Russia - Government



A new post-Soviet constitution for Russia was approved in a referendum held 12 December 1993. The constitution establishes a bicameral legislature known as the Federal Assembly. The lower house (State Duma) consists of 450 elected deputies while the 178-member upper house (Council of the Federation) is composed of representatives of the provinces and autonomous republics that make up Russia. The president is elected separately for a four-year term.

The president appoints the cabinet and other top government posts subject to confirmation by the legislature. Presidential appointments of prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and chairman of the central bank are subject to confirmation by the State Duma while appointments of high court judges and the prosecutor general are subject to confirmation by the Council of the Federation. The president can refuse to accept the State Duma's rejection of an appointment to the prime ministership. If the State Duma refuses three times to confirm a new prime minister, the president may dissolve the lower house and hold new elections to it. If the State Duma votes twice within three months a no-confidence motion against the prime minister and cabinet, the president may respond either by dismissing the cabinet or dissolving the State Duma. The president, however, cannot dissolve the State Duma due to its passing a no-confidence motion during the first year of the State Duma's term of office. The president may declare war or a state of emergency on his own authority.

Impeachment of the president is provided for in the constitution, but is very difficult. Two-thirds of the State Duma must vote to initiate the impeachment process. Both the Constitutional Court, established to arbitrate any disputes between the executive and legislative branches, and the Supreme Court must review the charges. The findings of all three organizations are then submitted to the Council of the Federation, which can impeach the president by a two-thirds majority vote. This process must be completed within three months from beginning to end.

The State Duma has jurisdiction over the budget and economic policy, most of which must then be approved of by the Council of the Federation. The Council has jurisdiction over issues affecting the provinces and autonomous republics, including border changes and the use of force within the Russian Federation.

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