Putin’s enduring power

ABC News’ Patrick Reevell reports on Russia’s passage of a constitutional referendum lifting limits on Vladimir Putin’s potential time in office, and concerns about fraud in the vote.
5:24 | 07/03/20

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Transcript for Putin’s enduring power
Now to Russia where today president Vladimir Putin thanked his supporters for backing a constitutional amendment that will allow him to effectively remain president. For the rest of his life should he choose to run again or at least until 2036. But anti Kremlin critics allege large scale fraud an outright ballot stuffing as well as pressure on public employees to back whose position. In a referendum. So what happened behind the scenes of that from ABC's Patrick regal has the story. Vladimir Putin looking relaxed on Wednesday. As he voted in a constitutional referendum that will allow him to extend his rule until 2036. Ever since gruden announced the vote there was little doubts about the outcomes. But the weeklong referendum produced a huge result for the Kremlin. By the official counts nearly 78%. Of Russian votes is back the amendments. It means that he's in. Already in power for twenty years will now be able to run for two more six year terms as president speaking opponent what you the Kremlin sent such importance on the votes it held its even as Russia's corona virus epidemic. Has continued to worsen. In the day off to divert food treats it almost is no big deal. Via a shoe. Company it's the slow it look at them listed. Management IC. For just go that's. Spicy moment to have those but gifts we that you throughout he's acted as though the referendum was not about his future. Russians for us to vote on over 200 amendments including social will think guarantees. Among them a ban on same sex marriage. His critics though have no doubt over the true purpose of the vote. This is illegitimate. It's not a referendum the key amendment Reese's Putin's presidential hand count from four to zero. Meaning he won't be able to running game in 20/20 full and again often bent. The move needed now many observers believe to head off the potential succession struggle. Who's in telling state TV is much last month. And if it was it's necessary to work and not look for successors. And authorities pulled out all the stops to get out that those despite the virus epidemic. Offering voters the chance to win cash prices. And apartments. To review the record most usual safe guns prevent ruled who removed. Over the course of seven days people were allowed to boot at work grew at home. Opposition activists have accused authorities of simply fabricating that though to get it above 70%. Some videos have emerged of a parent ballot stuffing. People are writing to find their votes for the Reggie being cast. Election observers have faced obstacles in monitoring the polls. Falsification of bubbles filed yes that it was there. National red coats since reform over the Soviet view. Her man who don't runs goalless an election monitoring group that sees is gathered hundreds of examples of violent fraud. As he came to meet ABC on this state he was ambushed by a crew from a Kremlin TV channel he told us they harassed him and asked him why he was talking with Americans. A specially leadoff spot what you need to fit it Chicago. Spicy. The channel makes Iran a report falsely suggesting blue dog attacked the journalists are. Who don't Sais he believes as much as 30% of the referendums votes may be fraudulent she's. But you have to understand that you can. But led books stuffed with people you can compile them to vote in favor pieces looked pretty choice this is not bad for you real. They. Sort gulf vulnerable stuff but that it Dawson. You can become well with soldiers to do it duke and compiled people who from municipal. Organizations a lot of Russian business businesses look for you know Russia and they have waited dependent on local affords us. Critics suggest such tactics were needed because in recent years polls show Putin's popularity has slowly begun to weaken. The recent survey from a state polling agency showed only 28%. Of Russians trust who's in. The lowest number on record and down sharply from three musica. We had this old already. Two years dynamic sold very bridge you'll slow down. His vision of it falling off his personal rating. Denise vocal from Russia's only independent polling agency that Nevada since it sees his polls show while most Russians still support groups and it doesn't mean all of them approve of his decision to stay in power indefinitely. The decision itself was of other controversial. It's 5050 in population fifty. Who really who are against. This decision 50% to in favor of it. And so with the announcement of his decision that. It made these rating. Go don't so the sun more. Putin though is still popular. In a referendum has shown how strong his ability to control Russia's political reality remains. Station that he didn't look. Did more than most recently each night you deeply detonated about what. For ABC news passion regal.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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