World media on Russian government resignation

World media on Russian government resignation

The Russian government resignation and appointment of Mikhail Mishustin as Prime Minister became one of the most discussed topics in the world media.

German Deutsche Welle writes that the announcement came as a surprise, although observers had expected something along these lines for a while. Putin's plans, amplified by Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's resignation mere hours after the speech, sent a shock wave through Russia's political establishment. According to DW, a new political chapter has begun for him, and for Russia as well. For now, he is in a strong position to cement his hold on power for many years to come.

Forbes cites the opinion of Stratfor global analyst  Sim Tack saying that Vladimir Putin needed a new government to continue Russia's political course, which he had begun earlier. ”We appear to be seeing the start of a shift from the personality-based rule of Putin toward a more systemic power structure,” Tack says. The U.S. dollar rose against the ruble following the news, up by 0.4% on the Russian currency so far, Forbes notes.

Reuters also notes the financial consequences of the Russian news. Medvedev’s resignation took Russian markets by surprise. The rouble and stocks suffered sharp losses before rebounding to make gains amid the uncertainty. The rouble dropped to 61.81 to the dollar after the news reports about the government but soon regained ground to stand little changed. Against the euro, the rouble briefly dropped to 68.86, but recovered to stand 0.3% higher at 68.58. Back to the political agenda, ”an attempt by Putin to shake up Russia’s polity and refocus the administration on implementing the president’s well-telegraphed but slowly progressing public spending program”, Reuters writes. 

US CNBC writes that Putin trying to refresh things with a new prime minister and government. According to Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, ″(They’ll be) more focus on reform, and improving the effectiveness of government to deliver growth and improving living standards. Many people thought Putin would do this after presidential elections, but he gave Medvedev a bit more time”. According to Ash, all this is a response to opinion polls reflecting popular dissatisfaction with government and their lots in life, and ebbing support even for Putin. 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.

Qatar’s Al Jazeera notes that these changes do indicate a change in power structures, but at the same time, they do keep the president very strong. It is also unclear whether Mishustin is a temporary figure or could be groomed as Putin's successor.

In the context of the Russian government resignation and message of the President, CNN writes about Russian-Chinese relations, in particular, compares the changes that are taking place with the reforms that Chinese leader Xi Jinping carried out in 2018. Then term limits on the presidency were dropped. At present, however, for all Putin may aspire to adopt the Xi model in Moscow, he will have to tread carefully, the news channel concludes.

Dhaka Tribune compares recent events in Russia with last year’s decision by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to resign, but remain as a head of the ruling party and "people's leader”. According to the authors of the article What is Putin up to with surprise political shake-up? While his approval ratings still hover around 70%, Putin seems to have understood that many Russians are displeased. Putin was re-elected with a sweeping majority in 2018, but his approval ratings dropped after an unpopular pension reform. Parliamentary elections are due in 2021 and polls show the ruling United Russia party is poorly supported by Russians. The government reshuffle should revitalize and rectify the current situation.

Japanese Nikkei Asian Review writes that Putin is advancing the idea of keeping his authority as a more powerful and influential prime minister while the presidency will become more decorative. Observers speculated that Putin may stay in charge after 2024 by shifting into the prime minister's seat after increasing the powers of parliament and the Cabinet and trimming presidential authority. Other potential options include a merger with neighboring Belarus that would create a new position of the head of a new unified state — a prospect rejected by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.


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