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Russian officials reportedly begin preparing for national vote on constitutional changes before corresponding bill has passed
Source: Kommersant

Russia’s Central Election Commission has begun logistical preparations for a nationwide vote on a series of radical changes to the country’s Constitution proposed by President Vladimir Putin.

The newspaper Kommersant reported that, according to multiple anonymous sources, the commission discussed a popular vote on the proposals during a closed-door meeting. Its members reportedly decided to order regional election commissions to analyze their local preparedness for such a voting process and submit the results by January 27.

Central Election Committee Chair Ella Pamfilova said during the meeting that the vote’s results would have to be beyond doubt, according to Kommersant. She suggested that the Civic Chamber, a public monitoring body, be assigned to observe the process.

Grigory Melkonyants, the co-chair of the Golos (Voice) rights movement, argued that neither the Central Election Commission nor its regional counterparts has a legal basis for preparing to hold a national vote on Putin’s proposed constitutional changes because no law to that effect has yet been passed. The State Duma has only voted (favorably) on the proposals’ first of three readings. The second is scheduled for February 11.