MOSCOW, June 2./TASS/. Public observers will be monitoring all forms of the upcoming nationwide vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Ella Pamfilova told a session of the commission looking into a new voting procedure.
"Observers must monitor all forms of the ballot," Pamfilova said, explaining that the presence of observers will be mandatory also for early voting and voting at home. She pledged that all sanitary-epidemiological measures would be observed during the monitoring activities. "We vow to furnish facemasks and gloves to those [observers] who have no possibility to buy them," the CEC chief said. She once again invited all those skeptical about the voting procedure to work as observers. Under the law, the public monitoring of amendments to the Russian Constitution will be carried out through the system of civic chambers.
250 polling stations outside Russia
Some 250 polling stations will be organized outside Russia to vote on constitutional amendments on July 1, Nikolai Levichev, a member of the Russian Central Election Commission, said on Tuesday.
"As of today, according to preliminary data from the Russian Foreign Ministry, as many as 250 polling stations will be organized outside Russia," he told a commission’s meeting, adding that the data is not final as the number of polling stations will depend on the epidemiological situation in each particular country.
Voting on constitutional amendments
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. On March 14, the Federation Council adopted a resolution and referred it to the president.
The document particularly expands the powers of the State Duma and the Federation Council (upper house), prohibits high-ranking officials from holding residency status overseas, limits the number of presidential terms and guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution over international treaties throughout Russia’s legal space. In addition, it stipulates strengthening the social obligations of the state and a nationwide vote on the amendments. 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.
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 on Monday, Putin approved July 1, 2020 as the new date for the vote.