Putin thanks Russians for backing him in constitutional vote

Moscow, Jul 2 (efe-epa).- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday thanked citizens for voting in favor of constitutional reforms that will allow him to stay in power beyond 2024.

“I want to say a word of thanks to the citizens of Russia. Thank you very much for your support and trust,” he said during a video conference.

Almost 78 percent of voters supported the constitutional changes, with around 22 percent voting against them, according to preliminary data from Russia’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC).

Putin said he was sympathetic to those who voted against the constitutional amendments and added that “it is true that there are many unsolved problems in the country.”

The Kremlin also hailed the referendum as “univocally a triumph.”

“In fact, it was a triumphant referendum that shows confidence in President Putin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov added.

He said the level of participation, around 68 percent, and support from Russian citizens during the process was higher than previously forecast.

Peskov added that there is no specific date on when “the positive changes” will come into effect but that it will be “in the near future”.

He said no region was required to guarantee its citizens took part in the vote and no action will be taken against those where there was a low turnout.

The reforms allow Putin to stand again in future presidential elections and stay in the Kremlin until 2036, something which was previously forbidden in Russia.

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