Russian Parliament Approves Putin’s Pick for Prime Minister

Russian Parliament Approves Putin’s Pick for Prime Minister

MOSCOW — Russian lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly approved Mikhail V. Mishustin as the new Prime Minister, elevating a little-known technocrat picked by President Vladimir V. Putin as part of an unexpected Kremlin shake-up.

Mr. Putin on Wednesday proposed major changes to the Russian Constitution that would spread political power more evenly, away from the president to the Parliament, the State Council and other government institutions.

Many analysts saw the potential reordering of Russia’s political system, which surprised the country’s political elite, as an effort by Mr. Putin to ensure that he remains in power past 2024, when his term ends — though how exactly that would work remained unclear.

Shortly after Mr. Putin put forward the overhaul in his annual state of the nation address, his ally Dmitri A. Medvedev resigned as prime minister, saying that it would clear the way for the proposed constitutional changes. On Thursday, Mr. Putin appointed Mr. Medvedev deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, which advises the president.

Mr. Mishustin, former head of the Federal Tax Service, received 383 votes of 424 cast on Thursday in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, with 41 abstentions coming from the Communist Party. The chamber, dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, is seen as having only a rubber-stamp role.

After the vote, Mr. Putin signed a decree formalizing Mr. Mishustin’s new role.

The proposed constitutional changes, Mr. Medvedev’s resignation and the selection of Mr. Mishustin were made swiftly in what resembled a carefully planned operation — one that left many analysts guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions and his next moves.

Many speculated that Mr. Putin — who, under the Constitution, cannot run for president again in 2024 — was planning to take another position that would allow him to retain his grip on power. Others noted that the sequence of moves would keep his opponents off balance and short-circuit any talk of succession, ensuring that the president was not considered a lame duck.


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