Russian Government in Shock Resignation After Putin Calls for Reforms

The video production of the inaugural ceremony of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin Press Center

Mr Putin thanked Mr Medvedev for his work but said "not everything" had been accomplished.

Dmitri Trenin, head of the Moscow Carnegie Center, said Putin had begun the process of redrawing state powers ahead of the 2024 end to his current presidency.

Putin's speech and Medvedev's announcement were also carried via Russian television stations.

"I know that a constitutional provision is being discussed in our society that the same person should not be president for more than two consecutive terms", Putin said.

In his speech, Putin said the changes would help Russia's parliament take more responsibility in policymaking.

The head of Russia's Central Election Commission, Yelena Pamfilova, said she's on standby to organize the vote but suggested the changes may well be implemented without a referendum being held at all.

Others thought Putin might become prime minister and effectively flip-flop the current structure to elevate that position above the presidency, a tactic humorously compared to the "castling" move in chess by longtime Putin-watchers after he did the same thing in reverse by swapping prime minister for president with Medvedev in 2008.

"In this context, it is obvious that, as the government, we must provide the president with a capability to make all decisions" needed to execute the proposed plan, he said. Under Medvedev, the constitution was amended to lengthen the president's term from four years to six.

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It was unclear how, if at all, the constitutional changes could affect Putin's future role.

Crucially, parliament - which is dominated by the United Russia party that Mr. Putin founded - would choose the prime minister and cabinet, rather than the directly-elected president.

Alexey Pushkov, a senator from Perm Krai and former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the State Duma, emphasises that "those are important changes" which will give more possibilities to the head of the government, who will be less dependent on the president.

He remains popular with many Russians who see him as a welcome source of stability even as others complain that he has been in power for too long.

What President Putin is suggesting is a public vote on changing the constitution - the first such vote since 1993. This is not what we hear normally in the press about "Putin's Russia" and his personal control.

It keeps rival members of the elite unsure of where power will lie when Mr Putin steps down, and nicely preoccupied with outmaneuvering and second guessing one another rather than cosying up to a clear successor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at a gala on the occasion of the New Year at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow on December 26, 2019. Putin opened with initiatives to improve Russia's demographics by proposing financial incentives for citizens who have children and then addressed low teacher salaries, boosting their monthly wages by roughly $80. Sometimes he has used it to also deliver menacing diatribes against the West and in 2018 he unveiled a series of super weapons that he claimed placed Russian Federation ahead in any new arms race.

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