Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that the entire government is resigning in a surprise statement released shortly after President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address.
Accepting the resignation, Putin thanked the ministers for their hard work and asked them to function as a caretaker government until a new one can be formed.
Medvedev and Putin had met for a work meeting to discuss the state-of-the-nation address earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin said. Medvedev explained that the cabinet is resigning in accordance with Article 117 of the Russian Constitution, which states that the government can offer its resignation to the president, who can either accept or reject it.
During his speech, Putin said he intended to create the position of deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, which would be offered to Medvedev.
Medvedev’s move to the new role will mean Russia will have a new prime minister when a new government is formed.
Putin also proposed multiple amendments to Russia’s constitution. His proposals would entail “substantial changes” to the constitution as well as to the “entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of the judiciary,” Medvedev explained.
“In this context, it is obvious that, as the government, we must provide the president with a capability to make all decisions,” which are required to implement the proposed plan, Medvedev said announcing the en-masse resignation.
Medvedev became prime minister in 2012, after serving four years as president. He currently heads the ruling United Russia party.
Under Putin’s plan, the State Duma – the lower house of parliament – will be granted the power to appoint the prime minister and the rest of the cabinet, as opposed to just approving their candidacies as is currently the case.
Another idea voiced by Putin is to make the consultation body, the State Council, a permanent fixture, with its status and role written into the constitution. The president praised the council’s effectiveness, stressing that its working groups ensure the most important problems for the people are thoroughly looked into.
‘Russia in Global Affairs’ Editor-in-Chief Fyodor Lukyanov told RT that the change will be a step towards the “diversification of power” at a time when the country is being “increasingly governed in a ‘manual control’ mode and fully fixated on the president.”
“It is an attempt to transform a super-centralized personified system of power into a more balanced and diversified one… with a strong president but not as strong as today.”
“The resignation symbolizes the current ‘reboot’ of the political system” ahead of the 2021 parliamentary and 2024 presidential elections, Dmitry Badovsky, head of the Moscow-based Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, told RT.
The cabinet’s resignation is also “tied in with the constitutional amendment package” proposed by Putin on Wednesday.
A possible departure for the outgoing cabinet was hinted at by the Russian president a year ago, when he promised personnel changes dependent on how well the top officials handled “national-priority projects,” according to Badovsky.
The resignation was “obviously a joint decision” by Putin and the outgoing PM, but was likely made at the behest of the Russian President, political analyst Dmitry Babich told RT. The move is bound to strike a chord with the majority of Russians, he said, describing it as “a very popular albeit somewhat belated” decision. Voters – who overwhelmingly propelled Putin into the nation’s highest office for the fourth time last year – have given the president a mandate to alter Russia’s political course, making it “more patriotic,” and the liberal-leaning government of Dmitry Medvedev simply did not fit. Medvedev is “a clear-cut liberal” whose cabinet was hellbent on integrating Russia into global economic structures, such as the World Trade Organization, even though many of these bodies have become increasingly hostile to Russia in recent years, Babich noted.
Though thanking Medvedev and his team for their hard work, Putin also said that not everything has been accomplished.
The nationwide programs are aimed at raising living standards and bettering the wellbeing of Russians. They encompass many spheres, including the improvement of education, housing and healthcare services.