JRL NEWSWATCH: “Still standing; How Vladimir Putin maintains his support” – Times Literary Supplement (UK)/ Stephen Kotkin

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

“… Putin forced through a plebiscite to zero out … constitutional limits on his rule. … [H]e can run again, in 2024, for two more six-year terms, until 2036, when he will turn eighty-four. …. Putin could have … move[d] Russia onto a stable path of institutional pluralism. Russia’s would-be democrats … Gorbachev and … Yeltsin, started out … popular […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s ‘Little Green Men’ In Voting Booths” – Kennan Institute/ Sergey Parkhomenko

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

… independent research and polls show that to make sure the Kremlin could trumpet the longed-for support of 50 percent of the Russian electorate, Putin and his cronies still needed large-scale ballot manipulations during the day and astronomical fraud during the vote count at night […]

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How Improved U.S.-Russian Relations Could Weaken Putin’s Case for Remaining in Kremlin Until 2036

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Paul Saunders – July 8, 2020) Paul Saunders is a senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy at the Center for the National Interest. Considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated preferences and Moscow’s reputation for “managing” Russia’s voting, it hardly seems surprising that the Central Election Commission (CEC) claimed an overwhelming level of public support for constitutional […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Here’s why statisticians are calling Putin’s constitutional plebiscite the most fraudulent vote in Russia’s recent history” – Meduza

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

“Researchers who study Russia’s electoral statistics believe … the recent nationwide plebiscite on constitutional amendments is the most dishonest vote the country has seen since the year 2000. … [F]rom a statistical point of view, … official results in many precincts can’t be attributed to fair voting processes. … According to official data from Russia’s Central Election Commission, a little […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerges in Russia’s referendum on constitutional changes” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“Evidence of massive ballot stuffing emerged in a mathematician[‘s] … statistical study of … the referendum on constitutional changes that would allow … Putin to remain in office until 2036. As bne IntelliNews reported before the vote …. Russian statistician Sergey Shpilkin … made a name for himself … highlighting vote rigging in past elections in Russia … studying … […]

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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 […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Putin gets Russians’ mandate to reset power – expert” – Interfax

Kremlin and River

MOSCOW. July 2 (Interfax) – The results of the nationwide vote on changes to the Fundamental Law reflect a high level of public trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin, the head of the Foundation for Civil Society Development with close links to the Kremlin, Konstantin Kostin, said. “Many experts are talking about total support by Russian citizens for the constitutional […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Theatrical Method in Putin’s Vote Madness” – New York Times/ Andrew Higgins

Kremlin and River

“The outcome in Russia’s constitutional ‘referendum’ is preordained, but an elaborate spectacle of public affirmation is vital to the leader’s legitimacy.’ “Russia’s seven-day national plebiscite … to keep … Putin in power until at least 2036, delivered the expected verdict …. Less clear … was why … Putin even needed voters to approve … constitutional amendments that, already ratified by […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin a Step Away From Goal as Constitutional Vote Nears End” – AP

Kremlin and River

“… Putin is just a step away from completing his main political project of the year – constitutional changes that would allow him to extend his rule until 2036. … For the first time in Russia, polls were open for a week to help reduce crowds and to bolster turnout amid the coronavirus pandemic. Putin is all but guaranteed to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Q&A: What Does the Russia Vote Mean for Putin?” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“The result of [the] vote isn’t in much doubt, but the outcome could mean far-reaching changes for Russia as he lays plans to prolong his reign.” “Russians are casting … ballots in a [referendum] vote … expected to pave the way for … Putin … to remain … until 2036. … [T]he parliament and … highest court have already approved […]

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Overall Turnout At 9.2 Percent On First Day Of Russia’s Weeklong Constitutional Vote

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

Russia’s Central Electoral Commision … says overall turnout was about 9 percent on the first day of a weeklong vote for constitutional amendments that could pave the way for an extension of … Putin’s rule by 12 years. … [J]ournalists and opposition figures already are complaining about irregularities […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Claims of vote rigging accompany launch of voting in Russia’s constitutional referendum” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Screenshot of Video at https://twitter.com/CurrentTimeTv/status/1171888101989539842 showing man punching another man in the stomach at Russian polling place while second man was looking down at mobile device

“Russian electoral statistician Sergey Shpilkin says there are already clear signs of ballot stuffing even before the voting in Russia’s referendum on changes to the constitution begins.” “Russia started early voting in its controversial referendum on changes to the constitution on June 25 that will reset the presidential term counter for … Putin … and allow him to remain in […]

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Russia’s Constitutional Amendments Keep Several Futures Open for Putin

Kremlin and River

“… If adopted, the main change will be to allow Putin to stay in power after the end of his second consecutive — and fourth total — mandate, possibly up to 2036, when he is going to be 84 years old. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Wants You to Think He’s Not Going Anywhere” – Moscow Times/ Anna Arutunyan

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

“The Russian president is leaving himself room for maneuver. It remains to be seen, however, how much longer Putin can afford to keep people guessing.” “There’s an acquired habit of reading between the lines of everything President Vladimir Putin writes or says. Given the subterfuge of Russian state power, it’s an understandable one. The Victory Day Parade, the plebiscite to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia cannot afford another 15 years at war with the west” – Financial Times/ Philip Stephens

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“Vladimir Putin should brush off the cold war cobwebs in pursuit of a hard-headed look at national interests.” “… Putin is proposing … the option of another 15 years in office. He could … continu[e] to shake his fist at the west. Alternatively, he could brush away the cobwebs of the cold war and begin to recognise the challenge to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vote to Extend Putin’s Rule Faces Little Protest in Russia” – AP

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“They’ve offered prizes ranging from gift certificates to cars and apartments. … put up billboards … enlisted celebrities to urge a ‘yes’ vote. … encouraged state-run businesses like hospitals and schools to pressure employees to register at the polls. Russian authorities seem to be pulling out all the stops to get people to vote on constitutional amendments that would enable […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Puts His Post-Covid Comeback to a Vote; Buffeted by things he can’t control, Russia’s president turns to a tried and true method for affirming his power” – Bloomberg/ Clara Ferreira Marques

Putin at Desk

“[Putin] has not had a good pandemic. [b]ut … is staging a comeback, with a touch of foreign-policy grandstanding, a dash of military theater and a plebiscite on constitutional reforms that could allow him to stay in power until 2036. The vote will confirm changes already approved by parliament in March[] and … didn’t have to happen now. Even so, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Starts Early Voting on Reform Extending Putin’s Rule” – AP

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

“Russia’s far eastern region of Kamchatka has kicked off early voting on the constitutional reform that would allow … Putin to stay in power until 2036, with election officials traveling to remote areas and bringing ballots to residents who don’t have access to polling stations. Early voting … has been officially allowed since June 10 – 20 days ahead of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Citing Virus, Some Russian Election Officials Shun Vote to Extend Putin Rule” – Reuters

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

“… [C]iting … coronavirus, … around 350 [Russian polling station officials] across the country say taking part [in a nationwide vote on reforms that could extend … Putin’s rule until 2036] is too dangerous … [with] authorities … reporting thousands of new infections each day despite a drop … in … Moscow. The officials have started a petition … to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Foes Divided Over Russian Vote That Could Extend His Rule” – Reuters

Kremlin and River

“… Putin’s opponents agree a nationwide vote next month that could extend his rule is a sham, but are split over … [supporting] a ‘No’ vote or … a boycott. … [On] July 1 … Russians … vote to approve or reject constitutional reforms including … allow[ing] Putin to serve two more six-year terms … instead of stepping down in […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Communists Campaign Against Reforms Giving Putin More Years in Power” – Moscow Times

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 5, 2020) Russia’s Communist Party has launched a campaign urging supporters to vote against a set of constitutional amendments that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power for the next decade and a half. Russians are set to vote on July 1 to approve Putin’s changes to Russia’s basic law that would, […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Sets Constitution Vote for July 1 as Covid-19 Crisis Wanes” – Bloomberg/ Jake Rudnitsky, Ilya Arkhipov

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

“… Putin rescheduled a referendum … open[ing] a path for him to remain in power until 2036[, delayed because of Covid-19]. … [O]riginally planned for April 22[, the referendum] … will be held July 1 …. [with] [v]oting … spread out over a week …. With Russia slowly emerging from [a] two[-]month[] … nationwide lockdown … the Kremlin is rushing […]

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Pandemic has Destroyed Putin’s ‘Sacred’ Standing in the Eyes of Russians, Tsipko Says

Putin at Desk

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 21, 2020) Before our eyes and in a remarkably short time, Aleksandr Tsipko says, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed the hitherto widely held belief among Russians that the fate of their country and the fate of Vladimir Putin were ineluctably intertwined and even one and the same thing. The senior Moscow […]

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Russia Demands Apology From Bloomberg Over Report About Putin’s Low Ratings

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

… The report on Bloomberg noted that only 27 percent of respondents in the poll, published on April 27, named Putin when asked to name a politician they they most trust. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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Kto-Kogo: Putin vs. COVID-19

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

“… the situation could evolve in a bleaker direction, eroding Putin’s authority and enticing elites to consider alternatives, such as blocking Putin’s bid for reelection in 2024. But, for the past twenty years, Putin has been a skillful and a lucky leader. That has kept him at the top of the system. This year will tell whether his skill or his luck – or both – have run out.”

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Censorship row threatens Russia’s top business newspaper; Journalists at Vedomosti in open revolt against new editor” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon

File Photo of Empty Chair and Desk with Computer, adapted from image at osha.gov

“A row over censorship has plunged Russia’s top business newspaper into a crisis that could either see it fall under the Kremlin’s control or torpedo a deal to sell it, leaving it on the verge of bankruptcy. Staff at Vedomosti are in open revolt against new acting editor Andrei Shmarov … they say he banned writing about taboo topics for […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The Coronavirus Could Imperil Putin’s Presidency” – Wall Street Journal/ Leon Aron

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

Russia entered the crisis with a stagnant economy, and its oil-price war with the Saudis isn’t helping. “… the pandemic could hardly have come at a worse time …. Russia entered the crisis in a weakened state. Its longest stagnation in modern history …. 12%[] were below the subsistence minimum …. Most of the impoverished were working. … Rosstat, reported […]

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Pandemic has Changed Russians, But Can It Change Russia?

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 17, Issue 54 –  Paul Goble – April 21, 2020) The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has changed Russians more fundamentally than any past revolution. In particular, the government’s response and the changes in day-to-day life for the average Russian has destroyed traditional widespread faith in society that Russia’s authorities are omnipotent while […]

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Referendum on Russian Constitutional Amendments Raises Ever More Questions

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 10, 2020) Because of the pandemic, the Kremlin has delayed its plans for a constitutional amendment referendum from April 22 to some as yet unspecified date in the future, a delay that has not calmed but rather intensified discussions about it, both political and technical, Yuliya Krivonosova says. The Moscow journalist […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “What Happens if Putin Gets Coronavirus? Who take over the Russian Government? What is the line of succession?” – The National Interest/ Charlie Gao

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

“… While many countries have a clear ‘line of succession’ …. [f]or Russia, this line of succession is not clear beyond the first step, which is the prime minister assuming the duties of the president. But recent measures in response to COVID may provide some level of insight …. Most leaders in Russia are still out and about, making statements […]

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The Putin Constitution

Kremlin and River

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – William E. Pomeranz, Deputy Director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute – March 30, 2020) In the end, it was all a big show. Putin unleashed constitutional reform in his January 15, 2020, state of the nation address with a hint of institutional change and a theoretical path forward to a post-Putin era. He formally […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Coronavirus Forces Putin to Delay Vote That Could Keep Him in Power” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

Referendum originally planned for April is final hurdle to allowing Russia’s president to potentially stay in office until 2036 “In his first address to the nation since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic … Putin told citizens that an April referendum on changes to the country’s constitution would be postponed to help curb the spread of the illness. The national […]

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Constitutional Change a Turning Point in Russia’s History and Quite Possibly Not in the Direction Moscow Wants, Garifullin Says

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, March 14, 2010) Most residents of the Russian Federation are at present indifferent as far as the constitutional amendments are concerned either because they have been reduced from the status of citizens to mere populace or because no one has explained why these changes are needed or what they will mean, Ilnar […]

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Russian Scholars, Legal Experts Sign Up Against ‘Constitutional Coup’

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 16, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russian-scholars-legal-experts-sign-up-against-constitutional-coup-/30490881.html) Hundreds of scholars, journalists, and legal experts in Russia have warned in an open letter that the country faces a “deep constitutional crisis and an illegal, unconstitutional coup” as the Constitutional Court prepares to rule on a raft […]

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Putin’s End Game?

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

(PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo – Henry Hale – March 11, 2020) Henry E. Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and Co-director of PONARS Eurasia at George Washington University. Speaking to the lower house of parliament on March 10, Vladimir Putin seemingly affirmed what many have suspected all along: that he intends to stay in power well beyond […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Prisoner in the Kremlin; Why Vladimir Putin cannot retire; He has too many enemies, and too many cronies who depend on him” – The Economist

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

“… Putin … chose the crudest … perhaps simplest[] method – changing the constitution and giving himself an option to stay …. in the footsteps of several post-Soviet central Asian despots …. Putin’s other amendments curb the … parliament and courts … position[ing] him as ‘not only the head of the state but the head of the executive branch … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin is brazenly trying to make himself president for life” – Washington Post Editorial

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

“… Constitutional amendments already in the works will now include a provision allowing [Putin] to serve two more terms. That could extend his time in office to 2036, when he will be 83. … [Putin] could rule Russia for 36 years, more than a decade longer than Joseph Stalin. … a recipe for stagnation, akin to the corrosive paralysis … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Endorses Brazen Remedy to Extend His Rule, Possibly for Life” – New York Times/ Anton Troianovski

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

In a carefully scripted appearance, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia agreed he should be allowed to seek two more terms, if the Constitutional Court approves “It looked as though … Putin had been gearing up … obscure constitutional changes as a surreptitious way to remain Russia’s leader after presidential term limits forced him to step down in 2024. But […]

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Vladimir Gelman: “An intention to preserve the political status quo and Putin’s authority is seen in the constitutional reform”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Olga Khvostunova – February 27, 2020) Olga Khvostunova is IMR’s political analyst and researcher. In an interview with IMR, political scientist Vladimir Gelman, professor of the European University in St. Petersburg and the University of Helsinki, discusses the origins of Russia’s bad governance, the goals of Vladimir Putin’s recent political initiatives, and the […]

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Why So Few Protests Against Putin’s Constitutional Shake-Up?

Aerial View of Kremlin and Environs

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Matthew Luxmoore – Moscow, Jan. 28, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/why-so-few-protests-against-putin-s-constitutional-shake-up-/30402490.html) When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a raft of constitutional changes in his state-of-the-nation speech on January 15, immediately fueling mounting suspicion that he was seeking a way to retain power after his current […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin’s New Orchestra; The players are being rearranged, but the conductor remains the same” – New York Times/ Ivan Krastev

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

“… The timing and the nature of the constitutional amendments make it clear that … Putin perceives his regime as in crisis and is doubtful about the continued viability of a system of personal rule when he is no longer around. He knows perfectly well that what his apologists trumpet as political stability is in reality … stagnation … that […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Putin remains secretive about his future role” – AP/ Vladimir Isachenkov

Kremlin and River

“… Putin remained tight-lipped about his future role … as he fast-tracks … constitutional changes widely seen as an attempt to maintain his dominance … after … 2024. … Putin, 67, has been in power for more than 20 years, longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin, who led from 1924 until his death in 1953. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Parliament Passes Putin’s Constitutional Plans on First Reading” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev, Thomas Grove

Russian State Duma Building file photo

Proposals could allow Russia’s president to exercise power beyond his 2024 term limit “Russia’s parliament … gave preliminary approval to … Putin’s constitutional overhaul … [which] could allow him to maintain control over the country’s political scene after his term ends in 2024. The Kremlin-controlled State Duma … unanimously passed the constitutional amendments bill in the first of three readings. […]

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