Thursday, 16 January 2020 04:53

Putin's power grab: Russian President sets himself up to rule for LIFE

Russian President Vladimir Putin set himself up to rule for life today after announcing sweeping reforms with his entire government resigning to clear his path.

In an address to the nation, the former KGB agent - whose term ends in 2024 - described how power was being shifted from the presidency to parliament.  

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said his resignation was necessary for Putin 'to make all decisions' and was installed in the mysterious position of deputy head of the presidential Security Council.   

Putin's murky reforms are expected to be a straight swap, turning the presidency into the ceremonial role so that he can become the newly-empowered prime minister.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called the reforms 'fraudulent crap' that would end with Putin being 'sole leader for life'.  

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in shock resignation

 
 
 
Dmitry Medvedev (centre) resigned as Russia's Prime Minister on Wednesday, saying it was necessary while President Putin reforms the country's constitution

British government sources have suggested that Putin's hand has been forced by a rising populist movement across the globe and increased opposition among his own people.

His economy has also taken a blow from US and European sanctions so a firm grip is needed to face down any potential insurrection by the masses. 

Putin said any constitutional changes would have to be put to the people in a referendum, the first that Russia will have held since 1993. 

Medvedev served as president from 2008 until 2012 when Putin was forced to step down due to term limits.

When Putin returned as president in 2012, Medvedev was appointed prime minister, a position he had held ever since.

He will remain in power despite Wednesday's resignation, as Putin appointed him to the newly-created position of deputy leader of the presidential security cabinet. 

In Medvedev's place, Putin nominated the little-known head of the Russian tax service Mikhail Mishusti.  

Medvedev announced his resignation on state TV sitting next to Putin, his mentor.  

Putin, who has been governing in tandem with Medvedev since 2008, thanked his former protege for his efforts but said the cabinet had 'failed to fulfill all the objectives set for it'.

'I want to thank you for everything that has been done, to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,' Putin said.

'Not everything worked out, but everything never works out.' 

Putin has asked for the outgoing government to remain at work until a new government was appointed.   

Medvedev said the government was resigning to 'provide the president of our country with the possibility to take all the necessary measures'.    

'All further decisions will be taken by the president,' he said.  

Medvedev announced his resignation following a speech in which Putin announced he would be making changes to the constitution to empower parliament 

Putin, who has been governing in tandem with Medvedev since 2008, thanked his former protege for his efforts but said the cabinet had 'failed to fulfill all the objectives set for it'.

'I want to thank you for everything that has been done, to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,' Putin said.

'Not everything worked out, but everything never works out.' 

Putin has asked for the outgoing government to remain at work until a new government was appointed.   

Medvedev said the government was resigning to 'provide the president of our country with the possibility to take all the necessary measures'.    

'All further decisions will be taken by the president,' he said.  

 

Putin said Medvedev would take on a new job as deputy head of Russia's Security Council, which Putin chairs. 

The 67-year-old Putin is due to step down as president in 2024 and the Russian constitution prevents him from running for a third consecutive term. 

The Russian political world is already abuzz with speculation about how Putin might stay in power, although he himself has said almost nothing on the subject. 

At his annual address to lawmakers today, he announced plans for package of reforms which could allow him to carve out a new role as a powerful PM. 

Under the reforms, Putin's successor as president would be stripped of the power to choose the prime minister. 

Russia's parliament - the State Duma - would select a prime minister and the president would not have the power to reject them, Putin said.  

The changes would also give parliament the power to choose senior cabinet members, further weakening a future president's authority. 

However, the president would still be able to fire the PM - although Putin's high approval ratings might make that politically infeasible. 

Other changes would see the role of regional governors enhanced and residency requirements tightened for presidential candidates. 

'Of course these are very serious changes to the political system,' Putin said in a speech today as he promised a referendum on the plans. 

'It would increase the role and significance of the country's parliament ... of parliamentary parties, and the independence and responsibility of the prime minister.' 

Putin has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin. 

A former KGB officer, first took power as acting president when Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned on the last day of the millennium.  

After his first two terms as president ended in 2008, Putin circumvented the term limit by shifting into the prime minister's seat while Medvedev served as president. 

Putin was widely seen as pulling the strings under Medvedev, although they clashed over intervention in Libya in 2011.  

In 2012 Putin returned to the top job and appointed the loyal Medvedev as prime minister. 

The switch of jobs was widely seen as a cynical ploy and sparked massive protests in 2011-12 in a major challenge to the Kremlin.  

Re-elected to a six-year term in 2018, Putin has seen his approval ratings fall to some of their lowest levels, though still far above those of most Western leaders.

Recent polls put Putin's rating at 68-70 per cent, up a few points from a year ago but down from a high of more than 80 per cent at the time of his last election. 

His loyalists in the United Russia party have also suffered dismal ratings and suffered badly in Moscow local elections last year. 

Another option for Putin would be to merge Russia with Belarus - a process which has long been the subject of speculation - and become head of a new unified state. 

 
 
Medvedev will stay on in government in the newly-created post of deputy of the presidential security cabinet (Putin and Medvedev talk in Moscow on Wednesday)

Russia is Belarus's closest ally and the two have formed a nominal 'union' with close trade and military cooperation.  

Putin played down such speculation last year, saying there were no plans for a merger with Belarus.  

Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko has been more blunt, saying last year that unification 'was not on the agenda.' 

 

 

MailOnline

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