JUST IN: Russia Prime Minister Medvedev resigns

The Russian government is to resign, hours after President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional changes that could prolong his stay in power.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the president’s proposals would significantly change Russia’s balance of power.

Mr. Putin has asked him to become deputy head of the National Security Council.

The 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.

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The government’s resignation came as a surprise. Mr Medvedev has been prime minister for several years. He previously served as president from 2008-2012, switching roles with Mr. Putin after the latter served his first two terms as president.

Russia’s constitution only allows presidents to serve two consecutive terms.

“These changes, when they are adopted… will introduce substantial changes not only to an entire range of articles of the constitution but also to the entire balance of power, the power of the executive, the power of the legislature, the power of the judiciary,” Mr. Medvedev said of Mr. Putin’s proposals.

“In this context… the government in its current form has resigned.”

BBC Moscow correspondent Sarah Rainsford said the reason why Mr. Putin had removed Mr. Medvedev was unclear.

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