Russian government resigns as Putin plans future

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Russia’s government has resigned, hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that could prolong his stay in power. PM Dmitry Medvedev said the president’s proposals would significantly change Russia’s balance of power.

Mr Putin asked Mr Medvedev to become deputy head of the National Security Council, which is chaired by Mr Putin. The unexpected announcement comes four years before Mr Putin’s fourth term of office is due to end.

Under the existing constitution he would not be entitled to another term and the Russian leader said during his speech to both chambers of parliament that there would be a nationwide vote on changes that would shift power from the presidency to parliament.

Russian government sources told the BBC that ministers did not know about the government’s resignation ahead of the announcement. “It was a complete surprise,” one source said.

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