Russia passes referendum that could extend Putin's rule to 2036
Updated: 2020-07-03 10:00:51 KST
Vladimir Putin has been leading Russia either as President or Prime Minister since 1998.
As it stood, Russia's constitution had required Putin to step down after his current six-year term ends in 2024.
That is, until a referendum on the constitution passed this week, allowing him to serve two more six year terms.
Amendments to the constitution had already been passed weeks ago by Russia's parliament, but Putin insisted they also be approved by a referendum to give the changes more legitimacy.
Seventy-eight percent of voters voted 'yes', with two-thirds of eligible voters casting their ballots.
President Putin thanked the Russian people for their show of confidence in his leadership.
"I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Russia. I would like to say thank you very much for your support and trust."
The 'yes' vote means his presidential term resets, allowing Putin to run twice more, giving him a chance to stay in power until 2036.
If Putin stays in power for 12 more years after his current term ends, it would make him the longest-serving Russian ruler since Peter the Great.
In addition to a reset of presidential terms for Putin, the referendum also includes some 200 other amendments.
This includes a ban on same-sex marriage, guaranteed minimum pensions, and a provision to ban the relinquishing of any Russian territory, a move aimed at solidifying Russia's hold on Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Watchers say, while the focus was mainly on Putin's extension in power, the referendum may also lead to major changes in years to come.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.