The Government of the Russian Federation comprises of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman, and the Federal Ministers. The Russian Government work is carried by different Ministers. The chairman enjoys a position similar to that of the Prime Minister in a Parliamentary System of Government. He along with the deputy chairperson and the other ministers constitute the Russian Council of Ministers or the Government of the Russian Federation.
The President with the consent of the State Duma appoints the Chairman. The procedure is that the President, within two weeks of his assuming office, must propose a candidate to the post of Prime Minister to the State Duma. But in case the post of Prime Minister falls vacant due to resignation, death, etc. the President must propose a new candidate to the post within two weeks.
If the candidate proposed by the President receives the approval of the State Duma, then within one week the person concerned will be appointed as the Prime Minister. In case the State Duma rejects the candidate then within one week, the President must come up with a new proposal. The State Duma can reject the nominations twice only. In case it does thrice, the President has the power to go ahead with the appointment of his choice. He will dissolve the State Duma, call for new elections and the voters can decide the matter. (Article 111)
The President on the advice of the Chairman appoints the other Ministers. The Chairman then in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, federal laws, and decrees issued by the President, will organize the Ministry and determine the policies and basic objectives of the Government.
- POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
- EXECUTIVE POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
- LEGISLATIVE POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
- THE LEGISLATURE: THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY
- FINANCIAL POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
- THE RUSSIAN JUDICIARY
- THE SUPREME COURT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
- THE SUPREME ARBITRATION COURT OF RUSSIA
- PROCURATOR GENERAL OF RUSSIA
- FEDERALISM IN RUSSIA
- DISTRIBUTION OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT WORK AND POWERS
- TENURE OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT WORK
POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
The powers and functions of the Government of Russia are:
EXECUTIVE POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
- The Chairman of the Government determines the guidelines of the policy of the government. It must conform to the Constitution of Russia, the federal laws and decrees of the President.
- To adopt measures to ensure the nation’s defense, security, and the implementation of the nation’s foreign policy.
- To implement measures to ensure the rule of law, human rights and freedoms, protection of property and public order and crime control.
- Also, to manage the federal property.
- To ensure the implementation of uniform state policy in the sphere of culture, science, education, health protection, social security, and ecology.
- To exercise any other powers as may be vested in it by the constitution, federal laws, and decrees of the President.
LEGISLATIVE POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
Legislative powers are one of the most vital of Russian Government work. Members of the Council of Ministers can initiate bills in the State Duma or In the Council of the Federation. The Government can issue decrees and orders binding throughout the country. In order to implement the constitution of Russia, the federal laws, and decrees of the President. The President may repeal them if they contravene the provisions of the constitution, the federal laws and the decrees of the President.
THE LEGISLATURE: THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY
Chapter V of the Constitution of Russia deals with the central legislature known as the Federal Assembly, which functions both, as the representative as well as the legislative body of the Russian Federation. The Federal Assembly is a bicameral legislature and consists of two Houses-the Council of the Federation and the State Duma
The Council of the Federation
Composition: The Council of the Federation represents the units of the Federation. As such, each unit of the Federation shall send two representatives to this House. One representative from the legislature and one from the executive body of state authority of the unit concerned. Since there are at present 89 units, its total strength is 178 deputies. In the 1990s this House consisted of the heads of the executive and legislatures from the 89 units of the Federation. The same person cannot be simultaneously a member of both Houses of the Federal Assembly nor of any other legislative or executive bodies of state authority.
The term of the members has not been fixed by the constitution of Russia. But it shall depend on the terms of the bodies that had elected them. Besides, the legislature of the units can recall back its representatives to this House by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority.
The deputies of the House elect from amongst themselves the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the House. The Chairman presides over the sessions and supervises the routine work of the House. In the absence of the chairman, his deputies will take over.
Powers and functions of the Legislature
Like legislatures elsewhere, the Council of the Federation holds parliamentary meetings and form committees and commissions. Which exercise parliamentary supervision over issues within their jurisdiction. The House also has the power to formulate its own rules and regulations and to solve questions pertaining to its internal organization and work.
As per Article 102, the jurisdiction of the Council of the Federation are as follows:
- Giving its approval on changes of borders and boundaries between the units of the Russian federation.
- Approval of the decrees of the President regarding the imposition of martial law in the country.
- Approval of the decrees of the President regarding the imposition of state emergency In the country.
- Deciding on the possibility of using the Armed Forces outside the territory of Russia.
- Calling for the election of the President of Russia.
- Along with the State Duma, it can impeach the President.
- Appointment of the Judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation on the proposals made by the President.
- Appointment and dismissal of the Procurator General of the Russian Federation.
- Also, appointment and removal of the Deputy Chairman of the Accounting Chamber and half of the staff of its auditors.
According to Article 106, all bills considered by the State Duma on the following subjects will have to be compulsorily sent to the Council of the Federation for consideration. These are
- The Federal Budget
- Federal taxes and dues
- Financial, currency, credit, customs regulation, and money issue.
- Ratification and denunciation of international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation.
- Maintenance of the status and protection of the state border of the Russian Federation.
- All matters relating to peace and war.
The Council of the Federation is, therefore, has the power to adopt resolutions on all the issues referred to it. These resolutions should be adopted by a majority of the total number of members of the House, except on matters where the rules provide otherwise.
The above powers and functions of the Council thus reveal that this House needs to represent and to promote the interest of the units vis-a-vis the federation itself.
FINANCIAL POWERS OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
The government shall prepare the Federal Budget and submit to the State Duma for approval. Once the Budget is passed by the State Duma, it shall implement it and submit the report of the accounts to the State Duma.
It is also responsible for the implementation of a uniform financial, credit, and monetary policy throughout the country.
The Government of Russia thus is not like the council of ministers found in other political systems. The role it plays is not that significant because it is not the final decision-making body and cannot follow its own independent policy. In fact, the Government is reduced to a mere executive and administrative agency working under the overall guidance and control of the President.
The principle of ministerial responsibility envisaged by the Constitution of Rusia is also unique in the sense that the responsibility of the government to the State Duma is nominal while its responsibility to the President is real. In Russia, it is the President who ultimately decides who shall form the government and whether the government can continue in office or not. In other words, the government of Russia lives and works under the pleasure of the President
THE RUSSIAN JUDICIARY
The Russian Judiciary is another important Russian Government work. Chapter VII of Section I in articles 118-129 of the constitution of the Russian Federation lay down in detail the Organization and Jurisdiction of the Judiciary.
The President of Russia appoints the Judges of the apex courts and the Council of the Federation ratifies it. While the President is responsible for the appointment of judges of other federal courts according to the federal law.
Features of the Judiciary in Russia:
The Constitution of Russia provides for three sets of courts. Viz. The civil, criminal, and administrative courts. At the apex of these courts stands the Supreme Court. The Arbitration Courts, which are judicial bodies for resolving economic disputes. At the Apex of these courts is the Supreme Arbitration Court. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation which functions as the Federal Court and whose main responsibility is to interpret the constitution.
The constitution of Russia provides that:
- Only duly eligible persons shall be judges. To qualify as a judge, a person must be a citizen of Russia. He/She must be above 25 years of age. They should possess a law degree and has served in the legal profession for not less than five years. The Federal Law may also prescribe additional qualifications from time to time.
- The judges shall be independent and have the power to examine in their own discretion, the validity of any Act or Law, and are responsible for upholding the Supremacy of the constitution.
- Judges once appointed cannot be removed from the office. Except in accordance with the procedure established by the Federal Law.
- Judges enjoy immunity from criminal proceedings against them, except when it is in accordance with the procedure of the Federal Law.
- The constitution prohibits the holding of secret trials. All trials in the law courts must be open. No case can be heard in absentia. The guilt of the accused must prove by the prosecution.
- The constitution accepts the principle of trial by jury. But only those cases stipulated by the federal law.
- The constitution prohibits the creation of extra-ordinary courts.
The Constitution Court of the Russian Federation
This Court consists of 19 judges appointed by the President and ratified by the Council of the Federation. Article 125 lays down the jurisdiction of this court.
Firstly, the Constitutional Court has the power to act as the guardian of the constitution. Therefore, he has the power to:
- Decide cases involving the issue of compliance with the constitution. The court review all federal laws, executive actions of the President, the government of Russia and governments of the constituent units, acts, and laws of the federal legislature and legislatures of the units, the constitutions of the federal units, if they contradict the provisions of the constitution.
- The Constitutional Court has the power to examine the constitutional validity of the agreement made between unit governments as well as the international agreements concluded between Russia with foreign countries. The court shall take up such matters upon the request made either by the President of Russia, or by one-fifth of the members of the State Duma or the Council of the Federation, or by the Supreme Court of Russia, or by the executive and legislative bodies of the government of the units.
Secondly, the Constitutional Court has the power to resolve disputes between the Federal Government and the Government of the Units and between the units themselves.
Thirdly the Constitutional Court is the guardian of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of the people. Therefore, it has the power to review the law and executive actions of both the Federal Government and the Government of the Units and to nullify them if they are in violation of the rights and freedoms of the people.
Fourthly, the Constitutional Court can interpret the constitution if such a request is made by the President, or by the federal legislature or by the government of Russia, or by the legislative bodies of the units.
Fifthly, it participates in the process of impeachment of the President, i.e. to study whether the entire impeachment process has strictly adhered to the constitutionally established procedures or not.
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
The Supreme Court is the highest organ in the Russian Government work. It is the highest judicial body with jurisdiction over all civil, criminal, and administrative matters. The President appoints these Judges and the Council of the Federation approves it. Appeals against the decisions of the lower courts take place in the Supreme Court. Its decisions on the matter shall be final. As the apex court, it also has the power to exercise supervision over the activities of all the courts under its jurisdiction.
THE SUPREME ARBITRATION COURT OF RUSSIA
This is the highest judicial body with jurisdiction over all economic disputes and other cases decided by lower arbitration courts. The Council of the Federation appoints judges of this court after the President of Russia had nominated them.
Besides deciding economic disputes and entertaining appeals against the decisions of the Arbitration Courts. It also exercises supervision over the activities of all lower arbitration courts. This court ensures compliance with the legal procedures and offers clarifications and explanations on questions relating to judicial practices in the lower arbitration courts.
PROCURATOR GENERAL OF RUSSIA
The new Constitution of Russia has continued with the tradition of the earlier Soviet regime by retaining the unique office of the Procurator General, which occupies a prominent position in the judicial system of Russia.
The President appoints the Procurator General and the Council of the Federation appoints it. The Procurator General is responsible for ensuring that all the ministries, state committees, departments, institutions, etc. faithfully execute all laws of the state. If he is satisfied that a department is acting against the law, he can nullify such actions. The constitution authorizes him to ensure that no one is illegally arrested or punish and those uniform procedures are followed in all the law courts of Russia.
Thus, he is the protector of the legal system and who is at once a policeman, an executive officer, and a judge.
FEDERALISM IN RUSSIA
Federalism is one of the most important in the Russian Government’s work. The Constitution of Russia establishes a federal system. It is different from the system of the previous constitution regime. The Russian Federation consists of 89 constituent units, famous to as “subjects of the Federation”. It has six different types – republics, territories, regions, federal cities, autonomous areas, and autonomous regions. The Federation combines both ethnic-federalism and territorial federalism. Therefore, there are both ethical and territorial components in the federal system
According to Article 5(3) of the Constitution of Russia, the federal structure shall be based on the following principles:
- The integrity of the state.
- Uniform system of state power.
- Division of power between the government of the federation and the government of the units.
- Equality and self-determination of people.
- Also, equality amongst the units and
- Equality between the units and the government of the federation.
The federal set up is real and complies with the requirements of the federal system.
Its main features may are as follows:
- The constitution of the Russian Federation is the highest law of the land. Also, it can be amended only by a special procedure which is indeed very rigid.
- There are two sets of governments in Russia viz, the Federal government and the government of the units.
- The Federal Legislature is bi-cameral. The Council of the Federation which is the Upper House consists of representatives elected by the legislature and executive of the units. Thus, it has the power to approve or disapprove the decisions of the federal government which are related to the governance of the units. Thus it protects the interest of the units against federal intrusion
- The constitution also empowers the judiciary to protect the constitution. The Constitutional Court of Russia has the jurisdiction to settle the Federal-Subject dispute. Besides, as a guardian of the constitution, it upholds the supremacy of the constitution. It can nullify the laws and executive decisions if they violate any provision of the constitution.
- The constituent units enjoy considerable autonomy. Thus, the federation guarantees their position. Constituent units are recognized as self-governing entities. All the 21 Republics have their own constitutions while the remaining constituent units (territories, regions, federal cities, autonomous areas, and autonomous regions) have their own charters.
- Because the units are free to adopt their own constitutions or charters. Therefore, they are free to design their own governmental institutions. However, these should not deviate from the Federal laws and the Federal Constitution.
- Each constituent unit has its own name and it is free to change it any time.
- Each Republic can have its own state language
DISTRIBUTION OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT WORK AND POWERS
According to the Constitution of Russian, it lays down a new method, the power of the Russian Government work is distributed between the federal and unit governments. Article 71 of the Constitution assigns to the federal government those powers that concern the country as a whole.
- Adoption and amendment of the constitution and federal laws and supervision over their implementation.
- Establishment and organization of the federal legislative, executive, and judicial branches; the procedure for their organization and activities; formation of federal and state government bodies. Regulation and protection of rights and liberties of the people and national minorities
- Determining the criteria for citizenship Establishment of the basic principles of federal policies and programs in the Sphere of State, economic, ecological, social, cultural, and national development of the Russian Federation. Establishment of the basic legal principles for the unified market; financial, currency, credit and customs regulation; money emission; the basic principles of pricing policy, federal economic services, including federal banks.
- The federal budget, federal taxes, and levies; federal funds for regional development
- Federal power engineering systems, nuclear power, federal transport, railways, information and communication, activities in space.
- Foreign policy and international relations of Russia, international treaties, and issues of war and peace.
- Foreign economic relations of the federation. Defense and security, military production, determination of the procedure for selling and purchasing weapons, ammunition, military equipment’s and other military hardware; production of a poisonous substance, and the procedure for their use.
- Determination of the status and the protection of the State borders, territorial sea, air space, exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf of the Federation.
- Judicial system, public prosecution, criminal procedural and criminal executive legislation, amnesty and remission, civil, civil procedural legislation, legal regulation of intellectual property.
- Meteorological services, standards, metric and time system, goods and cartography, official statistics, and book-keeping.
- State awards and honorary titles of the Federation.
- Federal State services.
On all the above topics the laws of the Federal Government shall be applicable throughout the territory of Russia.
On the following topics, both the Federal Government and the government of the constituent units shall have “Joint Jurisdiction” to:
- Measures to ensure the correspondence of the constitution and laws of the republics and the charters, laws, and other normative legal acts of other units.
- Protection of human and civil rights and freedoms, protection of the rights of national minorities, ensuring lawfulness, law, and order, public security, border zone regimes.
- Issues of possession, utilization, and management of land and of subsurface water and other natural resources.
- Demarcation of state property.
- Use of natural resources, protection of the environment, and provisions for ecological safety, specially protected natural territories, protection of historical and cultural monuments.
- Genera issues of upbringing, education, science, culture, physical education, and sports.
- Coordination of health care issues, protection of the family, maternity, fatherhood and childhood, social protection, and social security.
- Carrying out measures against catastrophes, natural disasters, epidemics, and the rectification of their consequences.
- Establishment of common principles of taxation and levies in the Russian Federation.
- Administrative, administrative procedural, labor, family, housing, land, water, and forest legislation on subsurface resources and on environmental protection.
- Personnel of judicial and law enforcement bodies, lawyers, notaries.
- Protection of the traditional habitat and the traditional way of life of small ethnic groups.
- Establishment of general principles of the organization of the system of State government and local government bodies.
- Coordination of international and foreign economic relations of the constituent units of the Russian Federation, observance of international agreements of the Russian Federation.
The constitution of Russia did not provide any details about the powers of the government of the units. Article 73 simply mentions that those powers which are not there in the above two lists shall be exercised by the government of the units.
The new constitution of Russia has initiated a new phase in the development of federalism in Russia. Unlike the highly centralized federal system of the previous regime, the new regime recognizes the importance of the units, whether big or small, in the governance of the State. It is true that the Federal Government is stronger and its jurisdiction wider but the importance of the unit governments as equal partners in the task of governance of the nation has been given due recognition.
TENURE OF RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT WORK
The government of the Russian Federation enjoys a tenure, which runs concurrently with the tenure of the President. By law, the President shall nominate a new prime minister within two weeks of the inauguration ceremony of the President or the resignation of the previous ministry. Thus with the election of every new President, the Government (Council of Ministers) resigns and the new President constitutes a fresh one. The Government can at any time, submit its resignation before the end of its term. But the President has the right to accept or to reject it.
The State Duma also has the power to pass a vote of no confidence against the Government by a majority of votes of the total number of deputies in the House. But the decision to remove or to retain the Government rests with the President. In case the State Duma expresses no confidence to the government within the next three months, the President has to announce the resignation of the government or he can dissolve the State Duma or both.
Thus the Russian Government work is carried out by different ministers. The President holds an important position in the Russian Government work, he appoints different ministers to his office. Besides, the power and function of the Russian Government work include the Judiciary power, Executive power, Federalism, Supreme Court, etc.
The powers and functions of the Russian Government are distributed between the Federal and Unit Governments. The tenure of the Russian Government is not fixed, it runs simultaneously with the tenure of the President.