The Constitutional Court approved proposed changes to the constitution on Monday, March 16, leading the government to schedule a vote on Wednesday, April 22. The changes would allow incumbent President Vladmir Putin to run again for president, potentially allowing him to remain in office for another two terms until 2036. According to the current constitution, President Putin must step down in 2024.
However, President Putin reportedly told the head of the Central Election Commission that the government will postpone the vote should the ongoing international outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) require it. While measures currently in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 include limiting mass gatherings of over 5000 people, opposition protests are possible in the weeks leading up to the vote. A heightened security presence is also expected during the vote.
The Russian constitution allows a president to serve two consecutive terms in office before stepping down. Some lawmakers have proposed that any changes to the constitution should reset the term counts of the current and former Russian presidents.
Individuals in Russia are advised to monitor the situation, avoid any demonstration, protest, or mass gathering, and to adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.