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Novak to continue as acting Russian energy minister despite full government resignation

Moscow — Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, a key figure in the country's alliance with OPEC, is to resign along with the rest of the Russian government, after an announcement issued by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday.

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Novak will be expected to continue in his role until a new government is formed, following the surprise announcement, which came during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin and the cabinet, broadcast on state television.

Russia produces more than 11 million b/d of crude oil and is Europe's largest supplier of natural gas. Novak has been a key figure in Moscow's collaboration with OPEC to cut 1.7 million b/d of combined output.

Earlier Wednesday, Putin announced plans for wide-ranging constitutional reforms that would shift some powers away from the president to parliament and the prime minister. Putin's term of office expires in 2024. It is his fourth -- and second consecutive -- term as president. Under the current terms of the constitution, he would not be eligible to run for president again in 2024.

Government sources said that the resignations had not been expected by cabinet members.