Coronavirus delays Russian vote on Putin staying in power

Nellie Chapman
March 27, 2020

The vote had been scheduled for April 22.

Mr Putin said: "The absolute priority for us is the health, life and safety of people".

Under the current law, Putin wouldn't be able to run for president again in 2024 because of term limits.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed confidence that Russian Federation will stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, and said that doing so is only a matter of time and the effectiveness of joint work between the state, society and business. If approved, the 67-year-old former KGB officer, who has dominated Russia's political landscape for two decades, could rule until 2036.

Russian Federation is under numerous rounds of sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States, and other countries over its actions in Ukraine. Russian Federation saw more than 100 new infections in a day for the first time bringing the total number of cases to 666. Putin noted in his speech that countries nearby "have already been seriously affected by the epidemic, which means that in all objectivity it is impossible to stop it from spilling over into Russian Federation". On Tuesday, he donned a yellow hazmat suit to visit a Moscow hospital treating COVID-19 patients, where the chief doctor warned him that Russian Federation needed to "prepare for the Italian scenario". Italy has been the hardest-hit nation in Europe with more than 69,000 infections and over 6,800 deaths.

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In his address, Putin also urged Russians to help each other and follow instructions given by medics and the authorities.

"It is important for the period of crisis to create the so-called green corridors, free from trade wars and sanctions for the mutual supply of medicines, food, equipment and technology", Putin said, addressing the G20 virtual summit, according to an official Kremlin transcript. "Believe me, the safest thing you can do now is to stay home".

"These are forced measures, they are temporary and forced".

Sobyanin said the rate of coronavirus growth was high, "a serious situation is developing" and the healthcare system may be overwhelmed at the virus's peak. The April referendum was to be followed by a massive May 9 military parade on Red Square - to mark the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany - attended by leaders from around the world.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a decision on whether to go ahead with the parade will be made later, depending on how the coronavirus situation develops.

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