After the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev and his cabinet, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin introduced new Russian cabinet in the presence of Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has been in office for almost 16 years, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will continue to work in the new government. Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev also remains. However, numerous positions were filled. The new government is “very balanced and seriously renewed,” said Putin.
Mishustin said that there were major tasks ahead of the country that the new Russian cabinet had to deal with. The standard of living, income, health care and business climate should improve quickly, he emphasized. Andrey Belousov became the first deputy head of government – along with eight other representatives of Mishustin.
Dmitry Medvedev resigned as head of government and cabinet last week. In the midst of great discontent among the people about the economic situation in the country and lousy poll values, he had justified the step by giving President Putin a free hand for the planned reforms in the country. This also includes a constitutional amendment. Medvedev will be Putin’s deputy chief in the Russian Security Council.
Numerous new members in Russian cabinet
Among the new members of the Russian cabinet are Minister of Economic Affairs Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Justice Konstantin Chujchenko and Minister of Sport Oleg Matyzin. The 55-year-old Matyzin is also the chairman of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The former table tennis professional replaces Pavel Kolobkow and will also have to deal with the sanctions of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) for Russian state doping.
Wada plans to exclude Russia from the Tokyo Olympics this year and Beijing in 2022. Russia is suing the international sports court in Lausanne.
The Minister of Culture, Vladimir Medinski, who was extremely unpopular with artists due to his ultra-conservative and church-related politics, was also replaced. Olga Ljubimowa, a theater scientist and film expert, will take on his post.
Duma will discuss constitutional changes on Thursday
Putin had recently made it clear that the country was facing changes. Above all, a constitutional change that he has planned will cause discussion. It is to be discussed this Thursday in parliament – the State Duma. The project was ripe for the first of three readings, the Duma constitutional committee said.
Dozens of changes are planned, for example, a president should only be allowed to serve a maximum of two terms. So far, two terms in succession have been allowed. After a break, the return was possible – as with Putin, who had been head of government from 2008 to 2012. For the first time, the role of the State Council, which was formed in 2000, is to be anchored in the constitution as another center of power alongside the President. The constitutional change is controversial. Experts wonder what Putin is up to.
Parts of the opposition speak of a new special operation such as the annexation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula Crimea in 2014 and a “coup” by Putin. When asked why Putin was in such a hurry to change the constitution, his spokesman Dmitri Peskov told the Interfax agency that the President’s plans would be given priority.
The opposition has called for protests against the new constitution. But she can hardly keep up with the pace of the president. The draft also envisages a reduction in the number of constitutional judges. In addition, for the first time it should be stipulated that judgments by international courts – such as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg – will no longer be implemented if they contradict the Russian constitution.
Despite differing interpretations of the draft, the majority of observers assumed that the constitutional change would ensure that Putin would remain in power beyond 2024. Then, according to the current constitution, his last term in office ends. An earlier amendment said that it did not apply retrospectively. Accordingly, possible new terms of office could apply to Putin from the beginning. It would also be conceivable that he continues to hold the scepter of power in his hand as the head of the State Council.