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Hundreds protest in Moscow against constitutional changes that could extend Putin’s rule

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Several hundred people turned out in Moscow on July 15 to protest recently approved constitutional changes that could allow President Vladimir Putin to serve two more terms until 2036.

Protesters chanted “Putin resign” and “Putin’s a thief” amid a heavy police presence in Pushkin Square on a rainy evening in the Russian capital.

Demonstrators turned out officially to sign a petition against the raft of constitutional changes that were passed in a national, nonbinding plebiscite conducted between June 25 and July 1.

Among other changes, the amendments allow Putin to seek two more presidential terms after his current second, consecutive presidential term ends in 2024.

Katya Grishunina, who works at the Nuzhna Pomoshch (Help Needed) NGO, compared the recent plebiscite to the vote in Crimea in March 2014 on Russia’s forcible annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

“I didn’t vote for their constitutional changes. The vote was rigged, just like the referendum in Crimea,” Grishunina explained to RFE/RL at the demonstration.

“Elections are a trigger for people who want real change,” she added. “But I don’t know if we can effect any change right now.”