China and Africa. Ian Taylor. Routledge Handbook of Russian Foreign Policy. Andrei P. Jane Leftwich Curry. Piotr Dutkiewicz. Executive Politics in Semi-Presidential Regimes. Martin Carrier. From the Soviet Bloc to the European Union. Ivan T. Elena Korosteleva.
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David Lane. Andrea L. Local Politics and Democratization in Russia. Rethinking the 'Coloured Revolutions'. Politics in Russia. Thomas F Remington. Building The Russian State. Valerie Sperling. Donnacha O Beachain. Russian Regions and Regionalism. Anne Aldis. Transforming the Transformation? Michael Minkenberg. Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Postcommunist World.
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Politics Russia. Most importantly, Yeltsin's faction led elements in the "power ministries" that controlled the military, the police, and the KGB to refuse to obey the orders of the coup plotters. The opposition led by Yeltsin, combined with the irresolution of the plotters, caused the coup to collapse after three days. Following the failed August coup, Gorbachev found a fundamentally changed constellation of power, with Yeltsin in de facto control of much of a sometimes recalcitrant Soviet administrative apparatus. Although Gorbachev returned to his position as Soviet president, events began to bypass him.
Communist Party activities were suspended [ by whom? Most of the union republics quickly declared their independence, although many appeared willing to sign Gorbachev's vaguely-delineated confederation treaty. The Baltic states achieved full independence, and they quickly received diplomatic recognition from many nations. Gorbachev's rump government recognized the independence of Estonia , Latvia , and Lithuania in August and September In late the Yeltsin government assumed budgetary control over Gorbachev's rump government.
Russia did not declare its independence, and Yeltsin continued to hope for the establishment of some form of confederation. In response to calls by the Central Asian and other union republics for admission, another meeting took place in Alma-Ata , on 21 December, to form an expanded CIS. At that meeting, all parties declared that the treaty of union, which had established the Soviet Union, annulled and that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Gorbachev announced the decision officially on 25 December Russia gained international recognition as the principal successor to the Soviet Union, receiving the Soviet Union's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and positions in other international and regional organizations.
The CIS states also agreed that Russia initially would take over Soviet embassies and other properties abroad. In October , during the "honeymoon" period after his resistance to the Soviet coup, Yeltsin had convinced the legislature to grant him special executive and legislative powers for one year so that he might implement his economic reforms. In November Yeltsin appointed a new government, with himself as acting prime minister, a post he held until the appointment of Yegor Gaidar as acting prime minister in June During Yeltsin and his reforms came under increasing attack from former members and officials of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , from extreme nationalists , and from others calling for reform to be slowed or even halted in Russia.
A locus of this opposition was increasingly the two-chamber parliament, the Supreme Soviet of Russia , comprising the Soviet of the Republic and the Soviet of Nationalities.
Politics of Russia - Wikipedia
Under the constitution , the parliament was the supreme organ of power in Russia. After Russia added the office of president in , the division of powers between the two branches remained ambiguous, while the Congress of People's Deputies of Russia CPD retained its obvious power "to examine and resolve any matter within the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation".
In the Congress was even further empowered, gaining the ability to suspend any articles of the Constitution, per amended article of the Constitution Basic Law of the Russian Federation. Although Yeltsin managed to beat back most challenges to his reform program when the CPD met in April , in December he suffered a significant loss of his special executive powers.
The CPD ordered him to halt appointments of administrators in the localities and also the practice of naming additional local oversight emissaries termed "presidential representatives". Yeltsin also lost the power to issue special decrees concerning the economy, while retaining his constitutional power to issue decrees in accordance with existing laws. When the CPD rejected Yeltsin's attempt to secure the confirmation of Gaidar as prime minister was rejected December , Yeltsin appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin , whom the parliament approved because he was viewed as more economically conservative than Gaidar.
After contentious negotiations between the parliament and Yeltsin, the two sides agreed to hold a national referendum to allow the population to determine the basic division of powers between the two branches of government. In the meantime, proposals for extreme limitation of Yeltsin's power were tabled. However, early saw increasing tension between Yeltsin and the parliament over the referendum and over power-sharing. In mid-March , an emergency session of the CPD rejected Yeltsin's proposals on power-sharing and canceled the referendum, again opening the door to legislation that would shift the balance of power away from the president.
Faced with these setbacks, Yeltsin addressed the nation directly to announce a "special regime", under which he would assume extraordinary executive power pending the results of a referendum on the timing of new legislative elections, on a new constitution, and on public confidence in the president and vice president. After the Constitutional Court declared his announcement unconstitutional, Yeltsin backed down. Despite Yeltsin's change of heart, a second extraordinary session of the CPD took up discussion of emergency measures to defend the constitution, including impeachment of the president.
Although the impeachment vote failed, the CPD set new terms for a popular referendum. The legislature's version of the referendum asked whether citizens had confidence in Yeltsin, approved of his reforms, and supported early presidential and legislative elections. Under the CPD's terms, Yeltsin would need the support of 50 percent of eligible voters, rather than 50 percent of those actually voting, to avoid an early presidential election.
In the vote on 25 April , Russians failed to provide this level of approval, but a majority of voters approved Yeltsin's policies and called for new legislative elections. Yeltsin termed the results, which delivered a serious blow to the prestige of the parliament, a mandate for him to continue in power. In June Yeltsin decreed the creation of a special constitutional convention to examine the draft constitution that he had presented in April.
This convention was designed to circumvent the parliament, which was working on its own draft constitution. As expected, the two main drafts contained contrary views of legislative-executive relations. The convention, which included delegates from major political and social organizations and the 89 subnational jurisdictions, approved a compromise draft constitution in July , incorporating some aspects of the parliament's draft. The parliament failed to approve the draft, however.
Politics of Russia
In late September , Yeltsin responded to the impasse in legislative-executive relations by repeating his announcement of a constitutional referendum, but this time he followed the announcement by dissolving the parliament and announcing new legislative elections for December see Russian constitutional crisis of After a two-week standoff, Rutskoy urged supporters outside the legislative building to overcome Yeltsin's military forces.
Firefights and destruction of property resulted at several locations in Moscow. The next day, on 3 October, Yeltsin chose a radical solution to settle his dispute with parliament: he called up tanks to shell the parliament building. Under the direction of Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev , tanks fired on the White House, and military forces occupied the building and the rest of the city. As Yeltsin was taking the unconstitutional step of dissolving the legislature, Russia came the closest to serious civil conflict since the revolution of This open, violent confrontation remained a backdrop to Yeltsin's relations with the legislative branch for the next three years.
During Yeltsin had argued that the existing, heavily amended constitution of Russia was obsolete and self-contradictory and that Russia required a new constitution granting the president greater power. This assertion led to the submission and advocacy of rival constitutional drafts drawn up by the legislative and executive branches. The parliament's failure to endorse a compromise was an important factor in Yeltsin's dissolution of that body in September Yeltsin then used his presidential powers to form a sympathetic constitutional assembly, which quickly produced a draft constitution providing for a strong executive, and to shape the outcome of the December referendum on Russia's new basic law.
The turnout requirement for the referendum was changed from 50 percent of the electorate to simply 50 percent of participating voters. The referendum vote resulted in approval by The constitution declares Russia a democratic, federative, law-based state with a republican form of government. State power is divided among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Diversity of ideologies and religions is sanctioned, and a state or compulsory ideology may not be adopted.
Progressively, however, human rights violations in connection with religious groups labeled "extremist" by the government have been increasingly frequent. The right to a multiparty political system is upheld. The content of laws must be approved by the public before they take effect, and they must be formulated in accordance with international law and principles. Russian is proclaimed the state language, although the republics of the federation are allowed to establish their own state. The constitution created a dual executive consisting of a president and prime minister, but the president is the dominant figure.
Russia's strong presidency sometimes is compared with that of Charles de Gaulle in office in the French Fifth Republic. The constitution spells out many prerogatives specifically, but some powers enjoyed by Yeltsin were developed in an ad hoc manner. Russia's president determines the basic direction of Russia's domestic and foreign policy and represents the Russian state within the country and in foreign affairs. The president appoints and recalls Russia's ambassadors upon consultation with the legislature, accepts the credentials and letters of recall of foreign representatives, conducts international talks, and signs international treaties.
A special provision allowed Yeltsin to complete the term prescribed to end in June and to exercise the powers of the new constitution, although he had been elected under a different constitutional order. In the presidential election campaign, some candidates called for eliminating the presidency, criticizing its powers as dictatorial. Yeltsin defended his presidential powers, claiming that Russians desire "a vertical power structure and a strong hand" and that a parliamentary government would result in indecisive talk rather than action.
The president has broad authority to issue decrees and directives that have the force of law without judicial review , although the constitution notes that they must not contravene that document or other laws. Under certain conditions, the president may dissolve the State Duma , the lower house of parliament, the Federal Assembly. The president has the prerogatives of scheduling referendums a power previously reserved to the parliament , submitting draft laws to the State Duma, and promulgating federal laws.
The executive-legislative crisis of the fall of prompted Yeltsin to emplace constitutional obstacles to legislative removal of the president. Under the constitution, if the president commits "grave crimes" or treason, the State Duma may file impeachment charges with the parliament's upper house, the Federation Council. These charges must be confirmed by a ruling of the Supreme Court that the president's actions constitute a crime and by a ruling of the Constitutional Court that proper procedures in filing charges have been followed.
The charges then must be adopted by a special commission of the State Duma and confirmed by at least two-thirds of State Duma deputies. A two-thirds vote of the Federation Council is required for removal of the president. If the Federation Council does not act within three months, the charges are dropped. If the president is removed from office or becomes unable to exercise power because of serious illness, the prime minister is to temporarily assume the president's duties; a presidential election then must be held within three months.
The constitution does not provide for a vice president, and there is no specific procedure for determining whether the president is able to carry out his duties. The president is empowered to appoint the prime minister to chair the Government called the cabinet or the council of ministers in other countries , with the consent of the State Duma. The president chairs meetings of the Government, which he also may dismiss in its entirety. Upon the advice of the prime minister, the president can appoint or remove Government members, including the deputy prime ministers.
In addition, the president submits candidates to the Federation Council for appointment as justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of Arbitration, as well as candidates for the office of procurator general, Russia's chief law enforcement officer. The president also appoints justices of federal district courts. Many of the president's powers are related to the incumbent's undisputed leeway in forming an administration and hiring staff. The presidential administration is composed of several competing, overlapping, and vaguely delineated hierarchies that historically have resisted efforts at consolidation.
Power and Parties in Post-Soviet Russia
In early , Russian sources reported the size of the presidential apparatus in Moscow and the localities at more than 75, people, most of them employees of state-owned enterprises directly under presidential control. Former first deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais was appointed chief of the presidential administration chief of staff in July Yegorov had been appointed in early , when Yeltsin reacted to the strong showing of antireform factions in the legislative election by purging reformers from his administration.
Yeltsin now ordered Chubais, who had been included in that purge, to reduce the size of the administration and the number of departments overseeing the functions of the ministerial apparatus. The six administrative departments in existence at that time dealt with citizens' rights, domestic and foreign policy, state and legal matters, personnel, analysis, and oversight, and Chubais inherited a staff estimated at 2, employees.
Chubais also received control over a presidential advisory group with input on the economy, national security, and other matters. Reportedly that group had competed with Korzhakov's security service for influence in the Yeltsin administration. Another center of power in the presidential administration is the Security Council, which was created by statute in mid The constitution describes the council as formed and headed by the president and governed by statute. Since its formation, it apparently has gradually lost influence in competition with other power centers in the presidential administration.
However, the June appointment of former army general and presidential candidate Alexander Lebed to head the Security Council improved prospects for the organization's standing. In July , a presidential decree assigned the Security Council a wide variety of new missions. The decree's description of the Security Council's consultative functions was especially vague and wide-ranging, although it positioned the head of the Security Council directly subordinate to the president. As had been the case previously, the Security Council was required to hold meetings at least once a month. Other presidential support services include the Control Directorate in charge of investigating official corruption , the Administrative Affairs Directorate, the Presidential Press Service, and the Protocol Directorate.
The Administrative Affairs Directorate controls state dachas , sanatoriums, automobiles, office buildings, and other perquisites of high office for the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, a function that includes management of more than state industries with about 50, employees. The Committee on Operational Questions, until June chaired by antireformist Oleg Soskovets , has been described as a "government within a government".
Also attached to the presidency are more than two dozen consultative commissions and extrabudgetary "funds". The president also has extensive powers over military policy. As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of the armed forces, the president approves defense doctrine, appoints and removes the high command of the armed forces, and confers higher military ranks and awards. The president is empowered to declare national or regional states of martial law , as well as state of emergency.
In both cases, both houses of the parliament must be notified immediately. The Federation Council, the upper house , has the power to confirm or reject such a decree. The regime of martial law is defined by federal law "On Martial law", signed into law by president Vladimir Putin in The circumstances and procedures for the president to declare a state of emergency are more specifically outlined in federal law than in the constitution.
In practice, the Constitutional Court ruled in that the president has wide leeway in responding to crises within Russia, such as lawlessness in the separatist Republic of Chechnya , and that Yeltsin's action in Chechnya did not require a formal declaration of a state of emergency. In Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Ingushetia and North Ossetia , two republics beset by intermittent ethnic conflict.
The constitution sets few requirements for presidential elections, deferring in many matters to other provisions established by law. The presidential term is set at six years, and the president may only serve two consecutive terms. A candidate for president must be a citizen of Russia, at least 35 years of age, and a resident of the country for at least ten years. If a president becomes unable to continue in office because of health problems, resignation, impeachment, or death, a presidential election is to be held not more than three months later. In such a situation, the Federation Council is empowered to set the election date.
The Law on Presidential Elections , ratified in May , establishes the legal basis for presidential elections. The law, which set rigorous standards for fair campaign and election procedures, was hailed by international analysts as a major step toward democratization. Under the law, parties, blocs, and voters' groups register with the Central Electoral Commission of Russia CEC and designate their candidates. The purpose of the 7 percent requirement is to promote candidacies with broad territorial bases and eliminate those supported by only one city or ethnic enclave.
The law required that at least 50 percent of eligible voters participate in order for a presidential election to be valid. In State Duma debate over the legislation, some deputies had advocated a minimum of 25 percent which was later incorporated into the electoral law covering the State Duma , warning that many Russians were disillusioned with voting and would not turn out.
To make voter participation more appealing, the law required one voting precinct for approximately every 3, voters, with voting allowed until late at night. The conditions for absentee voting were eased, and portable ballot boxes were to be made available on demand. Strict requirements were established for the presence of election observers, including emissaries from all participating parties, blocs, and groups, at polling places and local electoral commissions to guard against tampering and to ensure proper tabulation.
The Law on Presidential Elections requires that the winner receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote a highly probable result because of multiple candidacies , the top two vote-getters must face each other in a runoff election. Once the results of the first round are known, the runoff election must be held within fifteen days.
A traditional provision allows voters to check off "none of the above," meaning that a candidate in a two-person runoff might win without attaining a majority. Another provision of the election law empowers the CEC to request that the Supreme Court ban a candidate from the election if that candidate advocates a violent transformation of the constitutional order or the integrity of the Russian Federation. The presidential election of was a major episode in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation KPRF , which sought to oust Yeltsin from office and return to power.
Yeltsin had banned the Communist Party of the Russian Republic for its central role in the August coup against the Gorbachev government. As a member of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the banned party, Gennady Zyuganov had worked hard to gain its relegalization. Yeltsin temporarily banned the party again in October for its role in the Supreme Soviet's just-concluded attempt to overthrow his administration.
After the KPRF's triumph in the December legislative elections, Yeltsin announced that he would run for reelection with the main purpose of safeguarding Russia from a communist restoration. Although there was speculation that losing parties in the December election might choose not to nominate presidential candidates, in fact dozens of citizens both prominent and obscure announced their candidacies.
After the gathering and review of signature lists, the CEC validated eleven candidates, one of whom later dropped out. In the opinion polls of early , Yeltsin trailed far behind most of the other candidates; his popularity rating was below 10 percent for a prolonged period. However, a last-minute, intense campaign featuring heavy television exposure, speeches throughout Russia promising increased state expenditures for a wide variety of interest groups, and campaign-sponsored concerts boosted Yeltsin to a 3 percent plurality over Zyuganov in the first round.
The election campaign was largely sponsored by wealthy tycoons, for whom Yeltsin remaining at power was the key to protect their property acquired during the reforms of After the first election round, Yeltsin took the tactically significant step of appointing first-round presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed, who had placed third behind Yeltsin and Zyuganov, as head of the Security Council.
Yeltsin followed the appointment of Lebed as the president's top adviser on national security by dismissing several top hard-line members of his entourage who were widely blamed for human rights violations in Chechnya and other mistakes. Despite his virtual disappearance from public view for health reasons shortly thereafter, Yeltsin was able to sustain his central message that Russia should move forward rather than return to its communist past.
Zyuganov failed to mount an energetic or convincing second campaign, and three weeks after the first phase of the election, Yeltsin easily defeated his opponent, 54 percent to 40 percent. It was argued Yeltsin won the Russian presidential election thanks to the extensive assistance provided by the team of media and PR experts from the United States. They also detailed the extent of their collaboration with the Clinton White House.
Turnout in the first round was high, with about 70 percent of Total turnout in the second round was nearly the same as in the first round. A contingent of almost 1, international observers judged the election to be largely fair and democratic, as did the CEC. Most observers in Russia and elsewhere concurred that the election boosted democratization in Russia, and many asserted that reforms in Russia had become irreversible. Yeltsin had strengthened the institution of regularly contested elections when he rejected calls by business organizations and other groups and some of his own officials to cancel or postpone the balloting because of the threat of violence.
The high turnout indicated that voters had confidence that their ballots would count, and the election went forward without incident. The democratization process also was bolstered by Yeltsin's willingness to change key personnel and policies in response to public protests and by his unprecedented series of personal campaign appearances throughout Russia. The constitution prescribes that the Government of Russia, which corresponds to the Western cabinet structure, consist of a prime minister chairman of the Government , deputy prime ministers, and federal ministers and their ministries and departments.
Richard Arnold and Andreas Umland
Within one week of appointment by the president and approval by the State Duma, the prime minister must submit to the president nominations for all subordinate Government positions, including deputy prime ministers and federal ministers. The prime minister carries out administration in line with the constitution and laws and presidential decrees. The ministries of the Government, which numbered 24 in mid, execute credit and monetary policies and defense, foreign policy , and state security functions; ensure the rule of law and respect for human and civil rights; protect property; and take measures against crime.
If the Government issues implementing decrees and directives that are at odds with legislation or presidential decrees, the president may rescind them. The Government formulates the federal budget , submits it to the State Duma, and issues a report on its implementation. In late , the parliament successfully demanded that the Government begin submitting quarterly reports on budget expenditures and adhere to other guidelines on budgetary matters, although the parliament's budgetary powers are limited.
If the State Duma rejects a draft budget from the Government, the budget is submitted to a conciliation commission including members from both branches. Besides the ministries, in the executive branch included eleven state committees and 46 state services and agencies, ranging from the State Space Agency Glavkosmos to the State Committee for Statistics Goskomstat.
There were also myriad agencies, boards, centers, councils, commissions, and committees. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's personal staff was reported to number about 2, in Chernomyrdin, who had been appointed prime minister in late to appease antireform factions, established a generally smooth working relationship with Yeltsin. Chernomyrdin proved adept at conciliating hostile domestic factions and at presenting a positive image of Russia in negotiations with other nations.
However, as Yeltsin's standing with public opinion plummeted in , Chernomyrdin became one of many Government officials who received public blame from the president for failures in the Yeltsin administration. The results of Yabloko some 6 percent and the Union of Right Forces 8. Therefore, the new Russian president and his closest associates objectively had to resolve the issue of adequacy of the whole legislative-executive system and determine the role and place of Russian parties in it.
In actual fact, however, he only gave an impetus to the trends that had begun to shape during the time of his predecessor. The instability of the domestic political and socio-economic situation of the s, coupled with a tentative and fluctuating foreign policy, had certain influence upon the sluggish development of political parties in Russia. The latter were implemented at the government level and endorsed — though not without occasional setbacks — at the Duma i. Under Yeltsin, the political setup comprised parties that supported the government, critically or otherwise, but still they consolidated around it, while the opposition was an indispensable element.
The KPRF held the opposition role fast, but, valuing the benevolence of the authorities, it did not wish to make any resolute moves to take out the criticism of the government beyond parliament. The pro-presidential majority was represented by United Russia, which absorbed the now defunct Yedinstvo and Fatherland — All Russia. As for critics of the authorities, such as the Union of Right Forces SPS and Yabloko, the elections in , , and showed a steady decrease in their influence on the Russian electorate.
The SPS, which earlier leaned onto the middle class and a few Russian oligarchs, gradually lost the trust of this group of voters — especially business people in the center and the provinces — who preferred to deal with prot? Both parties — due to a persistent conflict between their leaderships — never succeeded in resolving the problem of consolidation at parliamentary or presidential elections.
The elections to the State Duma, despite all, possibly justified, doubts regarding the vote-count accuracy, showed that in the conditions of stabilization of the socio-economic situation in Russia and its foreign policy voters tend to back the authorities or those who have government support. The presidential administration also successfully implemented a project for creating another pro-Kremlin party, Just Russia, led by the speaker of the Federation Council the upper house of the Russian parliament Sergei Mironov, who is very loyal to the president.
The hybrid posed as a Russian version of social democracy and gained support in the Socialist International and other European reformist organizations. Candidates and even whole parties that the Russian authorities viewed as suspicious were barred from elections. During election campaigns, the mass media, controlled by the government, regulated the presentation of promotional materials of political parties that were critical of the incumbent regime. Not all parties enjoyed equal conditions when organizing pre-election rallies or marches.
Law-enforcement bodies nipped in the bud the actions of the opposition which, in their very partial view, violated Russian laws. Rulings by courts of any level were overwhelmingly against the political opposition. Prohibitive or, at best, restrictive practices with regard to parties that had not vowed their allegiance to the authorities, were based on the law on political parties, passed by the State Duma in and later repeatedly amended.
In defiance of the universally accepted democratic norms, the law set a minimum number of party members it amounts to 45, at present and obliged parties to have branches in more than a half of the administrative entities of the Russian Federation. Biased checks into compliance with these criteria let the authorities influence the legitimacy of parties that could, at least theoretically, rival pro-Kremlin parties.
Another difference from the European legislation on political parties was the abolition, under a pretext of combating separatism, of the institution of regional parties, which could rival federal parties at local government bodies. In contrast with the Western European political practice, the Russian authorities did not allow parties to be set up along confessional or professional lines. Political activity was banned at enterprises and colleges. On the whole, the law on political parties obviously limited opportunities for Russian citizens to set up political parties that would express public sentiments.
The partly artificial and partly natural decrease in the number of political parties in Russia in the first decade of the 21st century has necessitated limited mutual integration between party leaders and top state officials. The presidential election has brought about two equally powerful figures in the Russian political hierarchy, namely Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. While the president Medvedev in this case has kept his reputation of neutrality, despite formal invitations from United Russia, Putin has developed his own know-how — quasi-party membership: he has agreed to become United Russia chairman without becoming its formal member.
This situation, unprecedented in European political practice, is explained by a desire to have political support for a possible comeback to the top state post and by a fear of being identified with the party, whose functionaries, primarily at the regional and local levels, may become involved in high-profile corruption scandals.
The above suggests the conclusion that the Russian authorities need these pseudo-parties to keep up a semblance of democratic respectability. Thus the parties would channel the spontaneous discontent of the population into moderate parliamentary activity. The authorities believe that this strategy can work in the center, where political activity developed at the turn of the s. Their role is akin to that of a lightning rod — they must deflect spontaneous public protests.
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