Hundreds protest in Moscow against reforms that could keep Putin in power


Moscow (Reuters) – Hundreds protested in central Moscow on Wednesday against constitutional reforms introduced earlier this month that give President Vladimir Putin the option to remain in power for another 16 years, a Reuters witness said.

About 500 demonstrators, many of whom wore face masks branded with the word “no”, chanted calls for Putin to resign and held up banners against the reforms, surrounded by police.

A vote earlier this month amended Russia’s constitution, handing Putin the right to run for two more presidential terms, an outcome the Kremlin described as a triumph.

Opposition activists say the vote was illegitimate and that it’s time for Putin, who has ruled Russia for over two decades as president or prime minister, to step down.

“I came here to sign the petition against the constitutional reforms because I am a nationalist,” said one 40-year old man in a black t-shirt as protesters chanted “Putin is a thief”.

Fourteen-year old Vasilisa said she also signed the petition because “(Putin) is to blame for the poverty in our country”.

“Gay people are killed here, women are beaten up here, and no one is ever held accountable,” she said.

Two Russian activists involved in the campaign against the constitutional reforms were detained last week and the homes of five others were searched, ahead of the scheduled protest, which had not been sanctioned by authorities.

Mass gatherings are banned in the capital because of COVID-19 restrictions. Even in normal times, protests of more than one person require the authorities’ advance consent.

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