presidential republic, Federal Assembly, RSFSR, Russian politics, popular vote
The Russian Federation became an independent state in December 1991 as a result of the collapse of the USSR. During the Communist era the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was the largest of the USSR’s 15 republics. The present Russian Federation occupies the same territory as the former RSFSR. Since independence, Russia has adopted a new constitution and system of government.
Russia is a federal and presidential republic governed under a constitution that took effect in 1993, replacing the 1978 constitution of the RSFSR. The central government is composed of three independent branches: the executive (the president and prime minister), legislative (the Federal Assembly), and judicial. The government is responsible to the president, and the executive branch is considerably more powerful than the other two branches. The constitution is largely the creation of Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who dominated Russian politics from independence until his retirement from politics in 1999. Yeltsin was elected the RSFSR’s first president by popular vote in June 1991, and he retained this position in Russia after the Soviet Union dissolved later that year. In June 1996 he was reelected to a second four-year term, but he resigned the presidency in December 1999.
To some extent presidential decrees can take the place of laws, thereby evading legislative scrutiny. Furthermore, the legislature has only limited rights to investigate government activity. Nevertheless, the legislature can reject the budget, draft legislation, publicize government errors and malpractice, and, at the price of its own dissolution and new parliamentary elections, bring down the government by repeated votes of no confidence.
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