Putin backs Russian referendum on July 1

By AAP Newswire

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved rescheduling Russia's constitutional referendum to July 1, state media reports say.

"This date is perfect," Putin said in a televised meeting, responding to a proposal by the country's electoral commission.

The referendum seeks approval for wide-ranging changes to Russia's constitution, including a provision to enable Putin to run for re-election.

The voting had been initially scheduled for April and was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Putin, who has been in power as president or prime minister for two decades, is the longest-serving Russian or Soviet leader since Joseph Stalin.

The constitution would be amended to enable Putin, 67, to run for re-election as president twice more, theoretically enabling him to remain in office for another 16 years from now.