It doesn't look like Vladimir Putin plans on giving up power in Russia for a long, long time. Two big developments in Moscow on Wednesday are seen as the first steps in Putin's plan to stay in control even when his fourth presidential term expires in 2024. By law, Putin cannot run again. But Reuters reports that he began laying the groundwork to avoid relinquishing power in 2024—power he has held since 1999 as either president or prime minister. In his annual state-of-the-nation address, Putin proposed changing the constitution to limit the power of his presidential successor and give more power to the prime minister, suggesting he intends to return in a "beefed-up role" as prime minister or in some other as-yet unspecified role, per the Guardian.
A big part of Wednesday's proposed shakeup: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a longtime Putin ally, resigned as prime minister after Putin's speech "to give Putin room to carry out his changes," per Reuters. As part of his proposals, Putin wants to give more power to parliament and the state council so that they, and not the president, would name the nation's prime minister. Another possibility is that Putin would assume a different role in the state council after his presidency, but the end result would be the same. "This is all about how to influence the prerogatives of the future president,” Tatiana Stanovaya, head of the think tank R. Politik, tells the Washington Post. "Putin would like to have some leverage, some mechanism to control and to get involved in case his successor makes mistakes or has some disagreements with him.” (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)