Russia has a complicated patchwork of regional and local governments. Russia is divided into six krais, 49 oblasts, one autonomous oblast, 10 autonomous okrugs, and two independent cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg). There are also 21 autonomous republics where non-Russian minorities predominate, or used to predominate.
For all but the 21 autonomous republics, President Yeltsin issued decrees reorganizing the system of local government in October 1993. Each unit has an elected legislature. Most of these are unicameral, though two (Magadan Oblast and Altai Krai) opted for bicameral ones. In late 1996 and early 1997, regional popular elections of governors took place, replacing the system of appointments by the president. By contrast, the Russian president never appointed the heads of the 21 autonomous republics. These (usually called presidents) are selected in whatever manner is prescribed by their individual constitutions. The regional and republic executive and legislative heads are ex officio members of the Russian Federal Assembly's upper chamber, the Federation Council, where they endeavor to guard local power against encroachment from Moscow.
In 2000, the administrative units of Russia were grouped into seven regional administrative districts: Northwest, Central, Volga, North Caucasus, Ural, Siberia, and Far East. A presidential representative is appointed to each.