Mikhail Mishustin, the new Prime Minister of Russia was the head of the Russian Tax Service. (Reuters: Sergei Karpukhin)
The Russian parliament overwhelmingly supported President Vladimir Putin’s surprise election for prime minister after a major political reform that, according to some, could establish Putin as a leader for life.
- Putin announced on Wednesday a radical shake of the political system.
- The changes are considered to give Mr. Putin a scope to extend his power beyond 2024
- The decision led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev and his government.
The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, endorsed Mikhail Mishustin, 53, with almost no political profile, and approved his nomination with 383 votes of 424 votes.
No one voted against him; There were 41 abstentions.
Mishustin, who led the country’s tax service and played ice hockey with Putin, said he would name his cabinet in the near future.
Putin signed a decree appointing him prime minister shortly after.
Its elevation is part of a radical shake of the political system announced by Putin on Wednesday (local time), which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government.
The changes are considered to give Putin, 67, the possibility of extending his control over power once he leaves the presidency in 2024. He has dominated Russian politics, as president or prime minister, for two decades.
The sudden and radical revision cements Putin’s control over the transition process and some see it as an attempt to reduce internal struggles within the clan from now until 2024.
The abrupt departure of the Medvedev government also allows Putin to demonstrate that he is responding to public discontent after years of tightening his belt and an unpopular rise in the age of pensions.
Medvedev, head of the government since 2012, has been a lightning rod for Russian frustrations, as he has acted as administrator of an economy hit by a recession in 2014-16, Western sanctions and fluctuations in the price of oil, the vital blood of Russia .
Real wages have been falling for five years and have gradually eroded the government’s popularity ratings, increasing the possibility that they may begin to bleed into Putin’s own ratings, analysts and critics of the Kremlin said.
That was seen as a concern for the Kremlin before next year’s parliamentary elections and as something that could make a smooth transition for Putin more difficult to achieve.
“There were great suspicions that if this stagnation continued and everything remained as it was, then the composition of the new [parliament] it would be considerably less friendly with the Kremlin, “said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Financial Group.
Putin to “rule for life”?
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed an important review of the government’s roles. (AP: Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Critics have long accused Putin, a former KGB officer, of planning to remain in a certain capacity after he ends his term to continue exercising power over the world’s largest nation, which is also one of its two main nuclear powers
The constitutional reform proposals, which he presented on Wednesday (local time) and suggested that they should undergo a referendum, would give him the option of assuming an improved role as prime minister after 2024 or a new role as head of the State Council, a official body that said it was willing to build.
Opposition politician Leonid Volkov said it seemed that Putin was investigating.
“It is clear to everyone that everything goes exclusively to Putin’s configuration to rule for life,” he wrote on social media.
On Thursday, the Kommersant business newspaper called Putin’s shake “the January revolution.” The proposals seemed the beginning of many more changes to come, the newspaper said.
Under the current constitution, which establishes a maximum of two successive terms, Putin is forbidden to run immediately for the presidency in 2024, but his supporters find it difficult to imagine Russian political life without him.
Putin remains popular among many Russians who see him as a welcome source of stability, even when others complain that he has been in power for too long and that his pensions and living standards are constantly being eroded.
Government and policy,
Politic and government,