Russian government quits as Putin looks to tighten his grip on power

Russian government quits as Putin looks to tighten his grip on power
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia January 15, 2020. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin. Photo-REUTERS
WHAT'S going on?

The entire Russian government has stepped down after President Vladimir Putin's proposed constitutional reforms. And now, Putin is recommending the former prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to be replaced by the head of the tax office, Mikhail Mishustin.
In a televised speech, Putin suggested amending Russia’s constitution to limit a future president to two terms in office, tightening residency requirements for presidential candidates, and letting parliament choose candidates for the prime minister and the cabinet.

What does this mean?
This constitutional change in effect weakens the presidency. This would give for Putin a new path to holding onto power after his current term ends in 2024.

Currently, the Russian constitution forbids Putin from standing for re-election as president in 2024, as the constitution limits the Presidency to two consecutive terms.

However, there is nothing stopping him from becoming prime minister, as there is no ruling on a total number of terms that a president may serve. This happened before in 2008 when Putin and Medvedev swapped roles for four years.

Why you should care?

We do not know Putin's real motive, yet. However, some analyst believes that it is unlikely that Putin would want to be prime minister again, as he might be more interested in chairing the State Council - focusing on foreign policy.

Putin's efforts to tighten his grip on power is also one way he shows his willingness to go to extraordinary length as a direct rival for the United States and its allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a meeting with members of the government in Moscow, Russia January 15, 2020. Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via REUTERS

Russia's State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin (L) and Mikhail Mishustin, who was earlier nominated by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the candidate for the post of Prime Minister, walk before a meeting with members of political parties at the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, in Moscow, Russia January 16, 2020. The State Duma, The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS