Putin delays constitutional vote allowing him to keep power

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has postponed a nationwide vote on proposed constitutional amendments that include a change that would allow him to seek another term in power.

Putin didn't set a new date for the plebiscite originally set for April 22, saying Wednesday that it would depend on how the new coronavirus pandemic develops.

He also announced during a televised address to the nation that the government doesn't want Russians except those working in essential sectors to come to work next week. He said that stores, pharmacies and banks will stay open.

“Health, life and safety of the people is an absolute priority for us,” Putin said.

Russian authorities reported 658 cases of the new virus on Wednesday, with 163 new cases registered since the day before. That marked a significantly bigger daily increase from previous days, when the number of new infections grew only by several dozens.