Russian voters have approved changes to the country's constitution that would allow President Vladimir Putin to seek two more terms and hold power until 2036.
The preliminary results showed 80% of voters supported the amendments, according to officials. Polls had been kept open for a week to encourage voting while keeping crowd numbers low during the pandemic, a move Putin's political opponents denounced as a way to rig the election.
"We look at neighboring regions, and anomalies are obvious — there are regions where the turnout is artificially [boosted], there are regions where it is more or less real," Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of independent election monitoring group Golos, told The Associated Press.
In addition to letting Putin continue to rule, the amendments also outlaw same-sex marriage, mention "a belief in God' as a core value, and place Russian law over international norms.
🔦 Putin has been in power for more than two decades, longer than any other Russian leader since Josef Stalin.