January 15, 2020 – Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech at the State of the Nation proposing broad constitutional changes, Russia’s government announced their resignation. According to Reuters:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was stepping down to give Putin room to carry out the changes, which, if implemented, would shift power to parliament and the prime minister – and might thus allow Putin, 67, to rule on in another capacity after his current term ends in 2024.
Medvedev, a long-time Putin ally and former president, announced his resignation on state TV sitting next to Putin, who thanked him for his work.
Putin said Medvedev would take on a new job as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, which Putin chairs.
Attention now turns to who becomes the next prime minister. The array of possible candidates includes Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who is credited with breathing new life into the capital.
Wednesday’s changes will be seen by many as the start of Putin’s preparations for his own political future when he leaves the presidency in 2024.
Whoever he picks as prime minister will inevitably be viewed as a possible presidential successor – echoing the way that Putin stepped down from the presidency in 2008 to become prime minister under Medvedev, who then stepped aside four years later to allow Putin to resume the presidency.
In power in one of the two roles since 1999, Putin is due to step down in 2024, when his fourth presidential term ends. – Reuters
This would allow Putin to install people who are loyal to him, and potentially extend his stay in power.
BREAKING: Russian government resigns
Details to follow pic.twitter.com/ma64XCzAQK
— RT (@RT_com) January 15, 2020
This resignation allows Putin to nominate the next government, so while there are changes that are planned that allegedly give more power to Parliament this also allows Putin to consolidate power in the meantime.
According to an article in the BBC:
Under the existing constitution he would not be entitled to another term and the Russian leader said during his speech to both chambers of parliament that there would be a nationwide vote on changes that would shift power from the presidency to parliament.
The government’s resignation came as a surprise. Mr Medvedev has been prime minister for several years. He previously served as president from 2008-2012, switching roles with Mr Putin – a close ally – after the latter served his first two terms as president.
Russia’s constitution only allows presidents to serve two consecutive terms.
Even when he was prime minister, Mr Putin was widely seen as the power behind then President Medvedev.
‘These changes, when they are adopted… will introduce substantial changes not only to an entire range of articles of the constitution, but also to the entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of judiciary,’ Mr Medvedev said of Mr Putin’s proposals.
‘In this context… the government in its current form has resigned.’
Mr Medvedev made his announcement on state television with President Putin sitting next to him.
Mr Putin thanked Mr Medvedev for his work but said ‘not everything’ had been accomplished.
BBC Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford said the reason why Mr Putin had removed Mr Medvedev was unclear. – BBC
Putin appears to be attempting to change public perception regarding corruption and revamp the public face in light of increasing anger and protests from the citizens.
It remains to be seen what, if any, real changes and reform will be enacted. These changes appear to give more power to and strengthen the government and provide more accountability but it still allows broad power to the President. When it comes to the highest levels of power in Parliament they can no longer have any dual citizenship and they have to have been a resident in Russia for 12 years.
This story is still developing. Please check back for updates.