Vladimir Putin has delayed a public vote on constitutional amendments that could allow him to stay in power until 2036 due to the coronavirus outbreak in Russian Federation. "But when we make it out of this situation, and we will do so, I hope this takes place maybe even earlier than you've said", Putin said, responding to an IT entrepreneur's comment about possible state support for companies in the digital knowledge market.
Putin didn't set a new date for the plebiscite, which was originally scheduled for April 22, saying that it would depend on how the pandemic develops in Russian Federation.More news: Prince George and royal siblings clap to thank workers fighting coronavirus
Fifty-six percent of Russian respondents said they don't believe the officially reported numbers, while 38% said they trust the authorities' information.
Putin's comments came after the government reported 658 infections, up from 495 a day before, a rise Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said was nearly three times higher than the previous average of confirmed cases. Putin said he welcomed the idea, saying the state will do its part to implement this, but added that a measure of control must remain in place to ensure safety for consumers.
Until the virus outbreak, many Russians had been focusing on the sweeping constitutional changes that under current law, Putin wouldn't be able to run for president again in 2024 because of term limits. Moscow's parks will also shut.More news: Virgin Australia halts Tigerair ops; cuts 90% domestic capacity
The 67-year-old has been in power since 2000, longer than any other of the country's rulers since the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Sobyanin said the rate of coronavirus growth was high, "a serious situation is developing" and the healthcare system may be overwhelmed at the virus's peak.
Donning a yellow hazmat suit and respirator, he praised doctors treating coronavirus patients there.More news: BBC Dad Returns To TV With His Kids To Talk About Coronavirus
But the number of confirmed cases is now climbing in Russian Federation, like everywhere else. And, despite a worrying 37-per-cent spike in pneumonia cases in January in Moscow, Russians are only tested if they both display symptoms and have visited a hot spot in the previous two weeks. Putin did not mention how much his new measures would cost the budget, which is expected to see a 3 trillion rouble shortfall this year from the weak commodity prices only.