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How Putin’s shock government shake-up could help him hold onto power indefinitely

Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a major constitutional overhaul in a shocking move many believe may allow him to hold onto power after he leaves the presidency in 2024.

All of Russia’s parliamentarians resigned just hours after Putin announced plans for constitutional amendments which would increase the power of prime ministers and cabinet members, and shift power away from the president.

The move comes after almost three decades of consistent policy strengthening the role of the president.

Putin is ineligible to run for president in the 2024 election, as the Russian constitution stipulates no candidate can hold the position for more than two consecutive terms.

But analysts believe the shift of power may allow Putin to retain power for life after stepping down as president.

“This is clearly part of the handover of power to a post-Putin situation,” Russian historian at the University of Melbourne, Professor Mark Edele, told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“From Putin’s personal perspective his problem is that he’s an extremely powerful man who has a lot of enemies. He’s also an extremely rich man and presumably he wants to keep his freedom and his wealth after he stops being president.”

After his presidency Putin will retain his position as Chairman of the State Council, and many have interpreted the reshuffling as a beefing up of the council’s power to allow him to hold on to his influence indefinitely.

“The more sinister interpretation is that the State Council becomes the thing which is pulling strings behind the scenes,” Mr Edele said.

But a more benevolent reason for the shift of power within the Russian political system has also been suggested.

“The benevolent interpretation is … that he’s realised this is not a sustainable kind of political system, with all this power invested in one person, and he’s trying to create a more normal situation before he retires,” Mr Edele explained.

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Image: Bloomberg/Getty