MOSCOW – Russian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Mikhail V. Mishustin on Thursday as the new prime minister, elevating a little-known technocrat elected by President Vladimir V. Putin as part of an unexpected Kremlin shake.
On Wednesday, Putin proposed major changes to the Russian Constitution that would extend political power more evenly, away from the president to Parliament, the State Council and other government institutions.
Many analysts saw the possible rearrangement of Russia’s political system, which surprised the country’s political elite, as an effort by Putin to ensure that he remains in power after 2024, when his term ends, although it was not clear how it would work exactly that.
Shortly after Putin presented the review in his annual speech on the state of the nation, his ally Dmitri A. Medvedev resigned as prime minister, saying he would clear the way for the proposed constitutional changes. On Thursday, Putin appointed the deputy chairman of Medvedev of the country’s Security Council, who advises the president.
Mishustin, former head of the Federal Tax Service, received 383 votes of 424 cast on Thursday in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, with 41 abstentions from the Communist Party. It is considered that the chamber, dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, only has a rubber stamp paper.
After the vote, Mr. Putin signed a decree formalizing Mr. Mishustin’s new role.
The proposed constitutional changes, Mr. Medvedev’s resignation and Mr. Mishustin’s selection were quickly made in what looked like a carefully planned operation, one that left many analysts guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions and his next moves.
Many speculated that Putin, who, according to the Constitution, cannot run for president again in 2024, planned to take another position that would allow him to maintain his control over power. Others noted that the sequence of movements would keep their opponents out of balance and short-circuit any succession conversation, ensuring that the president was not considered lame.