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Putin's plans to reshape Kremlin to his liking

Putin
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The Russian government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced plans in Parliament to change the Constitution.

The Russian government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced plans in Parliament to change the Constitution. Putin has proposed a nationwide vote on changes that would shift power from the Presidency to Parliament.

He has asked Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to take up the post of deputy head of the National Security Council. Medvedev said the president's proposals would significantly change Russia's balance of power.

"These changes, when they are adopted... will introduce substantial changes not only to an entire range of articles of the Constitution, but also to the entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of judiciary," Medvedev said. "In this context... the government in its current form has resigned."

The announcement came as a surprise, and in a statement, Putin thanked the government for what it had achieved. The reason why Putin had removed Medvedev was unclear. It is a really crazy day in Moscow politics. Basically, Putin has removed Medvedev as Prime Minister and will take all the decisions he would normally have taken. Putin has also asked Ministers to stay in place until there is a new Cabinet.

President Putin's fourth term in office is due to end in 2024, and under the existing Constitution, he would not be entitled to another term. Indeed, he can change the Constitution itself, but he has promised not to remain President beyond 2024. And there lies a big hint. The move gives President Vladimir V Putin new leeway to reshape the Kremlin to his liking and put loyalists in positions of power.

Russia has seen this movie before. The news came just after Putin had called for a national referendum on amending the Russian Constitution to expand the powers of Parliament and a body called the State Council, which currently has little weight.

That move fuelled speculation about what plans Putin was making to retain his hold on power after his term ends in 2024.The Constitution limits a president to two consecutive terms, meaning that without a change, Putin would have to step down at that time.

The last time Putin faced the two-term limit, in 2008, Medvedev was elected President and Putin became Prime Minister, though he remained the real power in the government. Putin returned to the Presidency in 2012, and Medvedev became Prime Minister.

Putin could be planning a similar move, becoming a newly empowered Prime Minister or head of the State Council. But he offered few details about the changes he was seeking and gave no hint of his own plans. When Medvedev held the Presidency, he and his patron were not always in sync, to the annoyance of Putin, who undid several of his measures.

In particular, Putin was angry that Medvedev had declined to use a United Nations veto in 2011 to block airstrikes against Libya, attacks that helped topple the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

So, this is probably what Putin is up to: In 2024 he will become Prime Minister, but by that year, the post of Prime Minister would have been made more powerful than that of President. That is Putin!

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