Russian Parliament Approves Mishustin for Prime Minister

RUSSIAN lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly approved Mikhail V. Mishustin as the new Prime Minister, elevating a little-known technocrat picked by President Vladimir V. Putin as part of an unexpected Kremlin shake-up.
Mischustin (53) has worked in the government since 1998 and has been the head of the Federal Tax Office since 2010.
Mishustin, former head of the Federal Tax Service, received 383 votes of 424 cast on Thursday in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament, with 41 abstentions coming from the Communist Party. The chamber, dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, is seen as having only a rubber-stamp role.
After the vote, Putin signed a decree formalizing Mishustin’s new role.
Putin on Wednesday proposed major changes to the Russian Constitution that would spread political power more evenly, away from the president to the Parliament, the State Council and other government institutions.
The proposed constitutional changes, Medvedev’s resignation and the selection of Mishustin were made swiftly in what resembled a carefully planned operation — one that left many analysts guessing about Putin’s intentions and his next moves.
Many speculated that Putin — who, under the Constitution, cannot run for president again in 2024 — was planning to take another position that would allow him to retain his grip on power. Others noted that the sequence of moves would keep his opponents off balance and short-circuit any talk of succession, ensuring that the president was not considered a lame duck.
Putin served two terms as President from 2000 to 2008 before moving to the Prime Minister’s position for four years to meet the term limit. Medvedev kept his seat warm and resigned after only one term of office so that his mentor could take back the top position in 2012. During his tenure, Medvedev increased the presidential term from four to six years.
Although Putin was still in charge during the presidency of Medvedev, he was not entirely satisfied with his performance. In particular, he criticised Medvedev’s decision to give the green light to the Western air campaign over Libya in 2011, which led to the overthrow and murder of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Medvedev’s decision to step down after a term of office to put Putin back in the presidency sparked massive protests in Moscow in 2011-2012, which was a major challenge for the Kremlin. Some of Putin’s employees suspected Medvedev’s helpers to encourage the protests. In his speech, Putin emphasised the need to change the constitution so that it clearly takes precedence over international law.
“The requirements of international law and the treaties and decisions of international bodies can only apply in Russian territory as long as they do not restrict human rights and freedoms and do not contradict the constitution,” he said.