External Publications

April 08, 2020

Russia Policy Alert #4

How corona thwarts Putin's plan to change the constitution

This text is part of a series of EPDE Policy Alerts on election processes in the Russian Federation. It focuses on legal framework, performance of election management bodies and positions of main political actors. 

The year 2020 was set to bolster Putin’s leadership of Russia’s politics but the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the Kremlin’s script. In his January 15, 2020, address to the Federal Assembly, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin surprised many by announcing sweeping constitutional changes. Putin, who previously indicated he would keep the country’s founding law intact, set a process in motion that would enable him to remain at the top indefinitely. 

Putin’s amendments were put on fast track, but the virus spread faster. It reached Russia before the so-called all-Russian vote had happened. This was supposed to be the culmination of the process of constitutional changes. On March 25, 2020, Putin announced that, in the light of the virus, the all-Russian vote could not take place on April 22 and postponed it to a later date to be determined depending on the epidemic situation in the country. Now, Putin’s biggest project - to ensure his option to stay in power beyond 2024, when his last presidential term should come to an end - is hanging in the air. 

The full report is also available to download here.

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