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President Vladimir Putin has named Tax Service chief Mikhail Mishustin as Russia’s new prime minister, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The 53-year-old Mishustin has worked in the government since 1998 and kept a low profile while serving as the head of the Federal Tax Service since 2010.

The Russian leader made the appointment after he engineered a surprise shakeup of Russia’s leadership and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev submitted his resignation earlier in the day.

Putin proposed changes to the constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024. He emphasized that constitutional changes must be put to a vote in a nationwide referendum.

Medvedev resigned his post after Putin announced the proposed constitutional amendments. Putin kept his longtime ally in the Kremlin’s leadership structure, appointing him to the newly created post of deputy head of the presidential Security Council.

The shakeup sent shock waves through Russia’s political elites who were left pondering what Putin’s intentions were and speculating about future Cabinet appointments.

Medvedev has been prime minister for nearly eight years. After Putin’s first two terms ended in 2008, Medvedev served as a placeholder president from 2008 to 2012 and appointed his mentor as prime minister, although Putin continued to wield power. Under Medvedev, the constitution was amended to lengthen the president’s term from four years to six.

Medvedev said in televised comments that he needed to resign in light of Putin’s proposed changes in government.

Putin suggested amending the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and Cabinet members. The president currently holds the authority to make those appointments. . . .

Putin has been in power longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin, who led from 1924 until his death in 1953. He will have to step down in 2024 after his term ends under the current law, which limits the president to two consecutive terms. . . .

In his speech, Putin emphasized the need to amend the constitution to give it a clear priority over international law.

“The requirements of international law and treaties and decisions of international organs can only be valid on the territory of Russia as long as they don’t restrict human rights and freedoms and don’t contradict the constitution,” he said.

He also said that the constitution must be tweaked to say that top government officials aren’t allowed to have foreign citizenship or residence permits.

Putin in his address vowed to encourage population growth by offering additional subsidies to families that have children.

He said that Russia would remain open for cooperation with all countries while maintaining a strong defense capability to fend off potential threats.

“For the first time in history, we aren’t trying to catch up with anyone,” Putin said. “On the contrary, other leading nations are yet to develop the weapons that Russia already has.”

(Excerpt from CBN. )

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