Russia gets new Premier after Putin bombshell

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 17 Jan 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin's new prime minister promised "real changes" yesterday as he was approved by lawmakers after the Kremlin announced sweeping reform plans.

The lower house State Duma voted overwhelmingly to approve Mikhail Mishustin as premier, less than 24 hours after the political order was shaken by Putin's announcement of constitutional reforms and the resignation of the cabinet.

Mishustin, 53, called on parliament to work with him to urgently enact Putin's program. "People should already now be feeling real changes for the better," he said.

The naming of a new premier was one in a series of bombshell announcements that rocked Russia on Wednesday, when Putin said constitutional reform would change the country's balance of power and his longtime prime minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned along with the cabinet. Medvedev will now be deputy head of the Security Council, which Putin chairs.

Putin's current term as president ends in 2024 and observers say the 67-year-old could be laying the groundwork to assume a new position or remain in a powerful behind-the-scenes role.

In his state of the nation speech, Putin said he wanted more authority transferred to parliament from the president. He also called for the power of the State Council, an advisory body, to be expanded.

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