Preliminary results from Russia indicate that the package of constitutional amendments that, among other things, would allow President Vladimir Putin to seek two more terms and remain in power until 2036, have been reportedly approved by more than 75% of the population.
ALDE Party President Hans van Baalen commented in response:
Nikolai Rybakov, leader of ALDE member party in Russia Yabloko which does not recognise the "plebiscite" and its results, said: “the false and unlawful special operation Constitution 2020 will be completed ingloriously. Its purpose and meaning is to put President Vladimir Putin beyond the limits of presidential terms, out of voting rules, out of reach of court and above the law; to consolidate in the Basic Law of Russia the lawlessness and arbitrariness that have developed in our country over the past decades.”
“The Yabloko party reiterates the illegality of both the amendments to the Constitution and the voting procedures in the Federal Assembly, regional legislative assemblies and an absurd ‘plebiscite’ with the use of early, electronic and home-based voting. Citizens’ applications on changing the form of voting were not recorded. ‘Voting points’ were organised in unsuitable places for this: in the streets and yards, even in the trunks of cars. It is unclear where and how the ballots of the citizens who voted early were stored. All this, in the absence of citizens’ control, created unprecedented opportunities for falsification. This is a mockery of common sense”, he said.
Yabloko founder Dr Grigory Yavlinsky has written an article entitled “About the Future”, in which he says: "the official results of the illegal, uncontrolled, mockingly buffoonish ‘popular vote’, certainly do not reflect the real attitude of Russian citizens to the current government, its policies and actions. […] The Public Constitutional Council, created on the initiative of the Yabloko party, contrasted Putin’s altering of the Constitution with completely different changes to the Constitution, corresponding to the tasks that our country faces in the 21st century.”
Mikhail Kasyanov, leader of ALDE member party in Russia Parnas which called on citizens not to vote, said: “According to representatives of the Putin administration, there has been a real ‘triumph of Putin’ who with such ‘popular support’ should rule us for as long as possible. In reality, Putin’s entourage is driving this ‘triumph’ into the minds of citizens in a situation of growing dissatisfaction with Putin and the complete bankruptcy of his policy.”
“A long-term decline in the living standards of citizens and a reduction in social obligations to them, increased taxes, isolation of the country from the civilized world - all this leads to more and more people realising that the growing gap between the propaganda ‘triumph’ and the real situation in the country will become the main background of public life in the near future. The long-suffering Russian people see everything, endure these humiliations, but are already preparing for change.”
Dacian Cioloş, leader of the Renew Group in the European Parliament, said: “What kind of democracy allows a leader to stay in power until the age of 84 years — after 37 years in office! No need Mr Putin to pretend listening to the people of Russia via a fake referendum.”
Jacques Maire, the leader of the ALDE group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, tweeted: “doubtful organisation, no international observation or meaningful public debate, package of amendments heavily criticised by the Venice Commission… Might be a vote, but this is not democracy.”
Michael Link MP, current member of the German Bundestag and former Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), tweeted: “The constitutional referendum in Russia is a farce. Electoral manipulation does not only happen on election day itself: the problem is the preceding undifferentiated reporting of the media in Putin’s interest.”
Trine Skei Grande, leader of Venstre, Norway, tweeted: “The referendum in Russia shows that the country is not a democracy - now the liberal and democratic forces need all the support they can get from us.”
Guy Verhofstadt MEP said: “Fixing elections & creating new terms through manipulation shows Putin's insecurity & weakness, not strength. [Alexei] Navalny is right, the referendum was more a procedure than a fair election. Russian people should resist the system & hope for a free future.”
Arif Hacili, the leader of Musavat, Azerbaijan, tweeted: “Putin even wants to break Stalin's record for the length of his term. However, the question of whether he will remain in power until the age of 84 will depend on the will of the Russian people and the Russian people, who have repeatedly changed the course of history through revolutions.”