Putin voting in local elections in September. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russians have overwhelmingly approved constitutional changes that could allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in office for 16 more years, electoral officials said Wednesday, though independent observers have reported widespread irregularities, AP reports.

Why it matters: This is the most significant package of constitutional changes since the fall of the Soviet Union, and it will allow Putin — who has led Russia either as president or prime minister for 20 years — to serve two more terms after his current mandate ends in 2024. Critics have decried it as a power grab and cast doubt on the results.

The big picture: Elements of social conservatism — such as "faith in God" and opposition to gay marriage — will also be added into the constitution.

  • Parliament will receive new powers, including the ability to appoint the prime minister, while the president will have greater control over the judicial system.
  • There was no outside scrutiny of the vote, which took place over seven days, per the BBC. Opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny called for a boycott of the election, while the Kremlin offered incentives to boost turnout.

Go deeper: Read Axios' special report on 20 years of Putin

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Oct 9, 2020 - World

Trump aiming for nuclear arms deal with Russia before Election Day

Trump and Putin the G20 last June. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The Trump administration is pushing to get a nuclear arms control agreement with Russia ready for President Trump and Vladimir Putin to apply their signatures before Election Day.

Where things stand: The U.S. believes the prospective deal has buy-in from Putin — who has discussed arms control on a series of phone calls with Trump — and could be negotiated in as little as a week, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

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Bond investors see brighter days

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. government bonds could breakout further after yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked up to their highest since early June last week.

But, but, but: Strategists say this move is about an improving outlook for economic growth rather than just inflation.

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  1. Politics: The swing states where the pandemic is raging. Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
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  6. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery