(Photo Credits: Kremlin.ru / CC BY 3.0)

Russian President Vladimir Putin could stay in power until 2036. 

This is the result of the recently concluded 2020 Russian constitutional referendum where a total of 77.92% voted in favor of the constitutional changes as opposed to the 21.26% who were against the amendments. 

Russia’s Central Election Commission said the turnout was 65% of eligible voters.

Putin—who has been in power since 1999, either serving as Russia’s Prime Minister or President—was supposed to step down as president after his term ends in 2024. The referendum on constitutional changes however, means that Putin can rule beyond 2024 as he is now allowed to run for up to two more terms. 

Putin, who is currently 67 years old, could very well be in power until he is 83.

According to NPR, Russia’s constitutional referendum included “200 other amendments, including guaranteed minimum pensions, a ban on same-sex marriage and an affirmation of the Russian people’s belief in God.”

The amendment now defines marriage as “a relationship between one man and one woman.” The outcome of the referendum, however, reflects the result of a 2019 poll that says only 7% of Russians support marriage equality as opposed to the majority, which is 87%, who are against.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Tumasov—a Russian LGBT activist living in exile—said during an interview with France 24 that “LGBT networks encouraged people to turn out to vote no.” He also said he fears that “any actions to promote same-sex marriage could soon be deemed anti-constitutional.” Watch the interview in full below. 

On the other hand, Richard Mole, a Professor of Political Sociology at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, questions the amendment on the definition of marriage, saying, “There was no possibility of same-sex marriage being introduced in Russia and the traditional understanding of marriage was thus in no way ‘in danger’. So why introduce the amendment?”

Mole added, “Like the ‘gay propaganda’ ban, the constitutional definition of marriage as ‘the union of a man and a woman’ will increase discrimination against LGBT+ Russians.”

Take a look at the netizen’s reactions on the referendum:

Russia’s week-long referendum on constitutional amendments was held from 25 June to 1 July 2020. It was originally slated for April 22, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read the story in full here and here.

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