Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on January 15, 2020.

Alexey Nikolskhy | AFP | Getty Images

Russia’s government has resigned to make way for major new constitutional changes in the country, according to the state news agency who cited Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Without giving much detail, the news agency said President Vladimir Putin had thanked Medvedev’s government for its work. The move has been reportedly made so Putin can carry out sweeping constitutional changes he spoke about at his annual address just hours beforehand.

“For my part, I also want to thank you for everything that was done at this stage of our joint work, I want to express satisfaction with the results that have been achieved,” the president told a meeting of ministers, according to TASS.

“Not everything was done, but everything never works out in full,” Putin said.

The news comes shortly after Putin‘s annual address to lawmakers. The Russian leader proposed a national vote on constitutional changes that would push power toward the prime minister and the parliament, and away from the presidency. It’s seen as potentially limiting the power of Putin’s successor if he steps down in 2024.

“After those amendments are adopted … there will be significant changes not only to a variety of constitution articles, but to the balance of power, namely to the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power,” the prime minister said, according to TASS.

‘Reach out to the West’

Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, said the changes could be seen as Putin trying to refresh things with a new prime minister and government.

“(They’ll be) more focus on reform, and improving the effectiveness of government to deliver growth and improving living standards,” Ash said in a research note immediately after the news.

“Many people thought Putin would do this after presidential elections, but he gave Medvedev a bit more time,” he added.

Ash said that Russian Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin was a possible name for new prime minister, but added that there would be no changes in terms of Putin still holding power in Moscow.

“I think all this is a response to opinion polls reflecting popular dissatisfaction with government and their lots in life, and ebbing support even for Putin,” Ash noted. In terms of timing, Putin has waited until what he sees as the external risks from sanctions moderating. He will sell this new, fresh government as part of a fresh start/reach out to the West.”

The dollar pushed higher against the ruble following the news, with the greenback up 0.4% on the Russian currency for the session.

This is a breaking news story, please check back later for more.

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