Russian Government Resigns as Putin Proposes Constitutional Changes

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Wednesday his cabinet is resigning to give the country’s President Vladimir Putin the ability to conduct proposed sweeping constitutional changes that would weaken his successor, BBC News reports.

The surprise announcement came after Putin, also unexpectedly, proposed constitutional amendments in his state of the nation address earlier in the day. The move would impose a two-term limit on future presidents and allow parliament instead of the president to choose the prime minister. 

Handing parliament more power at the expense of presidential authority could signal a power shift that has been long speculated about in Russia, Western analysts said, commenting on the development. 

Putin thanked members of the government for their work but added that “not everything worked out.” Putin added that in the near future he would meet with each member of the cabinet.

Putin’s critics have suggested that he is considering various scenarios to retain his grip on control after 2024, including the option of becoming prime minister with extended powers. Similarly, in 2012 Putin swapped places with the prime minister to circumvent the constitutional provision banning the same person from serving two consecutive terms.

“After those amendments are adopted,” Medvedev, sitting next to the president, said on state television, “there will be significant changes not only to a variety of constitution articles, but to the balance of power, namely to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power.”

“In this context,” he continued, “it is evident that we, as the government of the Russian Federation, should provide our country’s president with an opportunity to take all the necessary decisions in these conditions. I believe it right for the government of the Russian Federation to step down in conformity with Article 117 of Russia’s Constitution.”