The unexpected move gave President Vladimir V. Putin new leeway to reshape the Kremlin and fueled speculation about his plans when his term ends in 2024.
Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and his government resigned unexpectedly on Wednesday, the news agency Tass reported, giving President Vladimir V. Putin new leeway to reshape the Kremlin to his liking and put loyalists in positions of power.
The news came just after Mr. Putin had called for a national referendum on amending the Russian Constitution to expand the powers of Parliament and a body called the state council, which currently has little weight. That move fueled speculation about what plans Mr. Putin was making to retain his hold on power after his term ends in 2024.
The Constitution limits a president to two consecutive terms, meaning that without a change, Mr. Putin would have to step down at that time.
The last time Mr. Putin faced the two-term limit, in 2008, Mr. Medvedev was elected president and Mr. Putin became prime minister, though he remained the real power in the government. Mr. Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, and Mr. Medvedev became prime minister.
Mr. Putin, who has hinted at staying in power beyond 2024, could be planning a similar move, becoming a newly empowered prime minister or head of the state council. But he offered few details on Wednesday about the changes he was seeking and gave no hint of his own plans.
Mr. Medvedev announced the resignation in a televised meeting with Mr. Putin, saying that he thought it was the right move in light of the proposed constitutional changes.
When Mr. Medvedev held the presidency, he and his patron were not always in sync, to the annoyance of Mr. Putin, who undid several of his measures.
In particular, Mr. Putin was angry that Mr. Medvedev had declined to use a United Nations veto in 2011 to block airstrikes against Libya, attacks that helped topple the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
Source: The New York Times