Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and his government resigned unexpectedly on Wednesday, the news agency Tass reported, giving President Vladimir Putin new leeway to reshape the Kremlin to his liking and put loyalists in positions of power.
The news came just after Putin had called for a national referendum on amending the Russian Constitution to expand the powers of Parliament and a body called the state council, which currently has little weight. That move fueled speculation about Putin’s plans when his term ends in 2024.
The Constitution limits a president to two consecutive terms, meaning that without a change, Putin would have to step down at that time.
The last time Putin faced the two-term limit, in 2008, Medvedev was elected president and Putin became prime minister, though he remained the real power in the government. Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, and Medvedev became prime minister.
Putin, who has hinted at staying in power beyond 2024, could be planning a similar move, becoming a newly empowered prime minister or head of the state council. But he offered few details on Wednesday about the changes he was seeking and gave no hint of his own plans.