Russian officials: 78% of voters back extending Putin’s rule

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian election officials say that 78% of voters in Russia have approved amendments to the country’s constitution that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036. The announcement was made Thursday after counting 100% of the precincts. Kremlin critics, however, say the vote was rigged. In the week-long balloting that concluded on Wednesday, 77.9% voted for the changes, and 21.3% voted against. Officials say the turnout exceeded 64%. Critics say the vote was tarnished by widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities. Opposition figure Alexei Navalny says “ a record in falsifying votes has been set in Russia.”