The vote is on a constitutional amendment which would allow the Russian President to run for another two terms. Mr Putin’s term expires in 2024 but if approved, he will be allowed two more six-year terms. The proposals are expected to go through, despite rising unemployment due to coronavirus damaging the economy.
Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, told Reuters: “Putin does not have an easy path to improve an economy that looked stagnant before the crisis, and which led to lethargic public support.
“Putin will find it difficult to meet public expectations of economic improvement.”
VTsIOM, a state pollster, believes around two-thirds will endorse the changes.
Opposition politician Alexei Navalny has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.
The leader of Russia For The Future said: “Voting on the amendments is illegal, pointless and dangerous for your health.
“You can boycott it.
“That would be the right and honest thing to do.”
Some have speculated Putin’s move is only to avoid him becoming somewhat of a lame duck as 2024 approaches and he might still handover when the time comes.
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This is his lowest since 1999.
The Communist Party, the second-largest party in the State Duma, though with just 43 seats compared to United Russia’s 338, has spoken out against the reforms, despite tending to back Putin on major issues.
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader, said Putin has gained “more powers than a tsar, a Pharaoh and a Communist Party General Secretary combined.”
Putin first became Russian Prime Minister in August 1999 under President Boris Yeltsin.
Putin became Acting President when Mr Yeltsin resigned on New Years’ Eve, he would then win Presidential elections in March 2000.
In March 2004, he was elected for a second term with 71 percent of the vote.
He was barred from seeking a third term, so essentially swapped roles with his Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
He would return to the Presidency in 2012.
In the 2018 election, Putin received 76 percent of the vote.