantee the supremacy of the Constitution over international treaties throughout Russia’s legal space. The amendments to the Constitution stipulate that the Russian head of state can only serve two terms, however, one of them proposes that the current president can be re-elected if the new version of the Constitution comes into force.

Summing up the results of a working session to set a new date for the vote, Putin said the Constitution forms the basis of our country’s life and will determine the main legal guarantees, the main judicial guarantees in the sphere of social relations, in the sphere of labor relations, as well as principles of cooperation with foreign partners. "I expect that Russian citizens will take a very active part in determining the parameters of the main law in the vote on constitutional amendments," the Russian leader said.

Putin also mentioned the issue in his televised address to the nation on June 23. He said the amendments would come into force only if citizens support them. "It is the will of the people that is principally important to ensure the reliable conditions for the country’s confident, dynamic and long-term development for years and decades to come," the Russian leader said. He added that the new Constitutional provisions, if they are adopted, will set much higher requirements for efficiency and substance of Russia’s entire social and economic policy and for solving the tasks of raising the quality of life and the well-being of people.

Putin’s televised addresses

The Russian president’s televised address to the nation - except for speeches made on the occasion of the New Year and other holidays - has always been a relatively rare format. However, this year sets new records in that regard, mostly as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, Putin has delivered four televised speeches to the nation (the latest of them on June 23), and also addressed the public several times during his video conferences with officials, governors and experts.

In total, Putin used the format of the televised address 16 times since 2000 (New Year congratulations, TV broadcasts of speeches and press conferences and question-and-answer sessions not included). In five cases, Putin addressed Russians ahead of nationwide voting (presidential or parliamentary polls), encouraging the citizens to cast their ballots.

About the vote

The nationwide voting on constitutional amendments started in Russia on June 25. The official voting day under the presidential decree is July 1, but due to the coronavirus situation the voting period has been extended for a week, from June 25 through July 1. Vote counting will begin in regions after 20:00 local time on July 1, when polling stations close. Along with the extended voting period (from June 25 to July 1), people can cast their votes outside polling stations at specially organized voting areas, including outdoors, or use contactless voting at home or the Mobile Voter application. Additionally, residents of Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod region can vote online.