Lithuanian foreign minister says no major changes seem likely in Russia

  • 2020-01-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius says the Russian government shake-up gives no grounds to expect any fundamental change in the country, at least for now. 

"All these reshuffles create an illusion, and give hope to some that something will change now (...), but I don't think this is going to change anything," the minister told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Thursday.

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

Linkevicius 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 neighbors, 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. 

"However, it would be premature to draw conclusions that anything will change in this area," he added. 

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

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

"The situation (in Russia) is far from being simple, with defense spending growing rapidly (...) and social programs stalling. Apparently, changes are needed internally, and, an impression that something is changing (is needed) externally," he added. 

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry 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 expires.