Russia’s constitutional changes to come into force on July 4

A worker cleans an electronic scoreboard reading ‘All-Russia voting, July 1, Our Constitution’ in Moscow on June 22, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 03 July 2020

Russia’s constitutional changes to come into force on July 4

  • Almost 78 percent of people casting their ballot in favor of changing the Russian constitution

MOSCOW: Changes to the Russian constitution, including an amendment that could pave the way for President Vladimir Putin to rule the country until 2036, will come into force on July 4, the Kremlin said on Friday.
The electorate overwhelmingly supported the changes, which were approved after a nationwide week of voting that came to an end on Wednesday, with almost 78 percent of people casting their ballot in favor.
The Kremlin hailed the vote as a triumph, while critics decried it as illegal and illegitimate. An independent monitoring group said the vote was deeply flawed.
Other key reforms include an amendment granting former Russian presidents automatic immunity from criminal prosecution, as well as reforms enshrining a reference to “belief in God” and a statement about marriage being only the union of a man and a woman.


700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

Updated 37 min 39 sec ago

700 tons of ammonium nitrate stuck in Indian port

  • Indian authorities ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India
  • Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade

NEW DELHI: Almost 700 tons of ammonium nitrate, the substance that caused the mega-explosion in Lebanon, has been stuck in an Indian port since 2015, officials confirmed.
At least 153 people died and more than 5,000 were injured when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate languishing for years in Beirut’s port caused a colossal blast.
Indian authorities afterwards ordered a review of all potentially hazardous materials in its ports and were alerted to 690 tons of ammonium nitrate in Chennai in southern India.
Thirty-seven containers of the compound were imported from South Korea in 2015 by an Indian firm for use in fertilizers but were seized after the substance was found to be explosives-grade.
The local customs department on Thursday sought to allay concerns, saying that the chemicals posed no danger and that an auction process to sell it off was under way.
“The seized chemical is securely stored and the safety of the cargo and public is ensured considering the hazardous nature of the substance,” a statement said.
Ammonium nitrate is an odourless crystalline salt that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades.
When combined with fuel oils, it creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also in homemade bombs such as those used in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack.
Many European Union nations require ammonium nitrate to be mixed with calcium carbonate to make a safer compound.
Industrial disasters are common in India. In May, styrene gas leaked from a factory in southern India, killing 15 people.
In 1984, toxic methyl isocyanate leaked from a pesticide factory in Bhopal, killing 3,500 people — and thousands more in the years afterwards — in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.