The entire Russian government have quit, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Wednesday, after Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping reforms that could extend his decades-long grip on power beyond the end of his presidency.
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. The mass resignation includes Medvedev.
The surprise announcement came after Putin proposed constitutional amendments that would strengthen the powers of the prime minister and parliament at the expense of the presidency.
Taking power from the presidency and handing it to parliament could signal a power shift that has been long speculated about in Russia.
Putin’s critics have suggested that he is considering various scenarios to retain control of the country after his presidential term ends in 2024, including the option of becoming prime minister with extended powers.
Similarly, in 2008 Putin swapped places with the prime minister to circumvent the constitutional provision banning the same person from serving two consecutive terms.
In his statement, Medvedev indicated that the government was resigning to clear the way for Putin’s proposed reforms.
Putin “outlined a number of fundamental changes to the constitution, significant changes not only to a number of articles of the constitution, but also to the balance of power as a whole,” Medvedev said in his statement, which was aired on Russian state television.
“In this context, it’s obvious that we, as the government … should provide the president of our country with the opportunity to make all the decisions necessary for this. And in these conditions, I believe that it would be right, in accordance with Section 117 of the constitution,” for the government to resign, Medvedev added.
Putin nominated the head of the Federal Taxation Service, Mikhail Mishustin, to replace Medvedev as prime minister, according to a Kremlin statement.
“With his consent, [Putin] submitted Mishustin’s candidacy for the post of prime minister for consideration by the State Duma,” the Kremlin wrote.