Major announcements in this State of the Nation speech on Jan 15, 2020.
Here is a very brief summary to get the conversation started.
- The Medvedev government has resigned
- The little-known Mikhail Mishustin, former head of the tax service, has been appointed as PM. He is an AI-loving technocrat who reduced uncollected VAT from 20% to 1%.
- Source tells me FM Sergey Lavrov rumored to be permanently retiring.
- Parliament, not President, to now name the PM and Cabinet. The President won’t have veto powers.
- President limited to an absolute two terms, ruling out a “Putin after Putin.”
- Increase the role of the State Council and enshrine its advisory role in the Constitution.
- Constitutional changes to be confirmed by referendum.
- Russian law now formally superior to international law.
- Ban PMs, Ministers, governors, some mayors and judges, from having second citizenships of foreign residencies; moreover, Presidential candidates should have been resident in Russia for 25 years (previously 10 years) and never had a foreign citizenship. (This rules out a large proportion of Atlanticists and crypto-Atlanticists).
- Putin bemoaned continued fall in Russia’s fertility rates to 1.5 children per woman this year (up from post-Soviet peak of close to 1.8 in mid-2000s), setting 1.7 children per woman as the new target for 2024.
- Reaffirmed demographics as the first national priority.
- Maternity capital to be increased by further 150,000 rubles and constitute 616,617 rubles (≈$10,000) for a family with two children, to be annually indexed.
Some very tentative thoughts:
(1) I have long thought now that Putin’s end game is to transition into an overseeing “elder statesman” role, along the model of Lee Kuan Yew/PAP in Singapore [see 1, 2, 3]. This appears to be the final confirmation that this is happening.
(2) Questions about the succession revolved around (a) The Belarus variant, in which it effectively constitutes a new state with Russia, allowing Putin to become the supreme head of that state; (b) A constitutional reshuffle such as the one we’re seeing here. This question has also been answered.