The changes mean Putin could end up taking over as prime minister when he is forced to step down as president in 2024.
The country’s current prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, announced he was on state TV while sitting next to Putin.
Medvedev is a long-time Putin ally who served as a placeholder president between 2008 and 2012 to allow him to observe term limits.
The constitutional shake-up proposed by Putin, 67, could allow him to rule in another capacity after his current term ends in 2024.
The plans shift power away from the president to parliament and the prime minister, and the move – if implemented – would add to speculation about Putin’s future plans.
Putin has remained at the helm for more than 20 years – longer than any other Russian or Soviet leader since Josef Stalin.
“The only goal of Putin and his regime is to stay in charge for life, having the entire country as his personal asset and seizing its riches for himself and his friends.”
Political analyst Kirill Rogov said Putin’s proposals indicate his intention to remain in charge while redistributing powers between various branches of government.
“Such a model resembling the Chinese one would allow Putin to stay at the helm indefinitely while encouraging rivalry between potential successors,” Rogov said on Facebook.
Alexei Navalny, the most prominent Russian opposition leader, tweeted that the president’s speech signalled Putin’s desire to continue calling the shots after his term ends.
“The only goal of Putin and his regime is to stay in charge for life, having the entire country as his personal asset and seizing its riches for himself and his friends,” Navalny alleged.
In his state of the nation address earlier in on Wednesday, Putin suggested amending the constitution to allow politicians to name prime ministers and cabinet members. That means Putin himself could end up being named PM – or filling another role.
The authority to make those appointments currently belongs to Russia’s president.
“It will increase the role of parliament and parliamentary parties, powers and independence of the prime minister and all cabinet members,” Putin told an audience of top officials and politicians.
Attention now turns to who becomes the next prime minister. The array of possible candidates includes Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who is credited with breathing new life into the capital.
Whoever he picks as prime minister will inevitably be viewed as a possible presidential successor – echoing the way that Putin stepped down from the presidency in 2008 to become prime minister under Medvedev, who then stepped aside four years later to allow Putin to resume the presidency.
In power in one of the two roles since 1999, Putin will step down when his fourth presidential term ends.
He has not yet said what he plans to do when his term expires but, under the current constitution, which sets a maximum of two successive terms, Putin is barred from immediately running again.