Most Russian voters in Estonia supported Russia's constitutional reforms

Voting at the Russian Consulate in Tallinn.
Voting at the Russian Consulate in Tallinn. Source: ERR

More than 7,500 Russian nationals in Estonia voted in Russia's constitutional referendum with the majority backing the proposals which could keep President Vladimir Putin in power until 2036.

Citizens of Russia residing or staying in Estonia were able to cast their vote from June 25 until Wednesday, July 1 both at the Russian embassy in Tallinn and at the consulate general in Narva, according to the Russian embassy.

Voters in Estonia totaled 7,526, of whom 6,747, or 89.65 percent, were in favor of the constitutional reforms, while 733, or 9.74 percent, were against. There were also 46 invalid ballots.

On Wednesday, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" spoke to voters at polling stations in Estonia.

Data from Statistics Estonia shows there were 327,802 ethnic Russians living in Estonia as of January 1, 2020. The agency does not give information about voting eligibility but the turnout for the referendum was likely to be very low amongst Russians living in Estonia.

The reforms will allow Putin to stand for reelection in 2024, the central election committee announced on Thursday. Overall support for the reforms stood at 77.92 percent and voter turnout at 65 percent, according to the committee

Among other changes, the amendment will reset term limits for Putin, enabling him to stand for reelection and potentially remain in power until 2036.

In a recent interview, Putin said that he has decided to run for presidency once more in order to enable Russia's political elite to focus on governance instead of looking for his successor.

The reform provisions will grant the president additional powers in appointing senior officials, judges and prosecutors and promise to set the minimum wage at least at the minimum subsistence level.

Russian laws will take precedence over international laws under the reforms, which will also see pensions indexed on the basis of inflation.

The constitutional reforms aim to protect conservative values. The amendments concern Russians' faith in God and the status of Russian as the national language and define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Any action aimed at the "expropriation" of Russian territory, or calling into question the state's "historical truth" will be banned.

Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has slammed the vote as a populist move granting Putin the right to be "president for life". 

"This is a violation of the Constitution, a coup," he said.

Putin's opponents, fragmented due to years of political repression and without access to state media, have not been able to create any considerable resistance to the reforms. The authorities are aided by the coronavirus, due to which public gatherings have been prohibited.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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