Moscow (dpa) - For Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, it must be the most painful decision in these times of crisis in Russia. After a long journey together, the 67-year-old separates from his political foster son Dmitri Medwedew.
The 54-year-old was allowed to move to Putin's presidency in 2008 and then had to clear the throne in 2012 after just one term. As controversial as castling for Putin's return was at that time, it was always clear that Putin would never forget Medvedev.
This is probably one of the reasons why Medvedev stayed on the job for so long despite the economic crisis and allegations of corruption. However, many Russians, especially the government, have blamed the many problems in the country for years.
Putin had repeatedly rejected demands for a change of government. He always emphasized that the problem was not the government, but the circumstances - and the cabinet simply had to work hard. All the greater the sensation. After speaking to the nation, Putin met Medvedev - who announced his resignation and that of the cabinet shortly thereafter. He wanted to give the President a free hand to initiate the necessary changes. Medvedev has long had a reputation for being neither assertive nor decisive.
In Russia there is a long tradition that in the event of great dissatisfaction in society, the head of government must first vacate his post. However, hardly anyone believed that Putin could ever drop loyal Medvedev. The two know each other from their time together in St. Petersburg, where they worked together in the city administration in the 1990s. Putin made Medvedev the head of the presidential administration and finally the deputy prime minister and presidential candidate.
As a consolation, Medvedev is now to become the deputy head of the Russian Security Council. We are looking for a new head of government to judge. In the past, there was repeated trading for the post Alexei Kudrin, a proven economic expert.
The 59-year-old was Minister of Finance from 2000 to 2011 and most recently, as head of the Russian Court of Auditors, repeatedly made public grievances in dealing with government finances. He is also one of the few politicians in Russia who publicly venture criticism and denounce grievances.
It remains to be seen whether Kudrin, who has been fought by the Falcons in the Kremlin because of his liberal views, will prevail. Like no other, the high-profile politician has recently made concrete proposals to combat widespread poverty.
That was also one of the core themes of Putin's Wednesday address to the nation, which heralded the resignation. The astonishingly early date for the speech had caused some observers to pay attention. The resignation came as a surprise to the Russian population. Medvedev's cabinet accepted her motionless, as could be seen on television pictures.
Over the past few months, the cabinet has passed out staring at surveys that point to growing discontent among the population - and pressure to change. In addition, the Kremlin did not miss the allegations of corruption published by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. A video clip about Medvedev's riches had more than 33 million views on YouTube on Wednesday. Navalny had shot himself not only at Medvedev, but above all at him. After the recent raids by masked security forces in his Moscow anti-corruption fund, he accused Medvedev of wanting to prevent further revelations.
Navalny’s team still etched Wednesday against Medvedev during Putin's speech on the state of the nation: the apparently sleeping prime minister was the only stable one in Russia. In fact, he was repeatedly seen with his eyes closed in presidential speeches. The anti-corruption fighters later announced that they were ready for the new head of government and his cabinet. Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin was among the possible successors in political Moscow.
The fact that Putin unexpectedly pulled the political pull cord at the start of the new year once again raised questions about his own political future. After Putin's announced changes to the constitution - as suggested by Vyacheslav Wolodin and Kudrin - the powers should be distributed differently in the future. For strengthening parliament and government. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next year in Russia.
But at least the opposition around Navalny did not have any illusions. There are no further signs that Putin will leave the political stage in Russia after the end of his last term in office in 2024. A successor for him is not in sight. But a head of government has always been a possible candidate for the highest office in the Russian state. "Putin ... remains the sole leader for life, who has plundered an entire country and secured wealth for himself and his friends," said Nawalny in the short message service Twitter.
Kremlin resignation information (Russian)