Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening appointed Mikhail V. Mishustin, who has served for the past decade as head of the Federal Tax Service to replace Medvedev as Russia’s prime minister.
Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia abruptly resigned on Wednesday, shortly after his political patron, President Vladimir V. Putin, sent the country’s political elite into a swirl with proposals for sweeping constitutional changes that could extend his hold on power for many years.
Mr. Medvedev’s cabinet also resigned.
In a statement issued by the Russian news agency Tass, Mr. Medvedev, a lawyer who has known Mr. Putin since they worked together in St. Petersburg in the 1990s, linked the unexpected resignations to an overhaul put forward earlier on Wednesday by Mr. Putin.
Mr. Putin, who under current law must step down in 2024, proposed amending the Russian Constitution to expand the powers of Parliament and a body called the State Council, which currently carries little weight.
Mr. Medvedev said those moves would “introduce significant changes” to “the balance of power” between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Mr. Putin named him as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, a powerful body that includes defense and security officials.
It was not immediately clear whether the resignations signaled a rift at the top of Russia’s hierarchy or were part of a coordinated but as-yet-unclear plan by Mr. Putin to hold onto power and reshape the political system that has been in place with only minor adjustments since the early 1990s.
He and Mr. Medvedev have choreographed moves in the past that allowed Mr. Putin to remain in charge; in 2008, when Mr. Putin faced term limits, Mr. Medvedev was elected president. Mr. Putin became prime minister, though he remained the real power in the government, and he returned to the presidency in 2012, when Mr. Medvedev became prime minister.
Mr. Putin described the proposed constitutional changes in his annual state of the nation address on Wednesday as an effort to enhance democracy. They would be the first major overhaul of Russia’s political system since 1993, when the country’s first democratically elected president, Boris N. Yeltsin, sent tanks into the center of Moscow to subdue a rebellious legislature and then ordered a referendum to endorse a new constitution.
(New York Times)
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