Russian government resigns in Putin power shakeup

By Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 1:17 p.m. ET, January 15, 2020
8 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:18 p.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Putin has already nominated his pick for new PM

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Mikhail Mishustin in February 2019.
Mikhail Mishustin in February 2019. Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to install Mikhail Mishustin as prime minister after Dmitry Medvedev resigned from the position Wednesday along with the entire government.

"President Vladimir Putin held a working meeting with Mikhail Mishustin and invited him to take the post of prime minister," said the Kremlin press service, as reported by Russian state media agency RIA Novosti.

"With his consent, he submitted Mishustin’s candidacy for the post of prime minister for consideration by the State Duma."

Mishustin is the current head of the Federal Tax Service.

11:20 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Lots of unknowns in Putin's plan, says analyst

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have kickstarted a power shift in the country as the government resigned Wednesday, but the details of his plan remain unclear, according to Nikolai Petrov, senior research fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Program at Chatham House.

Petrov told CNN that these developments show Putin is planning on staying in power past 2024, but his speech revealed little else.

"The constitutional reform described by Putin in his address doesn't look very concrete," he said. "We need to wait until the dust settles."

10:37 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Opposition leader Navalny says Putin targeting "ownership of an entire country"

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a demonstration in Moscow in September 2019.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a demonstration in Moscow in September 2019. Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny poured scorn on those who said President Vladimir Putin would step down in 2024, following news that the entire government has resigned in a move that could symbolize a power shift in the country.

“[The] main message of Putin’s address: all those who said that Putin will step away from power in 2024 are such idiots (and/or crooks)," he wrote.

"Remaining the sole leader for life, taking ownership of an entire country, and appropriating wealth to himself and his friends is the only goal of Putin and his regime."

Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and Russia's most outspoken opposition figure.

In September Navalny's team said Russian authorities staged nationwide raids on the opposition leader's regional offices, and he has been physically attacked and detained by police in the past.

10:17 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Putin critic Bill Browder says president is "deeply afraid of something"

From CNN's Jack Guy, Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Laura Perez Maestro

American financier Bill Browder speaks in Oslo, Norway, in May 2019.
American financier Bill Browder speaks in Oslo, Norway, in May 2019. Julia Reinhart/Getty Images

Bill Browder, a prominent financial manager and vocal Vladimir Putin critic, suggested that the Russian president is "deeply afraid of something."

"Putin is extremely risk averse and almost never fires anyone," wrote Browder on Twitter.

"For him to sack the PM and change the constitution four years before his term is up suggests he’s deeply afraid of something. What that is, we have still to find out."

Chicago-born Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, an international investment fund.

He was once the largest investor in Russia's stock market and a supporter of the Russian President. But that all changed in 2005 when he was expelled from the country after being deemed a threat to national security.

Browder claims his expulsion was because of his criticism of Russian corporate governance.

In the years since, Browder has become a UK citizen and a fierce critic of corruption. He has been one of the main proponents of the Russia sanctions law in the US known as the Magnitsky Act -- named for his former lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in suspicious circumstances in 2009.

The Magnitsky Act, passed in 2012, provides US lawmakers with sweeping powers to freeze assets and place travel restrictions on foreign government officials involved in human-rights abuses.

9:58 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Putin thanks government, creates new post for PM Medvedev

From CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin sits down with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Wednesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sits down with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Wednesday. Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the government for its work in a televised statement following the announcement that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the rest of the government are resigning. 

"I want to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” Putin said. “Of course not everything worked out but nothing ever works out in full."

Putin asked members of the government to fulfill their duties until a new one is formed.

Medvedev is expected to take on the newly-created role of deputy head of Russia’s Security Council

“[Medvedev] has always dealt with these issues … I consider it possible and asked him to do so in the future,” Putin said.

"I will introduce the position of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council.”

9:53 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

PM Medvedev and entire Russian government resign

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin meet with members of the government in Moscow on Wednesday.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin meet with members of the government in Moscow on Wednesday. Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that he and the entire Russian government will resign in a televised statement on Russian state TV.

"Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] ... outlined a number of fundamental changes to the Constitution. Significant changes not only to a number of articles of the Constitution, but also to the balance of power as a whole," said Medvedev.

"In this context, it’s obvious that we, as the government ... should provide the president of our country with the opportunity to make all the decisions necessary for this. And in these conditions, I believe that it would be right, in accordance with Section 117 of the Constitution, the Government would be to resign,” he added.

Putin thanked members of the government their work but added that "not everything worked out.” 

The president said he will meet with each member of the cabinet in the near future.

10:40 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Putin ‘agrees’ no one should serve as president for more than two consecutive terms

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Putin is seen prior to a cabinet meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.
Putin is seen prior to a cabinet meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik/Pool/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he agrees that the same person should not serve as president for more than two consecutive terms, but doesn’t think it’s a “fundamental” issue.

“I know that a constitutional provision is being discussed in our society that the same person should not be president for more than two consecutive terms,” Putin said Wednesday during his address to the Federal Assembly. "I don’t think this is a fundamental issue, but I agree with that.”

The issue of constitutional change in Russia is watched closely amid speculation about Putin’s own political ambitions. 

In December, Putin said he is open to the possibility of altering country’s constitution, including proposals to increase parliament’s power and to limit the number of presidential terms anyone can serve. 

9:57 a.m. ET, January 15, 2020

Putin proposes power shift to prime minister and parliament

From CNN's Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

Putin addresses the State Council in Moscow on Wednesday.
Putin addresses the State Council in Moscow on Wednesday. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed several constitutional amendments Wednesday that could signal a power shift in the country.

Putin’s key proposal is to transfer the power to select the prime minister and cabinet from the president to the parliament, or duma.

“I propose… entrusting the State Duma with the power to approve the candidacy of the prime minister, and then, per the prime minister’s proposal, [appoint] all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers," Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly. 

“In this case, the president will be obliged to appoint them, that is, he will not have the right to reject parliament-approved candidacies."

According to the current constitution, the president needs to secure approval from the lower house of parliament to appoint the head of the government, and the president then has the right to appoint all deputies and ministers.

Handing the Russian parliament more power at the expense of presidential authority could signal a power shift that has been long speculated about in Russia. 

Putin’s critics have suggested that he is considering various scenarios to remain in power after 2024, including the option of becoming prime minister with extended powers.

In 2008 Putin swapped places with then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to circumvent the constitutional provision banning the same person from serving two consecutive terms.