Putin sets out path to power beyond 2024


Russian President Vladimir Putin's new prime minister promised "real changes" on Thursday as he was approved by lawmakers after the Kremlin announced sweeping reform plans.

The resignations followed a speech by Putin, in which he proposed amending the constitution to increase the powers of prime ministers and Cabinet members.

The most important of these proposed changes (along with that of judicial independence) is that of moving the power to form the government from the president into the legislature.

Putin was confirmed as President in March 2000, and he served in the role for two terms until 2008.

The Russian constitution, adopted on Christmas Day 1993, imposed a limit of two consecutive terms of four years for people elected president.

Putin, on the other hand, has accepted the government's resignation, according to Russian media outlet, RT, and asked the "ministers to function as a caretaker government until a new one is formed".

On Wednesday, he proposed expanding the State Council's role and enshrining its status in the constitution.

Medvedev said the current government should rightly step down in the wake of presidential proposals to amend the constitution, Medvedev told the Cabinet in the meeting with Putin.

After that deadline, Mr Putin became prime minister for four years but in 2024 he will, for the second time, reach the presidential term limit - and he knows he can not risk reaching it without a plan to stay in power.

Putin also emphasised that Russian Federation "must remain a presidential republic", and said that such a huge and diverse country can not survive without a strong presidency.

Putin suggested to establish a position of a deputy head of the Russian Security Council and to appoint Medvedev to the position.

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Observers say that Putin's choice of Mishustin, who lacks any political weight, indicates that the latter will not play an independent role and that the president's dramatic speech was likely aimed at preparing the ground for 2024, when the 67-year-old must leave the presidency.

What changes did Putin propose?

The former head of an investment group who trained as an engineer, Mr Mishustin has a PhD in economics and has led Russia's Federal Tax Service since 2010.

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".

A switch of power from presidency to parliament could beckon a power shift that has been widely speculated about in Russian Federation. As a result, the current government resigned.

"Commentators had instead put forward other names, including Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow who is known to be loyal to President Putin".

One widely speculated option is that Putin could become head of a reformed council as a way for him to remain a supreme leader figure, following a model employed by China's Deng Xiaoping.

At the same time, Putin argued that the president should retain the right to dismiss the prime minister and cabinet ministers, to name top defense and security officials, and to be in charge of the military and law enforcement agencies.

According to the leader of the United Russia bench in the Duma, Sergey Neverov, which holds the majority, Mishustin said he would discuss each of the candidates for members of his future cabinet with the parties represented in the lower house. Overall, it has been a cautiously calibrated initiative, considering that the tenure of Putin's presidency is scheduled to end in 2024.

For the first time in history, we aren't trying to catch up with anyone, Putin said. He also said these reforms are necessary to bring the Russian constitution up to date.