Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev on Wednesday announced that his government was resigning to give President Vladimir Putin room to carry out changes he wants to make to the constitution.
The resignation came shortly after President Putin delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address where he proposed a series of constitutional reforms to increase the powers of prime minister and Cabinet members.
Medvedev said Putin's proposals would make significant changes to the country's balance of power and so "the government in its current form has resigned.
Medvedev made the announcement on state TV sitting next to Putin who thanked Medvedev, a close ally, for his work. but noted that the prime minister's Cabinet failed to fulfill all the objectives set for it, Russian news agencies reported.
Russian media also said Putin plans to name Medvedev as deputy of the presidential Security Council.
Medvedev, a longtime close associate of Putin's, has served as Russia's prime minister since 2012. He spent four years before that as president in 2008-2012.
Accepting the resignation, Putin asked the ministers to function as a caretaker government until a new one is formed.
Before announcing the resignation of the cabinet, Medvedev met with Putin to discuss his state-of-the-nation address, which took place earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin's press office said.
Putin, earlier in his annual State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly, proposed a national referendum on amendments to the country's constitution to increase the powers of the parliament, making lawmakers responsible for choosing the prime minister and senior cabinet members.
"I consider it necessary to conduct a vote by the country's citizens on an entire package of proposed amendments to the country's constitution," stated Putin. "This will increase the role and significance of the country's parliament."
"We will be able to build a strong prosperous Russia only on the basis of respect for public opinion," he said. "Together we will certainly change life for the better."
A president will not have the power to reject the proposed candidacies, Putin said, but will be able to later remove the prime minister and senior cabinet members.
"Russia must remain a strong presidential republic," Putin said. The role of governors would also be enhanced, he added.
In power as either president or prime minister since 1999, Putin, 67, is due to step down in 2024 when his fourth presidential term ends.
He suggested that a clause limiting the president to two successive terms could be changed, but did not specify how. In December, Putin indicated he was in favor of removing the word "successive" from the clause.
Russia last conducted a referendum in 1993 when it adopted the constitution under Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin.