Following the 1993 constitution, Russia is a democratic,
federal and multi-ethnic republic. The Russian system is
semi-presidential in that it has a people-elected president,
but at the same time a government that is formally
accountable to the National Assembly.
Constitution and political system
The head of state in Russia, the president, is elected in
the general election for six years. The president can only
sit for two consecutive sessions, but the constitution does
not prevent him/her from being re-elected for a third time
if he/she has been out of office for a term of office.
no candidate in the presidential election gets an absolute
majority in the first round of elections, a new one is held
between the two leading candidates. The president is a
military commander and, in practice, both the head of state
The President may be dismissed in accordance with section
93 of the Russian Constitution if he/she has been guilty
of national fraud. Such an indictment must come on the
initiative of at least one-third of the State Duma's members
and be supported by at least two-thirds in a vote. Then the
case goes to the Federation Council, which also requires the
support of two-thirds of the members in a vote, which must
take place within three months. Then the case goes to the
Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how RU can stand for Russia.
The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in Russia
is formally called the "President of the Government". He/
she does not need to be elected to the National Assembly.
However, the Prime Minister must be approved by the lower
chamber of the National Assembly, the State Duma (450
members). If the Duma rejects three proposals for the Prime
Minister, the President can nominate his candidate and print
new elections for the Duma. The Duma can also adopt a motion
of no confidence against the government. The president can
accept or reject a distrust. If the Duma repeats a distrust
decision within three months, the President must accept the
government's resignation, but at the same time dissolve the
The prime minister holds the second most powerful
position in the Russian political system, but the president
nevertheless has great influence over the government
college. The president can chair meetings of the government
and reject bills from it. He/she can also issue binding
orders to the prime minister and other ministers.
The president appoints not only the prime minister, but
also the other members of the government. The appointment is
made on a proposal from the Prime Minister. Ministers
usually point out more on the basis of their professional
and professional qualifications than party political
experience. The Russian governments therefore have the
character of being technocrat governments.
Legislative authority has been added to the federal
assembly which has two chambers, the State Duma and the
Federation Council, the latter chamber of 170 (since 2014)
members. The Federation Council is composed of envoys from
the legislative and executive powers respectively in each of
the total 85 administrative units (federation subjects) that
the federation consists of. The Duma, which is the most
important of the two chambers, is elected in the general and
direct elections and is sitting for five years. Between 2007
and 2011, the members of the Duma were elected by
proportional elections on party lists with a block limit of
In 2016, a mix system was re-elected for the State Duma,
where one half is elected through ratio choices, the other
half through majority choices in single-person circles, and
a new barricade limit is set at five percent. In the
individual units of the federation, there are also separate
elected bodies, and local referendums can be held.
A number of schemes have been put in place for
communication between authorities and civil society in a
broad sense. Central to this is the Chamber of Social
Affairs at the federal and regional level as well as the
social councils linked to all ministries and government
agencies. The United Russia ruling party is also part of a
front organization - the All-Russian People's Front - to
expand its basis for consultation with civil society and
other political groups.
Political-administrative division - Federation subjects
The Russian Federation consists of 85 federation
subjects: 22 republics, 4 autonomous territories, 1
autonomous county, 9 districts or territories, 46 ordinary
counties, as well as the three federal cities (which are
their own federation subjects) Moscow, St. Petersburg and
Sevastopol. The inclusion of the Republic of Crimea and the
city of Sevastopol as two new federation objects in 2014 was
disputed and was part of the Ukraine crisis.
Federation subjects are governed by elected presidents or
governors. It is with them that regional political power
resides and they are closely linked to the presidential
Before, the regions could partly decide for themselves
how much tax they would collect from oil, gas and other
industries. In practice, this system is now nothing left of.
But they keep 30 percent of the income tax and 23 percent of
the dividend tax. Regions and cities can set rates for
transport taxes and property taxes.
It is a system of transfer between surplus regions and
subsidy regions, "donornye" and "dotatsionnye". Only twelve
regions do not receive such transfers.
The division into federation subjects follows two
principles, one based on nationalities and one geographical
/ administrative. Of the 85 federation subjects, 27 are
ethnically defined, without necessarily indicating that the
naming ethnic group is in the majority. For example, the
Karel Republic has seven percent Karelians.
The basis for the nationally based division was laid
during the Soviet period when national minorities were
granted a separate status related to territory in the
constitution. Areas with higher concentrations of national
minorities were granted autonomous republics within the
Union republics. Most of them were within the Russian Soviet
Federative Socialist Republic - RSFSR, the predecessor of
today's Russian Federation.
These "autonomous Soviet socialist republics",
abbreviated ASSR, had national attributes such as their own
flag, parliament and use of the language of the titular
nations in the administration alongside Russian. The
territories of smaller ethnic minorities were given the
status of autonomous areas, or circles, okrugi,
within regular counties and territories. There was also the
category of autonomous county which denoted a small,
nationally defined entity that did not have republican
status but did not belong to another entity.
During the Soviet period, a number of changes were made
to the status of various areas. Some national minorities had
their status reduced, others upgraded. The majority of
Russia's area and population were nonetheless included in
counties, oblasti, or districts (territories),
kraja (large areas of Siberia, Far East and Southern
Russia). These were geographically defined units that built
on the Russian governments and provinces from before the
revolution. This complicated federal structure, however, had
limited real significance in the Soviet era because the
state was in fact strongly centralized through the dominant
role of the Communist Party. The seemingly generous
treatment of national minorities was far from motivated by
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the
dissolution of the Communist Party, the new Russian state
stood with a contradictory structure. The rights of the
Federation subjects were first sought to be defined through
the Federation Agreement of March 1992 and in the new
constitution of December 1993. Here, the republics were
granted the most far-reaching rights, such as the right to
have their own constitution. At the same time, a number of
bilateral agreements were signed between the Moscow
authorities and various federations, where rights and
conditions are defined as much on the basis of economic
weight as formal constitutional status.
Between 1994 and 1998 separate temporary agreements were
signed with 42 federation subjects, who were given special
schemes with more autonomy. The most comprehensive agreement
was signed with the Republic of Tatarstan in 1994. This
republic has a very high proportion of the titular
nationality (Tatars), about 50 per cent, and is at the same
time highly economically developed and industrialized.
However, there was dissatisfaction among large, highly
industrialized and economically developed counties that had
difficulty accepting that small, economically weak republics
should have greater regional autonomy.
The degree of self-government varied among the 42
federated subjects who agreed, allowing the system to be
characterized as asymmetric federalism. The agreements were
not continued after Vladimir Putin took over in 2000.
Instead, more and more of the autonomous regions had
disappeared. The tendency has been for the status
differences between federation subjects to be equalized.
Another problem has been that autonomous areas were given
the status of federation subjects on par with the counties
they are also part of. This has led to the county's unity
being subjected to pressure. This has been particularly
strong, where the autonomous areas are rich in resources.
In Tyumen County, the petroleum-rich autonomous regions
of Khanty-Mansiisk and Jamal-Nenets broke long with the
county administration, preferring direct relations with
Moscow. A similar development was found in the relationship
between the Nenet autonomous area and the Arkhangelsk
county. In the autonomous areas, the struggle for greater
regional self-government is to a small extent ethnically
motivated, but rather an expression of a desire to retain
larger parts of the tax revenue. The ethnic minorities that
were the basis for the establishment of these areas usually
constitute only a small proportion of the population there
From 2003, a cautious restructuring of the federal
structure began. The federal government advocated the
dissolution of autonomous territories if the population
supported it in a referendum. The first merger took place in
2005 with the establishment of Perm kraj, a merger of Perm
County and the Komi Permjaks autonomous area. A further
three autonomous areas have now been dissolved and there are
sketches of a number of further mergers. Another county (Kamchatka)
has changed the status of district - kraj.
In 2000, President Vladimir Putin introduced a new
administrative unit, Federal Circuits - Federal New
Okrugi. These eight "super-regions" are led by an envoy
for the president. They act as an intermediary between
Moscow and the Federation subjects and to a certain extent
coordinate the activities of the federal authorities across
the Federation subjects. The establishment was seen as part
of Putin's efforts to centralize power in Russia. The
federal circuits are not part of Russia's constitution.
The restructuring is large in post-Soviet Russia. The
country has since 1990 built up a whole new law. The courts
should now be independent. Judges are irresistible. Court
hearings are public and the jury can be used. No one can be
convicted in criminal cases without being present.
There is a separate constitutional court to assess the
constitutional compatibility of the law, as well as disputes
over jurisdiction between various public bodies. There is a
separate Supreme Arbitration Court to settle disputes in
financial and other matters. The Supreme Court is also the
supreme court and also has supervisory responsibility in
criminal and civil law.
There are separate courts at the local level. Judgments
here may be appealed to the courts at the federal subject
level (Republic, county and so on). In addition, in several
places there is a system of peace judges for minor crimes
with an upper sentence of three years in prison.
Judges of the top three courts are appointed by the
Federal Council on a proposal from the President. Judges in
other federal courts are appointed by the president. The
prosecuting authority is a unified and centralized system.
The Attorney General is appointed by the Federal Council, on
a proposal from the President.