Vladimir Putin announced in his annual state of the nation address on Tuesday plans to reform Russia’s constitution to transfer more power over the selection of the Prime Minister from the President to Parliament. But former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov warned the move could lead to President Putin securing the two-term presidential limit is removed to stay in power “forever.” Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, Mr Kasyanov said: “Putin said there should be a wide public discussion and during the discussion, I’m sure, there will be voices suggesting to delete the rules on two consecutive terms.
“It would allow Putin to run for president forever.”
Mr Kasyanov continued: “The major message out of this address was that Putin stays forever.
“Secondly, presidential powers should be increased. And, thirdly, the people will see some kind of increase in social spending plus be able to see all the discussions in Parliament before the nomination of ministers.”
He added: “My belief is that yesterday’s address was devoted to strengthening presidential power rather than weakening it.
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“Mr Putin would be the leader of the country and he will continue to be president of the country – the proposal he put forward yesterday are aimed at strengthening presidential power rather than transferring power to other bodies.
“The nomination of the Prime Minister is only a presidential right – no one else can nominate the office of Prime Minister.
“It means the presidential nominee could be appointed to be Prime Minister and, as a result, all the ministers.”
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, with whom President Putin exchanged role in 2012, announced the resignation of the Russian Government shortly after the announcement to facilitate the changes.
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President Putin also proposed constitutional changes aimed at limiting the supremacy of international law across Russia as well as strengthening rules keeping Russian politicians who held foreign citizenship or residency from running for president.
In a televised message announcing his resignation, Mr Medvedev said: “These changes, when they are adopted, will introduce substantial changes not only to an entire range of articles of the constitution but also to the entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of the judiciary.
“In that context, we, as the government of the Russian Federation, must provide our country’s president with an opportunity to make all necessary decisions and in these conditions, I think the government of the Russian Federation made the proper move to resign.”
Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Opposition as well as a chief critic of President Putin, claimed any attempt to hold a referendum on the proposed changes would be “fraudulent c**p*. He also claimed the Russian president put forward the plan to ensure he is “sole leader for life.”
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Local reports suggest the post of deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council has been introduced and offered to Medvedev.
President Putin is the chairman of the Security Council, and it includes 11 permanent members.
Emerging local reports suggest cabinet ministers were not informed about the imminent resignation of the government.
Mr Putin was first elected acting president after Boris Yeltsin was forced to resign following a severe financial crisis that crippled the economy.
He has since been elected President of the Russian Federation three times, in 1999, 2012 and 2018.