Russia counts 6,700 new coronavirus cases on eve of referendum seeking extension to Putin’s term in power

Russian President Vladimir Putin. EPA-EFE/ALEXEI DRUZHININ/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN

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Russia added just under 6,700 new coronavirus infections today, meaning the country’s official number of cases has risen to 647,849.

The country’s one-day increases in new cases have fallen to their lowest levels since April.

Over the past 24 hours 154 people have died, bringing the total toll to 9,320 — a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic.

A total of 9,220 people recovered over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 412,650.

Russia has been easing restrictions for a couple of weeks as the country prepares to hold a national vote tomorrow despite the pandemic.

Constitutional amendments put to public vote

President Vladimir Putin is seeking public support for constitutional amendments that would allow him to stay on at the Kremlin beyond his current term.

Critics have cast doubt on Russia’s low official mortality rate and accused authorities of under-reporting to play down the scale of the crisis.

Russia attributes its lower virus death figures to mass testing which has identified many cases with mild or no coronavirus symptoms.

The Health Ministry is now adjusting how it reports numbers to include all deaths believed to be related to the virus even if the direct cause of death was another condition or the patient tested negative.

The vote is taking place despite the Opposition raising concerns over the safety of people voting during the pandemic, as well as on voter fraud, and criticism that Putin, 67, has already been in power too long. Putin has already served four non-consecutive terms, and one of the main reforms, would allow him to run for the Presidency again in 2024, with the possibility of serving two more consecutive six-year terms in the Kremlin until 2036.

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