January 15, 2020 | 10: 47am
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev — and the entire government — resigned Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin proposed a shake-up of the constitution to allow him to remain the leader after his presidency ends.
Medvedev, who served as a placeholder president in 2008-2012 to allow Putin to observe term limits, said he needed to step down in light of his mentor’s proposed changes in government.
A few hours after the Russian strongman’s address, the two men appeared together on national TV to say the government was resigning.
Medvedev said the constitutional proposals would make significant changes to the country’s balance of power and so “the government in its current form has resigned.”
“We should provide the president of our country with the possibility to take all the necessary measures” to carry out the changes, he said. “All further decisions will be taken by the president.”
Putin thanked Medvedev, expressing “satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” and appointed him as the deputy head of the presidential Security Council.
In his state of the nation address earlier, Putin suggested amending the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and Cabinet members. The authority to make those appointments now belongs to Russia’s president.
Other changes would see the role of regional governors enhanced and residency requirements tightened for presidential candidates.
“Today in our society there is a clear demand for change,” Putin said in his address. “People want development, they are striving to move forward in their careers, in their education, in becoming prosperous.”
The package of reforms would be put to a national vote, he added, without specifying when.
“We will be able to build a strong prosperous Russia only on the basis of respect for public opinion,” he said.
Speculation has been rampant about changes to the country’s political system that would allow Putin to stay on after 2024. Some have suggested he could stay as a premier with increased powers or in a powerful behind-the-scenes role.
It was not immediately clear how, if at all, the constitutional changes could affect Putin’s future role.
But leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said he expected any referendum to be “fraudulent crap” and that Putin’s goal remained to be “sole leader for life.”
Russia last held a referendum in 1993 when it adopted the constitution under Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
With Post wires