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15 January 2020 16:40

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Russia's government resigns as President Putin proposes changes to the constitution

Russia's government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that could prolong his stay in power. PM Dmitry Medvedev said the president's proposals would significantly change Russia's balance of power. Under the existing constitution he would not be entitled to another term and the Russian leader said during his speech to both chambers of parliament that there would be a nationwide vote on changes that would shift power from the presidency to parliament. MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's government unexpectedly resigned on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that could allow him to extend his rule. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on screen as he delivers his annual state of the nation address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia January 15, 2020.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he was stepping down to give Putin room to carry out the changes, which, if implemented, would shift power to parliament and the prime minister - and might thus allow Putin, 67, to rule on in another capacity after his current term ends in 2024. Medvedev, a long-time Putin ally and former president, announced his resignation on state TV sitting next to Putin, who thanked him for his work. Putin told Russia's political elite in his annual state-of-the-nation speech that he favoured changing the constitution to hand the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, the power to choose the prime minister and other key positions. Russia's government resigns as President Putin proposes changes to the constitution Russia's government has resigned to allow President Vladimir Putin to make sweeping constitutional changes which could allow him to remain in power after his current term. Image: Vladimir Putin has asked Dmitry Medvedev (R) to stay until the new cabinet is formed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev quit hours after Mr Putin proposed a reform of powers of parliament and the cabinet.

Image: Dmitry Medvedev has submitted his resignation to President Vladimir Putin Speaking in his state of the nation address, Mr Putin suggested amending the constitution to allow politicians to name prime ministers and cabinet members. He said: "It will increase the role of parliament and parliamentary parties, powers and independence of the prime minister and all cabinet members". Mr Medvedev replaced him as president, before they switched roles in 2012 - and while in office, the prime minister raised the presidential term from four to six years. Some experts claim Mr Putin could remain in charge after 2024 by returning as prime minister after making his proposed constitutional changes, including trimming the president's authority. Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that his government has submitted its resignation.

Medvedev said the decision was to allow President Vladimir Putin to make key constitutional changes. The Russian President thanked Medvedev, a close ally, for his work following the resignation. Mr Medvedev, a long-time close associate of Mr Putin's, has served as Russia's prime minister since 2012. The move came after Vladimir Putin earlier proposed a flurry of constitutional changes in what could be seen to be an attempt to pave the way for him to stay on after his presidential term expires in 2024. Prime Minister Medvedev announced the government's resignation on Wednesday During Putin's annual state-of-the-nation speech, the Russian President called for broad changes to the constitution.

In an address to Russia's Federal Assembly, Putin hinted the effective lower house of parliament, should be given the right to name cabinet ministers and the prime minister, a power that currently belongs to the president. Commenting on the resignation of Medvedev and the Russian government, Adeline Van Houtte, Europe Analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said the move would allow "Putin to be able to choose loyalists that he will put in power positions in his new government". Adeline Van Houtte said: "The Russian government has resigned following an unexpected speech by the head of state Vladimir Putin announcing constitutional reforms, which would increase the powers of the Prime Minister and cabinet members in Russia. Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev unexpectedly submitted his government's resignation on Friday, allowing Vladimir Putin an opportunity to reshuffle his top team. 20 years of Putin 1/21 1999 Russian President Boris Yeltsin (R) poses with the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexei II (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) at the Kremlin in Moscow 31 December 1999.

Getty Images 1/21 1999 Russian President Boris Yeltsin (R) poses with the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Alexei II (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) at the Kremlin in Moscow 31 December 1999. Yeltsin announced 31 December 1999 that he was resigning immediately and that Putin, according to the Russian constitution, would run the country as acting president until presidential elections in March 2000. AFP/Getty Images 4/21 2002 British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) discuss as they walk in the residence of Zavidovo, in the Tver region, some 120 km north-west of Moscow, as Cherie Blair (C) and Lyudmila Putina (not pictured) follow them 11 October 2002. AFP/Getty Images 5/21 2003 Russian President Vladimir Putin is accompanied by Her Majesty The Queen during a procession at The Mallat during the start iof his state visit on June 24, 2003 in London, England. AFP/Getty Images 7/21 2005 Russian President Vladimir Putin seen during the recording of his annual televised New Year's message at the Kremlin, with the Spassky Tower in the background, in Moscow, recorded early, 29 December 2005. The award, which is not considered an honor so much as a recognition of the most powerful forces shaping the world, was awarded for Putin's role in reshaping a country that Time's Managing Editor Richard Stengel said had "fallen off our mental map." AFP/Getty Images 10/21 2008 Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) stands next to Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi during the signing of agreements between the two countries April 17, 2008 in Tripoli, Libya. AFP/Getty Images 21/21 Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, meets Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, during a bilateral meeting on the first day of the G20 summit on June 28, 2019 in Osaka, Japan.