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  Tuesday, January 19, 2021
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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday cancelling the 20% minimum voter threshold in elections at all levels
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday cancelling the 20% minimum voter threshold in elections at all levels, the Kremlin press service said. The law, adopted by the State Duma November 17 and approved by the Federation Council November 24, also includes measures against extremist activities during elections and referendums. Lawmakers from the United Russia, Rodina (Homeland) and Liberal Democratic (LDPR) factions sponsored the bill. In addition to a provision barring persons convicted of felonies or extremist activities from running in elections, the law also bars those who have incurred administrative penalties for propagating Nazi slogans and regalia. The bill also bans the use of commercials and appeals to vote against other candidates in election videos. The ban does not cover open debates and printed materials. But initially the bill came under criticism from some officials and political parties. Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov challenged parts of the bill, saying it is premature to abolish the lower limit for voter turnout, although he spoke in favor of other changes proposed in the bill. "The prospective changes include some positive, indisputable proposals, but there are objectionable proposals as well, that could be called premature. Among those I consider premature is the decision to remove the voter turnout threshold," he said. Veshnyakov said that in the future, the turnout minimum could be reduced to 5%, but not less. The Communist Party also opposed the bill, arguing that abolishing the turnout threshold will make the country's electoral system "unviable" and incapable of reflecting the will of the people.
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