Mar 25, 2020 - World

Putin postpones constitutional referendum due to coronavirus

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that a referendum on a series of constitutional amendments — including one that would allow him to remain in power through 2036 — will be postponed due to coronavirus. He did not set a new date.

Where things stand: There has been suspicion in Russia and overseas about the country's relatively low number of confirmed cases — just 495 as of Tuesday, without a single confirmed fatality. Putin had insisted the situation was "under control," but he elevated his warnings today and said non-essential workers should stay home next week.

Go deeper: How world leaders are handling the coronavirus crisis

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Russian parliament passes bill that allows Putin to rule until 2036

Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russia's parliament approved constitutional amendments backed by President Vladimir Putin that, among other changes, could allow him to remain in power until 2036 by resetting his presidential tenure after his current term ends in 2024.

The state of play: The question of what will happen at the end of Putin's current term has loomed over Russia, leading him to propose sweeping constitutional changes earlier this year. Russia's Duma applied the rubber stamp in a 383-0 vote, with 43 abstentions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 11, 2020 - World

Fiona Hill: Putin has the U.S. "exactly where he wants us"

Fiona Hill testifies in impeachment inquiry of President Trump on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fiona Hill, the former top Russia expert on the National Security Council, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has the U.S. "feeling vulnerable, he's got us feeling on edge, and he's got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems" in a "60 Minutes" interview airing on Sunday.

The big picture: The nation's top election-security official warned the House Intelligence Committee last month that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected and to continue attempting to sow discord among the U.S. electorate.

Coronavirus looms over OPEC+ meeting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

OPEC and Russia are slated to meet in Vienna this week to decide whether to extend and deepen their production-cutting agreement as the novel coronavirus eats into global oil demand.

Why it matters: The economic slowdown from the spread of the virus has pushed oil prices down to their lowest levels in over a year — creating new tests for the 3-year-old OPEC+ alliance between the cartel, Russia and allied producers.