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Opening the way for President Vladimir Putin, Russians voted for a package of constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in power until 2036. According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, 78% of votes counted had supported in favour and 21% had voted against the constitutional changes. The overall turnout was 65% and in some regions, almost 90% of eligible voters cast votes, the election officials said.

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However critics questioned the turnout figures and said the outcome was falsified on an industrial scale. Opposition politician Alexei Navalny called the vote an illegitimate and illegal show designed to legalise Putin’s presidency for life.On the other hand, Ella Pamfilova, head of the commission, said the vote had been transparent and that officials had done everything to ensure its integrity.

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Meanwhile, several activists staged a symbolic protest on Red Square on July 1 forming the date – 2036 – with their bodies in protest before being detained by police. In the event, dozens of people protested amid a heavy police presence and demanded for the resignation of Putin.

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Vladimir Putin is the longest-serving Russian leader since Josef Stalin