Yesterday when Mikhail Kasyanov and I discussed this meeting, he said that previously the President never came to the [Russian government] White House in connection with the Government’s dismissal. This is understandable given that in the past decisions of this kind were connected to complications, conflicts or difficulties of some kind. What is happening now, on the other hand, is practically an event that was planned in advance.
Of course, people will be asking themselves why this was necessary and why it had to be done just three weeks before the presidential elections? There are at least two reasons for this decision. The first is political and the second is administrative and organisational.
The political reason is that in my position as current President and candidate in the presidential elections, I think it is my duty to present the public with the person who I will propose as Prime Minister. If I have the opportunity to do that, I believe that I must take it.
You know as well as I do what the post of Prime Minister means in our country, not to mention that, constitutionally, this is the second-highest office in Russia. You will also recall that in my annual address to the Federal Assembly last year, I stated that questions of this kind would be decided through consultations with the parliamentary majority. This requires a certain amount of work and could entail adegree of uncertainty and require some additional time.
The question of time brings us to the second reason, the administrative and organisational reason. If we take a look at the Constitution, we see that following the presidential elections the Government resigns and, according to the timetable set out in the Constitution, the newly appointed Government would not take office until the beginning of June. This further complicates the whole process, because we are working together on administrative reform, reform of the Government itself. The Government has been working on this for quite a long time now, almost a year-and-a-half. Incidentally, I think that we have dragged this process on for too long. But given that we intend to carry these reforms through to their completion, and that the Government has been working actively on this of late, this would put the Cabinet into even more of a state of suspension until June. First, because of the appointment procedure that follows the elections and second because the Government itself will be undergoing reforms. The heads of ministries and agencies would end up not knowing how, where and in what capacity they will be working. I think that you will agree with me that we can hardly talk about effective work over the next six months in this situation.
This is why I took the decision to dismiss the Government before the elections.