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Russia’s Government Resigns As Putin Plans Constitutional Changes

Tsvetana Paraskova

Russia’s government, including Energy Minister Alexander Novak, resigned on Wednesday in an unexpected move after President Vladimir Putin said that he would be looking to make amendments to the Russian constitution.

Putin’s proposals for constitutional amendments include giving more powers to the Parliament.

In an address to the Russian Parliament earlier on Wednesday, Putin said that he wants to put the proposed constitutional amendments to a nationwide vote because the amendments would change the balance of powers and the political system, as well as the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches in Russia.

Putin’s push for constitutional amendments comes four years before his second consecutive and last—under the current Constitution—six-year term in office as president expires in 2024. According to the Russian constitution, a president cannot sit in office for more than two consecutive terms.  

Russia’s now outgoing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev switched roles with Putin in the 2008-2012 period, after which Putin returned to serve as president of Russia.

Medvedev tendered in the resignation of his whole government on Wednesday to allow the president room to prepare for the discussion of the constitutional amendments, the outgoing prime minister said at a meeting of the cabinet with Putin.

The outgoing ministers, including Energy Minister Novak, will serve as acting ministers until a new government is formed.

According to BBC’s correspondents, the possible candidates to replace Medvedev as prime minister include Novak, as well as the outgoing economy minister Maxim Oreshkin, and the mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin.

Whoever takes over Russia’s energy ministry, they will have to hold a communication channel open to OPEC and its leader Saudi Arabia, because Russia has been instrumental in the ongoing OPEC+ oil production cuts. Still, Russia’s energy policy in the global oil and gas markets will continue to be dictated by Putin.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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