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Russia Day, also called Day Of Adoption of the declaration of state sovereignty of RSFSR before 2002, is the national holiday of the Russian Federation. It has been celebrated annually on June 12 since 1992 and is the successor of October Revolution day. The President of Russia decided to use the Russia Day holiday as a means to promote a controversial reform of the constitution which could keep him in office until 2036.
Vladimir Putin has been on the frontline of Russian politics for over 20 years, serving as both Prime Minister and President.
Despite a huge number of infections, Moscow still decided to lift lockdown curbs this week.
However, despite these measures being lifted, the Mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, has still been urging people to stay at home during Friday’s holiday.
About 510,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Russia, the third-highest number of cases in the world after the US and Brazil.
Russia has recorded 6,705 deaths amid accusations of under-reporting by the authorities.
Mr Putin, 67, has been absent for more than three weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
His last public appearance was on May 9 when he attended a Victory Day ceremony and since then he has been working from his country retreat outside Moscow.
In his speech, he urged Russians to turn out and vote for the constitutional reform in a referendum on July 1, saying he was certain that an “absolute majority” of Russians backed it.
If this reform passes then it would allow Mr Putin to stand for two more terms as President.
Putin critics have accused the authorities of trying to bribe Russians to turn out for the vote.
Moscow has reportedly been planning to hand out shopping vouchers to those who vote, justifying the offer as a means to boost consumer demand post-lockdown.
Georgy Alburov, an ally of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said the mayor of Moscow had failed to support small businesses during the lockdown.
However, he noted that the Mayor could easily “find plenty of money if he has to lure in people to ‘polling stations’ to affirm Tsar Putin”, according to Reuters.
Russia, like many countries, has been suffering acute economic hardship because of its lockdown, which began at the end of March.
It’s believed that lockdown has frozen large sectors of Russia’s $1.7tn economy, which has meant the Kremlin has been left with two outcomes.
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Either maintain restrictions to smother the world’s second-largest number of Covid-19 infections or lift a lockdown that could lead to gross domestic product shrinking by 6 per cent this year, according to forecasts by the country’s central bank.
For the whole of April, they were forced, by President Putin, to pay salaries to employees, while also suspending their operations.
Moscow barber Denis had spent four weeks under a national lockdown that has paralysed his business.
“If the government really cared, if they really wanted to help small businesses, they would give us financial support or let us work,” said Denis
“We have got no loan vacations, no handouts.”
Amid rising unemployment, there have been signs of growing disillusionment with the Kremlin.
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