Russian PM and government resign after Putin proposes changes to the constitution

Russian PM and government resign after Putin proposes changes to the constitution

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In a move that has prompted speculation about President Vladimir Putin's plan to retain some power after his term ends, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his ministers stepped down hours after Putin suggested amending the country's constitution during his annual state of the nation address.

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Putin thanked Medvedev for his service but said his cabinet didn't achieve all of their goals. He also asked the outgoing government to remain at work until a new government is formed.

Medvedev's comments: "After those amendments are adopted — and it was said that this is likely to be done following discussion — 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, 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."

What's next for Medvedev? Putin is expected to appoint Medvedev as deputy of the presidential Security Council.

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Putin and Medvedev have long been allies. When President Putin's first two-term presidency ended in 2008, Medvedev was elected president and Putin took the role of prime minister until 2012, when they switched roles. Putin's current presidency ends in 2024, as the Russian Constitution only allows a president to serve two consecutive terms.

The proposed changes: The news came just after Putin called for a national referendum on amending the Russian Constitution that would give more power to the Parliament and the state council, an advisory body to the Russian head of state, established by Putin himself in 2000.

“Of course these are very serious changes to the political system. It would increase the role and significance of the country’s parliament ... of parliamentary parties, and the independence and responsibility of the prime minister," Putin said during his address.

Under the reforms, the prime minister would suggest candidates for deputy prime ministers and government ministers to parliament, whose members would then vote on to affirm or reject. The president, however, wouldn't have a say in the matter.

“I propose… entrusting the State Duma with the power to approve the candidacy of the prime minister, and then, per the prime minister’s proposal, all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers ... The president would be obliged to appoint them to these jobs. He would not be allowed to reject candidates confirmed by parliament," Putin said, reports Reuters.

Putin's stance on presidency limit terms: Putin said Wednesday that a president should serve two consecutive terms only: “I know that a constitutional provision is being discussed in our society that the same person should not be president for more than two consecutive terms. I don’t think this is a fundamental issue, but I agree with that.”

Photo credit: Government.ru

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