MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russians preparing to vote on constitutional amendments on July 1 could be forgiven for not knowing they could pave the way for President Vladimir Putin to rule for another 12 years once his current term expires.
Months of television, online and poster advertisements have listed proposed changes to pension rights, animal rights and others. But they have failed to highlight the fact that the amendments would allow Putin to run again for president, despite having served the constitutional maximum of two consecutive terms.
“There are lots of changes and it’s hardly possible to single out one,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked about the issue on Monday.
“They are important when taken together.”
An official website set up last week to provide information on the proposed amendments did not mention the impact on Putin until a journalist pointed out the omission.
“There are various technical filters. Maybe it just dropped off when the site was being populated,” Peskov said, adding that the information had now been added.
The raft of constitutional changes will, among other things, reset Putin’s presidential term tally to zero, allowing him to serve two more back-to-back six-year terms until 2036 if re-elected.
Critics have called the move a constitutional coup they say would allow Putin, 67, to unfairly extend his rule of more than two decades past the 2024 end of his existing term.
The Kremlin says a majority of Russians and the country’s main political forces back the changes. It has cast the vote as a wider legislative exercise that would enshrine key rights.