Russia reforms: Early results suggest Putin victory in reform vote
Russians appear to have strongly backed constitutional reforms that could keep President Vladimir Putin in power for two more terms.
Hours before polls had closed, preliminary vote counts were reported from the Central Electoral Commission.
Ria Novosti said 70.8% of voters supported the measures, after 10% of polling stations had been counted.
The proposed reforms would reset Mr Putin’s term limits to zero, allowing him to stay in power until 2036.
Opposition members have said he is trying to become “president for life”, a claim Mr Putin denies.
There is no independent scrutiny of the seven-day vote and copies of the new constitution appeared in bookshops during the week.
Polls were not due to close until 18:00 GMT in the western enclave of Kaliningrad on Russia’s Baltic coast. Before the vote had ended, the internal affairs ministry said there had been no violations that could affect the result, Interfax reported.
Voting began across Russia last week and the electoral commission put turnout at 63%.
The Russian president and his supporters say the reforms are needed to ensure national stability. Mr Putin has not said he will run again for the presidency when his latest term runs out in 2024, but has said it is vital he has the option to do so.
Other conservative reforms include a ban on same-sex marriage and reference to Russia’s ancestral “faith in God”.