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Alexey Navalny


The majority of Russian voters backed constitutional reforms that could keep President Vladimir Putin in power until 2036, election officials say.

According to electoral commission, with all the ballots counted, 77.9% voted for the reform package and 21.3% against.

The reforms will reset Vladimir Putin’s term limits to zero in 2024, allowing him to serve two more six-year terms.

Opposition figures denounced the vote, saying Vladimir Putin was aiming to be “president for life”, a claim the Russian president denies.

Vladimir Putin is already the longest-serving leader in modern Russian history since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

There was no independent scrutiny of the seven-day vote, and copies of the new constitution appeared in bookshops during the week.

By spreading out the vote, because of the coronavirus infection risk, the authorities made any monitoring of it more difficult.

Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny described the results as a “big lie” which did not reflect real public opinion in the country.

Golos, an independent Russian election monitoring group, has castigated the vote, alleging there were many violations of democracy.

Its criticisms include: opponents were barred from campaigning in the media; remote electronic voting was organized on an illegal basis; election monitors were appointed by the Civic Chamber – a government body.

Golos describes it as “just a PR exercise from the very start” and says “there was no legal need for it”. The vote “will go down in history as an attack on the sovereignty of the people”.

The reforms include a ban on same-sex marriage – by defining marriage as between a man and a woman – and introducing a reference to Russia’s ancestral “faith in God”.

Image source Wikimedia

Alexei Navalny Sentenced to 30 Days Administrative Arrest
Alexei Navalny Found Guilty of Embezzlement

According to election officials, turnout was 65%. The highest levels of support – above 90% – were in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, in Chechnya in the North Caucasus, and Tuva, in Siberia.

Vladimir Putin, aged 67, has not said he will run again for the presidency when his latest term runs out in 2024 – but has said it is vital he has the option to do so.

He has been in power in Russia, either as president or prime minister, for 20 years.

Vladimir Putin and his supporters say the reforms – more than 200 changes – are needed to ensure national stability.

In New York, 816 voted at the Russian consulate and 505 rejected the reforms, while 310 voted for. The other voting district where a majority were against was Nenets, in Russia’s remote Arctic.

Preliminary results were released hours before the last polling stations closed at 18:00 GMT in the western enclave of Kaliningrad, in the vast country spanning 11 time zones.

Before the vote had ended, the internal affairs ministry said there had been no violations that could affect the result, Interfax reported. However, Golos said it had received some 2,100 reports of possible violations.

Several hundred opponents of the constitutional changes staged protests in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The final results show 65% voted yes to the reforms in Moscow, and 77.6% in St Petersburg.

Both Russia’s houses of parliament have already adopted the changes, but President Putin ordered a public vote in a bid to legitimize the reforms. The vote was delayed from April due to the coronavirus outbreak.


A photo of twin toilets in a cubicle at a Sochi Olympics venue has caused a Twitter storm in Russia.

The picture from the Biathlon Centre tweeted by BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg in Moscow was picked up by opposition leader Alexey Navalny among others.

Alexey Navalny queried how the budget for the games, said to be $50bn (1,700 billion roubles), had been spent.

The photo caused disbelief and much hilarity, with some linking it to the recent debate over gay rights.

Twin toilets in a cubicle at Sochi Olympics venue

Twin toilets in a cubicle at Sochi Olympics venue

Steve Rosenberg tweeted: “Seeing double in the Gentlemen’s Loo at the Olympic Biathlon Centre.”

Retweeting the photo, Alexey Navalny commented: “This is a men’s toilet in a Sochi Olympics media centre for 1.5bn roubles [$45 million].”

Others joked about Russia’s controversial law on “gay propaganda”, which led to calls from international campaigners to boycott February’s games.

The Biathlon Centre was completed nearly two years ago, with investment from the Russian state gas company Gazprom.

Alexei Navalny’s jail sentence for embezzlement has been suspended by a Russian court, allowing him to go free.

However, Alexei Navalny’s conviction is likely to prevent him running in the next presidential election.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to five years in July but released pending the appeal.

He has always denied the charges, which relate to his time as an adviser to the governor of the Kirov region.

His conviction bars him from running for elected office. Navalny has said in the past he would like to stand for president.

But it appears Alexei Navalny’s five-year sentence would rule him out of running for the next presidential election, due to take place in spring 2018.

Alexei Navalny's jail sentence for embezzlement has been suspended by a Russian court

Alexei Navalny’s jail sentence for embezzlement has been suspended by a Russian court

Alexei Navalny vowed to continue in politics, accusing the authorities of prosecuting him for political reasons, and said he would appeal against the sentence.

While on bail, he stood for mayor of Moscow, coming second and nearly managing to force the Kremlin’s candidate into a run-off.

In July, Alexei Navalny was found guilty of heading a group that embezzled timber worth 16 million roubles ($500,000) from the Kirovles state timber company while working as an adviser to Kirov’s governor, Nikita Belykh.

Speaking after the appeal verdict, he said: “It’s clear for me that the authorities are trying by all means to hound me out of politics, coming up with some restrictions and fabricated cases.

“One thing is for sure, they will not succeed in pushing me and my allies out of political life.”

Alexei Navalny could be seen using a mobile phone bearing a sticker which mocked Russia’s current President, Vladimir Putin, as a thief.

The veteran anti-corruption campaigner hugged his wife, Yulia, who has travelled from Moscow to Kirov with him for his court appearances.

Co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov, who was jailed for four years, also had his sentence suspended on Wednesday.

Alexei Navalny took 27% of the mayoral vote in Moscow against the Kremlin-backed incumbent, Sergei Sobyanin, who officially scraped through on the first round with 51% – a result the opposition leader disputes.

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