Russian PM, government resign after Putin announces changes to keep him in power

Medvedev says he’ll provide the president with all the support he needs to enact constitutional reforms to cement his hold for years

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on January 15, 2020. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on January 15, 2020. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP)

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned along with the rest of the government in a shock announcement on Wednesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a series of constitutional reforms.

In a televised meeting with the Russian president, Medvedev said the 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, Medvedev said.

“All further decisions will be taken by the president.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) and his wife Svetlana attend the celebration of a Christmas service in Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow, January 7, 2020. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)

Putin asked Medvedev, his longtime ally, to continue as head of government until a new government has been appointed.

“I want to thank you for everything that has been done, to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” Putin said.

“Not everything worked out, but everything never works out.”

He also proposed creating the post of deputy head of the Security Council, suggesting that Medvedev take on the position.

Medvedev, a longtime close associate of Putin’s, has served as Russia’s prime minister since 2012. He spent four years before that as president in 2008-2012, becoming a placeholder when Putin had to switch into the prime minister’s office because of constitutional term limits on the presidency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly at the Manezh exhibition hall in downtown Moscow on January 15, 2020. (Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP)

He obediently stepped down after just one term as president and let Putin reclaim the top job in what was widely seen as cynical political maneuvering and triggered massive protests in Moscow.

Medvedev’s resignation followed Putin’s annual state of the nation address earlier Wednesday. During his speech, the Russian leader proposed amending the constitution to increase the powers of prime ministers and Cabinet members.

The proposed move is seen as part of Putin’s efforts to carve out a new position of power for himself to stay at the helm after his current term as president ends in 2024.

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