The little-known head of Russia's tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, was named as the next prime minister of Russia hours after Dmitry Medvedev resigned on Wednesday, capping a day of unexpected changes to Russian politics.
"President Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Mikhail Mishustin and suggested that he take on the duties of the head of government," the Kremlin press service said. "With his consent, [Putin] submitted the prime ministerial candidacy of Mishustin to be considered in the Duma."
Mishustin has been leading Russia's federal tax authority since 2010 and is not considered a high-profile politician in Russia.
"The candidacy of Mishustin is absolutely unexpected, but this does not mean that he is a person which causes resistance," the deputy head of Russia's Federation Council, Ilyas Umakhanov, told the Interfax news agency. "Not all heads of tax institutions enjoy sympathies and affection. In my opinion, this is the prevalent public mood towards Mishustin."
Umakhanov described the tax official as a man of "great experience, the person who was part of the system."
Mishustin, 53, was born in Moscow and worked as an IT expert in the 1990s. He began working in the tax service in 1998 and was later named deputy tax minister. In 2008, he served as the head of Russian investment company UFG, which at the time cooperated with Germany's Deutsche Bank. Mishustin was named head of Russia's tax service in 2010 after his predecessor left for another post. The newly appointed prime minister is also a member of the board of Russia's Ice Hockey Federation.
Mishustin met with senior Duma lawmakers on Wednesday evening after being tapped for the new role. The lower house of Russia's parliament is due to vote on his candidacy tomorrow.
The news came on the heels of President Vladimir Putin's annual speech to lawmakers where he proposed a series of constitutional reforms that would grant more powers to parliament — including the ability to select the prime minister.
The changes would make significant changes to the country's balance of power and so "the government in its current form has resigned," Medvedev said on state television while seated next to Putin.
The prime minister said the move was aimed at clearing the way for the changes to be made. Putin earlier said the constitutional amendments would be put to a referendum.
Putin has asked the outgoing government to continue to carry out their duties until a new government is formed. The Russian president added that he was "satisfied with the government's performance" although the government failed to fulfill certain tasks, reported news agency Interfax.