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Russians vote on reforms that could allow Putin to remain president until 2036

Tatiana Stanovaya, head of political consultancy R. Politik, said Putin’s decision to go ahead with the vote despite the spread of the coronavirus reflected his personal style.

“The faster, the better,” Stanovaya told CBS News of the president’s strategy, noting that while still high, Putin’s popularity rating has declined during the epidemic. “He likes to hold everything in a special operation mode.”

Possibly adding more urgency, officials have been warning of a possible second wave of coronavirus infections still looming on the horizon. Critics argue the voting itself could contribute to coronavirus outbreaks.

While the number of new COVID-19 cases recorded daily in Russia has been on the decline, the disease is still spreading. Russia remains the third-worst hit country, behind the U.S. and Brazil, with more than 650,000 cases confirmed.

Putin’s opponents had planned to stage demonstrations against the proposed constitutional reforms in April, but they were canceled due to the coronavirus lockdown and a ban on mass gatherings.

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