It came as the biggest shock of the day on Wednesday. The Russian government resigned. The day before President Vladimir Putin gave his State of the Nation address and outlined a slate of constitutional changes.
That speech prompted an overhaul of Russia’s government.
Putin’s plan is to devolve some of the President’s overwhelming power to the legislature and the State Council, while beefing up the Constitutional Court’s ability to provide checks on legislation.
In Wednesday’s State of the Nation Address, Putin put forward a number of initiatives changing the framework of power structures at all levels, from municipal authorities to the president. The initiatives particularly stipulate that the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, including the Constitutional Court, will be expanded. The president also proposed to expand the role of the Russian State Council. Putin suggested giving the State Duma (the lower house of parliament) the right to approve the appointment of the country’s prime minister, deputy prime ministers and ministers.
The bigger shock was that in response to this Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev dissolved the current government willingly and resigned as Prime Minister.
Within hours Putin recommended Federal Tax Service chief, Mikhail Mishustin as Prime Minister. The State Duma approved Putin’s recommendation and Mishustin was sworn in by Putin all within a day.
While this came on suddenly it also shouldn’t be a surprise. These changes have been discussed for months leading up to Putin’s speech. And it’s been clear for the past few years that Putin has been engaged in the second phase of his long-term plan to first rebuild and then remake Russia during his time in office.
The first phase was rescuing Russia from economic, societal and demographic collapse. It was in serious danger of this when Putin took over from Boris Yeltsin.
It meant regaining control over strategic state resources, rebuilding Russia’s economy and defense, stabilizing its population, getting some semblance of political control within the Kremlin and bringing hope back to a country in desperate need of it.
Hostile analysts, both domestic and foreign, criticized Putin constantly for his tactics. Russia’s reliance on its base commodities sectors to revive its economy was seen as a structural weakness. But, an honest assessment of the situation begs the question, “How else was Putin going to back Russia away from the edge of that abyss?”
These same experts never seem to have an answer.
And when those critics were able to answer, since they were people connected to monied interests in the West who Putin stymied from continuing to loot Russia’s natural wealth, their answer was usually to keep doing that.
Don’t kid yourself, most of the so-called Russia experts out there are deeply tied back to Wall St. through one William Browder and his partner-in-crime Mikhail Khordokovsky.
Nearly all of them in the U.S. Senate are severely compromised or just garden variety neocons still hell-bent on subjugating Russia to their hegemonic plans.
Their voices should be discounted heavily since they are the same criminals actively destroying U.S. and European politics today.
In the West these events were spun to suggest Putin is consolidating power. The initial reports were that he would remove the restraint on Presidential service of two consecutive terms. And that this would pave the way to his staying in office after his current term expires in 2024.
That, as always when regarding Russia, is the opposite of the truth. Putin’s recommendation is to remove the word “consecutive” from the Constitution making it clear that a President can only ever serve two terms. Moreover, that president will have had to have lived in Russia for the previous 25 years.
No one will be allowed to rule Russia like he has after he departs the office. Because Putin understands that the Russian presidency under the current constitution is far to powerful and leaves the country vulnerable to a man who isn’t a patriot being corrupted by that power.
There are a number of issues that most commentators and analysts in the West do not understand about Putin. Their insistence on presenting Putin only in the worst possible terms is tired and nonsensical to anyone who spends even a cursory amount of time studying him.
These events of the past couple of days in Russia are the end result of years of work on Putin’s part to purge the Russian government and the Kremlin of what The Saker calls The Atlanticist Fifth Column.
And they have been dug in like ticks in a corrupt bureaucracy that has taken Putin the better part of twenty years to tame.
It’s been a long and difficult road that even I only understand the surface details of. But it’s clear that beginning in 2012 or so, Putin began making the shift towards the next phase of Russia’s strategic comeback.
And that second phase is about taking a stable Russia and elevating its institutions to a more sustainable model.
Once birth rates improved and demographic collapse averted the next thing to do was to reform an economy rightly criticized for being too heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues.
And that is a much tougher task. It meant getting control over the Russian central bank and the financial sector. Putin was given that opportunity during the downturn in oil prices in 2014.
Using the crisis as an opportunity Putin began the decoupling of Russia’s economy from the West. During the early boom years of his Presidency oil revenue strengthened both the Russian state coffers and the so-called oligarchs who Putin was actively fighting for control.
He warned the CEO’s of Gazprom, Rosneft and Sberbank that they were too heavily exposed to the U.S. dollar this way in the years leading up to the crash in oil prices in 2014-16.
And when the U.S. sanctioned Russia in 2014 over the reunification with Crimea these firms all had to come to Putin for a bailout. Their dollar-denominated debt was swapped out for euro and ruble debt through the Bank of Russia and he instructed the central bank to allow the ruble to fall, to stop defending it.