The Russian Political System
KeywordsFederal Court Executive Power Constitutional Court Federation Council Judicial Power
A coordinated set of principles, laws, ideas, and procedures relating to a particular form of government or the form of government itself. It is compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and social systems.
Russia is a democratic federal republic with the president as the head of the state. Following the basic principles of democracy, the constitution provides for the separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial branches, which are to be independent. The executive power is split between the president and the prime minister, but the president is the dominant figure. The legislature is represented by the Federal Assembly of Russia. It has two chambers: the State Duma (the lower house) and the Federation Council (the upper house). The judicial power is vested in courts and administered by the Ministry of Justice. Unlike most of the contemporary republics, the president of Russia does not belong to the executive or any other branch of power, although he has enough authority to influence governmental activities. According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the president ensures coordinated functioning and interaction of all the bodies of state power.
History of Establishment of Presidency in Russia
For the first time, the idea for establishment of presidency in our country gained the upper hand during the soviet “perestroika” in 1990 when the Office of the President of the USSR appeared. A short time later, the institution of presidency was introduced in Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic as a result of the all-Russian referendum. The status of the president had been significantly changed with the adoption of the Constitution of the Russian Federation in 1993 which proclaimed the president the head of the state.
The 12th of July 1991 become the day of the elections of the first president of Russia. Boris Yeltsin had held this position till 2000 when he had sent in his resignation and announced his successor Vladimir Putin. On December 31, 1999, he became acting president. On March 26, 2000, Putin was elected president of Russia and was inaugurated on May 7, 2000. On March 14, 2004, he was elected president of Russia for the second term. Since May 8, 2008, Vladimir Putin is a prime minister of Russia. Dmitriy Medvedev was president of Russia in 2008–2012. On March 4, 2012, Putin was elected president of Russia and inaugurated on May 7, 2012.
Functions of President
The president’s main function is to act as a guarantor of the constitution and of the rights and freedoms of humans and citizens. He takes measures to protect the sovereignty of Russia and determines the guidelines of the internal and foreign policies of the state.
The institution of presidency itself is sufficiently new for our country. Its evolution and development in Russia has been highly influenced by various national and historical features, such as stable tradition of strong individual power vested in tsars, emperors, and general secretaries in different periods of Russian history.
The president of Russia does not belong to the executive or any other branch of power, although he has enough authority to influence governmental activities.
The president is a guarantor of the constitution and of the rights and freedoms of humans and citizens. He takes measures to protect the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, its independence, and state integrity and ensures coordinated functioning and interaction of all the bodies of state power. He also determines the guidelines of the home and foreign policies of Russia and represents the Russian Federation within the country and in international relations.
Any citizen of the Russian Federation not younger than 35 years of age and with a permanent residence record in Russia of not less than 10 years may be elected president. The president is elected for 6 years on the basis of universal, equal, direct suffrage by secret ballot. One and the same person may not be elected president of Russia for more than two terms running.
I swear in exercising the powers of the President of the Russian Federation to respect and safeguard the rights and freedoms of human and citizen, to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the State, to faithfully serve the people.
This oath is taken in a solemn atmosphere in the presence of members of the Council of the Federation, deputies of the State Duma, and judges of the Constitution Court of the Russian Federation.
Authority of the President of Russia
The president of Russia possesses vast authority in government. By agreement with the State Duma, he appoints the chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, appoints all the federal ministers, and decides on their resignation.
The president presents to the Council of the Federation candidates for appointment as judges of the Constitution Court, the Supreme Court, as well as a candidate for the post of the procurator-general of the Russian Federation, and appoints judges of other federal courts.
The president is also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The president has certain powers in his relations with the legislative branch. Thus, he may introduce bills to State Duma, he has the right to veto laws adopted by the Federal Assembly, and he is also empowered to dissolve the State Duma in case it rejects three times the candidates for the post of the chairman of the government.
The president of the Russian Federation may cease to exercise his powers short of the term in case of his resignation, in case of stable inability to exercise the powers vested in him because of health reasons, or in case of impeachment.
The president may be impeached by the Council of the Federation only on the basis of the charges of high treason or another grave crime, advanced by the State Duma and confirmed by the conclusion of the Supreme Court on the presence of the elements of crime in the actions of the president and by the conclusion of the Constitution Court confirming that the rules of advancing the charges were observed.
The bicameral Federal Assembly makes federal law, approves treaties, declares war, and has the power of the purse. Both its chambers are located in Moscow. The legislative and representative body of the Russian Federation is the Federal Assembly. The Federal Assembly consists of two chambers – the Council of the Federation and the State Duma. The Federation Council of Russia is the upper house of the Russian Parliament. Created by the 1993 constitution, it acts as a voice of Russia’s federated entities. The Council has explicitly stated that no political factions are to exist in the upper house. Unlike the State Duma, the Council is not directly elected. It consists of representatives of Russia’s federal entities – each has two. One is elected by the entity’s legislature; the other is nominated by the entity’s head. The terms of the members are not nationally fixed but depend on the terms of the regional bodies that chose them.
The Council of the Federation
The Council of the Federation includes representatives from each subject of the Russian Federation, while the State Duma is an elected chamber containing 450 deputies. The executive power in Russia is represented by the Government of the Russian Federation which consists of the chairman of the government, deputy chairman of the government, and federal ministries. The president of the Russian Federation appoints the chairman of the Russian Government with the consent of the State Duma.
Establishing the judicial power the Constitution emphasizes that justice in the Russian Federation shall be administered by courts alone. The judicial power in Russia is exercised by means of constitutional, civil, administrative, and criminal proceedings. The fundamental institutions of the Russian judicial system are the Constitution Court and the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The Constitution Court plays the major role in the whole system of government as it considers cases on the correspondence of legislation and regulations at all levels of government to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
The Constitution establishes certain provisions for the mechanism of “checks and balances” to be put into effect. Thus, the president may veto laws adopted by the Federal Assembly, but the majority of two thirds of the total number of the members of the Council of the Federation and of the deputies of the State Duma can override the veto.
The President of the Russian Federation presents to the Council of the Federation candidates to be appointed as judges of the Constitution Court, the Supreme Court, as well as a candidate for the post of the procurator-general of the Russian Federation and appoints judges of other federal courts.
He is also empowered to dissolve the State Duma in case it rejects three times the candidates for the post of the chairman of the government. At the same time, the jurisdiction of the State Duma includes bringing an accusation against the president of the Russian Federation for his impeachment.
The State Duma
The term Duma comes from the Russian “dumat” (“to think”). Compared to some European democracies, the Russian Duma is quite a youngster. Founded in 1906, it did not survive the 1917 revolution. But it bounced back in 1993, when Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, introduced a new constitution. The State Duma may also express no confidence to the Government of the Russian Federation, and the president shall be free to announce the resignation of the government or to reject the decision of the State Duma. In case the State Duma again expresses no confidence to the government during 3 months, the president may accept this or dissolve the State Duma.
As a federal state, the Russian Federation consists of 85 regions called “subjects (jurisdictions) of federation.” These are republics, krais (territories), oblasts (regions), autonomous okrugs (areas), and three cities of federal importance – Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Sevastopol (since 2014).
The subjects of federation are declared to be equal. They are empowered to adopt their own legislation within the frameworks determined by the Constitution. They also establish their own systems of regional government independently though in a strict accordance with the principles of the constitutional system of Russia.
The courts of general jurisdiction (including military courts), subordinated to the Supreme Court
The arbitration court system under the High Court of Arbitration;
The Constitutional Court (as well as constitutional courts in a number of federal entities)
The municipal court is the lowest adjudicating body in the general court system. It serves each city or rural district and hears more than 90% of all civil and criminal cases.
Russia is a federal presidential republic where the executive power is split between the president of the Russian Federation and the prime minister, but the president is the dominant figure. According to Constitution of the Russian Federation, the state power in the Russian Federation is exercised on the basis of its division into legislative, executive, and judicial power. The bodies of legislative, executive, and judicial power are independent. The legislature is represented by the Federal Assembly of Russia. The judicial power is vested in courts and administered by the Ministry of Justice.
- Constitution of the Russian Federation. http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm