26 June Kathmandu:
Russians have gone to the polls to cast to vote on major constitutional amendments that could see President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036.
Voting on the referendum began Thursday and polling sites will be open for seven days with an effort to avoid the crowds that may gather on a single day of voting amid coronavirus concerns.
Election officials said that they were opening polls on Thursday across the country before the official July 1 vote to reduce the risk of overcrowding that could spread coronavirus infections.
Masks and disinfectant gels are being made available to 110 million voters across 10 time zones, from the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Pacific Ocean.
The amendments were proposed by Putin in January. The Kremlin reluctantly postponed the vote that was originally scheduled for April 22 citing the pandemic, and agreed to have polling stations open for the week before to prevent overcrowding.
If the amendment passes, it would allow Putin, whose current term expires in 2024, to hold office until 2036.