Critics question validity of Russia vote allowing Putin to remain in power until 2036

Vladimir Putin.
(Image credit: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian voters on Wednesday approved constitutional amendments that will allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power until 2036, which would make him the Kremlin's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The 67-year-old Putin has governed the country since 1999, alternating between the position of prime minister and the presidency.

Putin's current term is up in 2024, but it became clear he wasn't going when he proposed the constitutional changes in January. Russia's parliament would have been able to cement the law allowing him to run — and almost certainly win — two more times, but Putin sought to show his broad public support with a vote that was initially delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic before it eventually began last week.

He seemed to prove his point after election officials declared the vote over with just 15 percent of precincts counted because 71 percent of the participants responded in favor of the amendments. But the Kremlin's critics, perhaps unsurprisingly, think there's something fishy about the results — journalists and activists said they were able to vote online and in person, while neighboring regions in Siberia reported wildly different turnout numbers. "These differences can be explained only by forcing people to vote in certain areas or by rigging," the Golos monitoring group said.

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Activists even conducted their own exit polls, which told quite a different story and suggested a majority of voters actually voted against the proposal. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.