Putin’s power play stuns the world as he picks new Prime Minister
The Kremlin may have fallen in on itself, but one thing’s for certain: Vladimir Putin is not going anywhere.
The Russian Cabinet has resigned en masse after the President proposed a raft of political changes that could keep him in power for the rest of his life, news.com.au reports.
According to the country’s term limits, Putin cannot run for re-election after 2024.
But the Russian politician, who was voted president in 2000 and has enjoyed an almost unchecked reign ever since, does not want to give up his status and influence if he can help it.
The 80-minute address was expected to be a standard, run-of-the-mill outline of statistics and the economy – and for the first hour, it was.
Then he dropped a bombshell.
The Russian President revealed a big package of proposed changes to a referendum that would change the government’s inner workings.
Among his proposals, he wants to give Russia’s parliament more power by allowing politicians to name prime ministers and Cabinet members — a job that currently falls on the President.
He also wants to give the President more sway in deciding how heads of security agencies are appointed.
Putin also suggested amping up the status and role of the State Council in the Constitution of Russia.
He gave few details as to what this would all mean. But it’s been widely speculated that the Russian leader is looking for ways to ensure his legacy after his final term as President is up, and continue running the show from the shadows.
Shortly afterwards the Russian government resigned en masse — not as an act of protest, but to give Putin room to bring about these reforms.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the President’s political sidekick, will also be stepping down and taking up a newly-created back seat role in defence.
The move sent shockwaves around the world, and there’s now one question on everyone’s lips: what does Putin want?
This isn’t about staying in power, per se. Putin has promised not to seek a third term — and even if he wanted to, he could just take a leaf out of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s book and change the constitution to waive term limits.
But the Russian leader, who will be 71 years old when he steps down, is increasingly focusing on his legacy and the ability to rule from the shadows after his time is up.
Now, analysts say one of two things is likely to happen: Putin will become prime minister, or he will become the head of a newly-empowered State Council.
The latter would allow him to maintain total control of the country if he leads the State Council — an advisory body, established by Putin himself, which deals with the nation’s most important issues.
Oleg Ignatov, an analyst at the Moscow-based Centre For Current Policy, said there are “rumours” he could take this path rather than become the new prime minister.
“If this happens, it’s possible that his word will be the last word,” he told CNN. “He will not be interested in technical details, but everything will be under his control.”
Other experts suggest the role itself doesn’t matter; what matters is that Putin will remain Russia’s leading figure regardless.
“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,” Aleksei Chesnakov, a political analyst and former Kremlin aide, told The Wall Street Journal.