Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the resignation of his entire government Wednesday, in response to sweeping constitutional changes proposed by President Vladimir Putin that some opponents fear would allow him to keep power after his presidency ends.
Medvedev, who has served as prime minister since 2012 following a four-year stint as president, said it's appropriate for his government to step down to clear the way for Putin's plan.
"In this context, it is evident that we, as the government of the Russian Federation, should provide our country's president with an opportunity to take all the necessary decisions in these conditions," Medvedev said. "I believe it right for the government of the Russian Federation to step down in conformity with Article 117 of Russia's Constitution."
Putin accepted the resignation and asked the remaining government ministers to function as a caretaker government until a new one is formed. The Kremlin leader suggested Mikhail Mishustin, head of Russia's Federal Tax Service, to replace Medvedev as prime minister.
Wednesday's resignations came shortly after the Russian leader delivered his annual state-of-the-nation speech, in which he proposed a national referendum to limit future presidents to two terms in office. Putin has served four non-contiguous terms; his current term expires in 2024.
Putin also proposed amendments to allow lawmakers to choose candidates for prime minister and the cabinet. Those provisions would provide an avenue for Putin to maintain power by moving back to the prime minister's office or another key government post.
Political analysts have long questioned what would happen when Putin's term ends,as he's barred from continuing in office.