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Russia's government resigns as Putin calls for constitutional change

EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV
Russian Prime Minister nominee Mikhail Mishustin speaks during a plenary session at the State Duma in Moscow, Russia, 16 January 2020. Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted the candidacy of Russian Federal Taxation Service Head Mikhail Mishustin for the post of Russian Prime Minister after the Russian government resigned on 15 January 2020 following Putin's address to the federal Assembly. The Russian State Duma is to consider the president's nomination on 16 January 2020.

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Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev suddenly resigned on 15 January, hours before the head of Russia’s tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, was named as the next PM.
The country’s president Vladimir Putin outlined proposed constitutional changes aimed at strengthening the powers of government bodies, fueling speculation that he is paving the way for keeping power after the end of his current term.
“President Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Mikhail Mishustin and suggested that he take on the duties of the head of government. With his consent, Putin submitted the prime ministerial candidacy of Mishustin to be considered in the Duma”, Russian media said.
Mishustin, 53, is not considered a high-profile politician in Russia. He began working in the tax service in 1998 and was later named deputy tax minister. In 2008, was the head of a Russian investment company, and was named head of Russia’s tax service in 2010.
“The candidacy of Mishustin is absolutely unexpected, but this does not mean that he is a person which causes resistance. Not all heads of tax institutions enjoy sympathies and affection.”, said an official, who described him as a man of “great experience” and a “person who was part of the system”.
Last month, during his annual speech, Putin said he was open to the possibility of changing the country’s constitution, including proposals to limit the number of terms a president can serve. He rejected speculations that his move is an attempt to stay in power.
“Since Putin’s main task now is to secure his own political future, we can assume he is paving the way for himself there”, an expert said.
“It’s not clear what role he will play, what will his status be. The only thing which is clear is that he will keep his role as the No. 1 person”, a Russian political analyst said about Putin.
Russia’s constitution bans anyone from serving more than two consecutive presidential terms, which prevents Putin from running again, when his fourth presidential six-year term ends in 2024.
However, analysts agree that Putin is looking for ways to stay in power, whether he steps down or finds another way to prolong his official position at the top.

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