2020.01.16 11:49

Putin's reforms only ‘illusion’ of change – Lithuanian FM

BNS2020.01.16 11:49

Proposed constitutional amendments in Russia and the surprise government resignation will not bring actual change, Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius believes.

“All these reshuffles create an illusion, and give hope to some that something will change [...], but I don't think this is going to change anything,” the minister told the Žinių Radijas radio on Thursday, commenting on the resignation of the Russian government.

“It may be called a different geometric shape, if not the pyramid of power, but it will remain the same. There are no preconditions for change yet,” he added.

In his annual address on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional amendments giving more powers to the country's parliament. Soon after the speech, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev handed in his government's resignation.

Linkevičius said the governmental and constitutional changes “are an internal matter of Russia”.

“What's important for us is that Russia change its foreign policy, its attitude towards other countries, its neighbours, and its declared values, such as democracy, the rule of law, non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, which is not happening in practice. This is what we care more about,” the minister said.

“It would be premature to draw conclusions that anything will change in this area,” he added.

According to Linkevičius, it appears that the proposed constitutional changes are aimed primarily at dealing with doemstic situation in Russia.

“These changes will give people some hope, because their threshold of patience isn't infinitely high,” the minister said.

“The situation [in Russia] is far from simple, the defence spending is growing rapidly [...] and social programmes stalling. Apparently, changes are needed internally, and an impression that something is changing [is needed] externally,” he added.

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev's government announced its resignation on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin proposed a referendum on a package of constitutional reforms.

Mikhail Mishustin, the 53-year-old head of Russia's tax service, was nominated as the next prime minister.

The proposed constitutional reforms would strengthen the role of the parliament, including giving the legislature the power to name prime ministers and senior cabinet members, decisions that are currently made by the president.

Many believe that Putin could be laying the groundwork to remain in power after 2024 when his fourth presidential term ends.