Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced his resignation and that of a host of other senior officials during a televised address on Wednesday.
President Vladimir Putin, Medvedev’s longtime mentor and ally, praised the Prime Minister while noting that Medvedev’s cabinet failed to accomplish certain goals.
The resignation came just after Putin delivered his state of the nation address. In the speech, as reported by the Turkish paper The Daily Sabah, Putin argued for changes to Russia’s constitution to increase the authority of lawmakers to appoint prime ministers and cabinet members.
However, at the same time Putin asserted that Russia would not remain stable under a parliamentary system of government, and that the President should retain power to dismiss parliamentary appointments and remain in control of the country’s military and law enforcement bodies.
Putin’s current term ends in 2024, and under current law he must step down from the office. According to CNN, the proposed reforms would weaken Putin’s successor and shift power to parliament prime minister’s office, to which Putin may ultimately transfer.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny charged the changes were a ploy by the President to help him retain power even after he leaves office.
“The only goal of Putin and his regime is to stay in charge for life, having the entire country as his personal asset and seizing its riches for himself and his friends,” Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Putin has led Russia for over 20 years, longer than any Russian leader since Josef Stalin. From 2008 to 2012 Medvedev took up the post of president while Putin switched to prime minister, but Putin was widely understood to retain ultimate control over the government during that time.