Russian PM Medvedev Resigns Amid Putin Power Play
Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev announced his resignation on January 15 along with those of the rest of his cabinet, clearing the way for president Vladimir Putin to implement sweeping constitutional changes.
The announcement came shortly after Putin proposed that a referendum be held on amendments to the Russian constitution, expanding the powers of parliament and the state council. The move is widely seen as a way for Putin to curtail the powers of a potential successor, should he step down at the end of his term in 2024.
“After those amendments are adopted ... there will be significant changes not only to a variety of constitution articles, but to the balance of power, namely to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power,” Medvedev said on state television alongside Putin. Therefore “the government in its current form has resigned.”
“For my part, I also want to thank you for everything that was done at this stage of our joint work, I want to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” Putin, who counts Medvedev among his close allies, told a meeting of ministers, according to Tass. “Not everything was done, but everything never works out in full.”
Medvedev and Putin have known each other since working together in St Petersburg politics in the early 1990s. When Putin stepped down as president in 2008 after serving for the maximum two consecutive four-year terms allowed under the constitution, Medvedev took his place.
Putin continued to wield the real power as prime minister, however. He then returned to the presidency in 2012, extending the term duration to six years. Medvedev was then appointed prime minister and has served in the role ever since.
According to Putin, Medvedev will take on a new role as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council.
The Russian ruble sunk to a one-week low of 61.81 against the US dollar after Medvedev’s announcement. London-listed shares in major Russian oil and gas firms such as Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil dipped slightly but quickly rallied again.
Medvedev was Gazprom’s board chairman between 2000 and 2008 and has kept close ties with some of the company’s top managers. On the other hand his main political opponent is Rosneft’s powerful head, Igor Sechin.
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