Moscow uses gift certificates to entice voters to referendum

A person dressed as a bunny and wearing a funny face mask advertises a store amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in St. Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow’s city government is offering residents the chance to win gift certificates for voting in a national constitutional referendum next month that would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to run for another two terms.

Alexei Nemeryuk, head of the capital’s trade and services department, said voters will be able to participate in a raffle for 2 million gift certificates from stores, for parking and for other services.

Nemeryuk characterized the program on Thursday as a way to encourage consumer spending; Moscow businesses were hard-hit by a coronavirus lockdown that closed most stores.

But the raffle also appears to encourage a large voter turnout that would bolster the July 1 referendum’s image. Recent surveys by the independent Levada polling organization show support for the amendments at about 45%, with more than 20% of respondents undecided.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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