Putin addresses nation amid growing coronavirus concerns in Russia (WATCH LIVE)
The planned national vote on constitutional amendments in Russia will be postponed from April to a later date, President Vladimir Putin said, citing the threat of Covid-19. He also declared the next work week a holiday.
Speaking in a televised address on Wednesday, Putin announced a number of measures to support the Russian people during the increasingly serious threat of coronavirus in the country.
The Russian government will postpone the vote on the constitution, which was scheduled for April 22. There will also be special payments to support people whose livelihoods have been affected by the epidemic, whether due to health problems or the economic slowdown it has caused.
The measures also include tax breaks for small and medium-sized business owners, the suspension of credit payments for individuals who are unable to pay due to loss of income, and changes in how personal bankruptcy is done in Russia.
The president called on all Russians to take the situation seriously and follow the instructions of health officials and other authorities, as the wellbeing of many people, especially the elderly who are especially vulnerable to the disease, depends on it.
Please, don’t think like people often do – it can’t touch me. It can touch anyone.
Another drastic measure announced by President Putin is a significant hike on dividends transferred out of the country by large companies and their owners. Russia will have to coordinate this change with foreign nations to avoid double taxation, but it could be done unilaterally if necessary, he said.
Taxing revenues from equities will be another source of funding for all the spending the government plans in order to mitigate the crisis.
“All the measures that have been and will be taken will work, produce a result as long as we show solidarity, understanding of the difficulty of the current situation,” Putin said. “If the state, the society, the citizens act together. If everyone does everything possible.”
Russia has so far been largely spared by the Covid-19 pandemic. It currently has 658 cases of the disease, but that number jumped by 163 in one day, fueling concerns that an explosive increase in positive tests may happen within days.
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