Russian government quits as Putin plans constitution change
Putin thanked Medvedev for his work and appointed him as the deputy head of the presidential Security Council
Moscow: President Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of his prime minister on Wednesday after proposing constitutional amendments that could herald his intention to carve out a position that would let him stay at Russia's helm after his presidency ends.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who served as a placeholder president in 2008-2012 to allow Putin to observe term limits, said in televised comments that he needed to resign in light of his mentor's proposed changes in government.
Putin thanked Medvedev for his work and appointed him as the deputy head of the presidential Security Council.
In his state of the nation address earlier in the day, Putin suggested amending the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime minister's and Cabinet members. The authority to make those appointments currently belongs to Russia's president.
"It will increase the role of parliament and parliamentary parties, powers and independence of the prime minister and all Cabinet members," Putin said.
He emphasised that constitutional changes must be put to a nationwide vote.
Putin's current term ends in 2024, and Russia's political elites have been abuzz with speculation about his plans.
The 67-year-old Putin has remained at the helm for more than 20 years — longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin. He will have to step down after his term ends under the current law, which limits the president to two consecutive terms.
Political analyst Kirill Rogov said that Putin's proposals indicate his intention to remain in charge while re-distributing powers between various branches of government.
Medvedev's decision to step down after one term to let Putin return to the presidency also sparked massive protests in Moscow in 2011-2012 in a major challenge to the Kremlin.
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