In a major shakeup in Russia’s politics, Mikhail Mishustin was Wednesday appointed Prime Minister. The evening before, President Vladimir Putin had proposed changes to the country’s Constitution — a move that would make it possible to extend his rule after his term as president ends in 2024. Hours after Putin’s announcement, former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned with his entire Cabinet.
Putin, 67, has led the country for more than 20 years, the longest since Soviet authoritarian leader Josef Stalin. Since 1999, Putin has continuously been in power, either as prime minister or president — from August 9, 1999 to May 7, 2000 as PM; May 7, 2000 to May 7, 2008 as president; May 7, 2008 to May 7, 2012 as PM again; and since May 7, 2012 as president. He was re-elected in March 2018 for another 6-year term, which expires in 2024.
Under current law, the President is limited to two consecutive terms.
Explained: Putin’s proposed amendment to Russia’s Constitution
Putin has proposed amending Russia’s Constitution to give more power to parliament, while curbing the powers of the president. Through the amendment, lawmakers would be allowed to name prime ministers and cabinet members, currently a power that lies with the president. The president would, however, continue to hold on to the right to dismiss them, as well as the power to name top defence and security officials. A nationwide referendum would be conducted to confirm the changes, Putin said.
He also proposed making the state council, a body which currently serves in an advisory role to the president, more powerful.
Observers believe that after the constitutional changes come into force, Putin would shift back to the prime minister’s chair, effectively securing his future in power through re-elections, while redistributing some of his powers with lawmakers.
Putin remains popular with many Russians who believe his rule provides the country stability, but he is also criticised for silencing critics and the press.
Mishustin could be Putin’s presidential successor if the latter decides to become prime minister come 2024.
Putin has orchestrated such a shift before. When he stepped down as president in 2008, he became the PM with Dmitry Medvedev assuming the presidency. Medvedev stepped down in 2012 when Putin became president and took up the role of PM. He remained in the job for almost eight years until Thursday.
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