Putin Appears at Russia Day Celebration
In his first public appearance since May 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday expressed confidence that “an absolute majority” of Russian citizens support constitutional reforms that include allowing him to stay in office until 2036.Putin, speaking at a Russia Day Celebration at Moscow’s Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill, offered holiday greetings to Russian citizens and their compatriots abroad.In his comments, Putin spoke of the common “historical code and moral foundations,” culture and traditions that all Russians share, such as respect for the working man, parents and family. He said “There have been frequent requests to include these fundamental, core principals into the Russian constitution. I’m sure that the absolute majority of our citizens share and support such a position.”Russians go to the polls July 1 to vote on a series of constitutional reforms, including a change that would allow Putin to run for two more six-year terms, after his current term expires in 2024.Other ballot measures include deepening presidential powers over parliament, establishing the ruble as Russia’s official currency and defining marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively banning gay marriage.Observers speculate the gay marriage ban was added to the ballot to drive voter turnout. Russia Day began in 1992 to mark Russia’s declaration of sovereignty from the Soviet Union, paving the way to the country’s independence.