MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin engineered a surprise shake-up of Russia’s leadership Wednesday, proposing changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024.
Hours after he made the proposals, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned and Putin named the little-known head of Russia’s tax service to replace him.
Putin kept his longtime ally Medvedev in the Kremlin’s leadership structure by appointing him to the newly created post of deputy head of the presidential Security Council. But the duties and influence of that position are unclear.
Putin’s proposed constitutional reforms, announced in a state of the nation address, indicated he was working to carve out a new governing position for himself after his term ends, although the suggested changes don’t immediately specify what path he will take to stay in charge.
The 67-year-old former KGB operative, who has led Russia for more than 20 years, often keeps his intentions secret until the very last moment.