January 16 (UPI) – Russian lawmaker appointed Mikhail Mishustin as the country’s next prime minister on Thursday for the first step in rebuilding the Moscow government, one day after a major shock caused by planned constitutional reforms.
Mishustin unanimously won the approval of Putin’s United Russia Party and the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, and confirmed him with 383-0 for the post, despite 41 legislators disagreeing.
Mishustin, head of the Moscow Federal Tax Service, was appointed Putin to succeed Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, who resigned after the Russian head of state outlined major changes to the Russian constitution in his annual State of the Union address.
Medvedev has been prime minister since 2012, after being president for four years and Putin serving as prime minister. Medvedev has been offered a position as deputy head of the Russian Security Council and will continue to hold the position of head of the United Russian Party.
The surprising resignation of Medvedev’s government immediately followed Putin’s speech on Wednesday. The proposed changes include a limited time limit for Russian presidents and the Duma’s authority to nominate prime minister candidates.
Many observers believe that Putin is implementing the changes to keep power, perhaps again as prime minister after his presidency ended in 2024.
Russian lawmakers will consider a national referendum on the changes on May 1, the state news agency Tass reported.