Almost 78 percent of voters in Russia have approved amendments to the country’s constitution that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036, Russian election officials said Thursday after all the votes were counted.
In the week-long balloting that concluded on Wednesday, 77.9 percent voted for the changes and 21.3 percent voted against, with 100 percent of the precincts counted by Thursday morning, Russia’s Central Election Commission said.
The turnout exceeded 64 percent, according to officials.
The reported numbers reflect the highest level of voter support for Putin in ten years. In the 2018 presidential election, 76.7 percent of voters supported his candidacy, while in the 2012 election only 63.6 percent did.
But Kremlin critics say the numbers are false, with an unrealistic approval rating for the Russian leader.
“A record in falsifying votes has been set in Russia,” opposition politician Alexei Navalny said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
“The announced result has nothing whatsoever to do with the people’s opinion.”
Putin’s approval rating was at 59 percent in May, according to the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster. That was the lowest in two decades.
For the first time in Russia, polls were kept open for an entire week to bolster turnout and avoid crowds — a provision that Kremlin critics denounced as a tool to manipulate the outcome, as ballot boxes remained unattended at night.
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