JRL NEWSWATCH: “Parade’s end; A phoney referendum shows Putin’s legitimacy is fading” – The Economist

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“A proposal to extend his rule passes, buried in a huge package of feel-good measures.”

“… [Following voter-luring with offers of prizes and pressures from employers, some of the week-long voting utilized cardboard boxes and other voting was online, creating opportunities to rig the vote.] … [N]ot a proper referendum[,] [i]t had no precedent or legal basis. … did not require a minimum threshold, was not independently monitored and did not follow any clear rules. The changes had already been passed by Russia’s servile parliament, approved by its constitutional court and signed into law by the president. … 206 proposals … were designed to confuse. Voters were asked to approve a long list of crowd-pleasing ideas: inflation-proof pensions, protected status for the Russian language … the banning of gay marriage. … [and, for example,] proclamations of faith in God and ancestors. Voters were not allowed to pick and choose which elements to support: it was either yes or no to [everything]…. Buried in the middle … [t]he number of terms … Putin has served as president is to be set back to zero. [with] [m]ore power … concentrated in his hands. He will be able to fire judges of the supreme and constitutional courts. … [Only just] less brazen than rolling tanks into Red Square and declaring a coup …. [the procedure] flagrantly violates the [1993] post-Soviet constitution …. “

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