(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Russia’s tax service chief Mikhail Mishustin has been appointed Russia’s new prime minister, the Kremlin said.
It comes after Dmitri Medvedev resigned in a surprise move earlier on Wednesday.
That was in the aftermath of a state of the nation speech by President Vladimir Putin in which he proposed a constitutional overhaul, including increasing the powers of prime ministers and members of the cabinet.
Experts and critics said it was part of a move by Putin to weaken the role of the president before his term ends in 2024.
Russia’s president thanked Medvedev — who has been offered a new position as vice-chairman of the Security Council — for his service but said the government had not met its objectives.
Putin’s first stint as Russian president ran for eight years until 2008, before Medvedev took over for four years while his predecessor became prime minister. Medvedev then stepped aside to allow Putin to return as president in 2012.
“There are different options here, but in any case we can assume that this is the beginning of what we call the transit of power in Russia,” Yuliy Nisnevich, a political scientist at the Higher School of Economics, told Euronews.
“Perhaps it also speaks about the early resignation of the president.
“This is not a momentary whim, not a momentary decision. It has clearly been prepared, there is some kind of plan for the change of power.
“It’s hard to say which one.”
Political activist Alexei Navalny, a critic of Putin, tweeted: “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.”
Russian political expert Ivan Preobrazhensky said Medvedev had not been “formally downgraded” but rather “sidelined”.
“It means a complete restart of the system and perhaps the announcement of early elections in the near future,” he added.