Russia’s government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed comprehensive constitutional changes that could prolong his stay in power.
Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said the president’s proposals would significantly change Russia’s balance of power.
Putin asked Medvedev to become deputy head of the National Security Council, which is chaired by Putin himself.
The unexpected announcement comes four years before Putin’s fourth term in office is expected to end.
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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.
It was reported that the resignation took even the ministers by surprise.
“It was a complete surprise,” one source was quoted as sayin said.
Medvedev has been prime minister for several years. He previously served as president from 2008 to 2012, switching roles with Putin, a close ally, after the latter served his first two terms as president.
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Russia’s constitution only allows presidents to serve two consecutive terms.
Even when he was prime minister, 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,” Medvedev said about Putin’s proposals.
“In this context… the government in its current form has resigned.”
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Medvedev made his announcement on state television with President Putin sitting next to him.
Putin thanked him for his work, but said “not everything” had been accomplished.