Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:23 am

Government

SINCE GAINING ITS INDEPENDENCE with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, Russia (formally, the Russian Federation) has faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a political system to follow nearly seventy-five years of centralized, totalitarian rule. For instance, leading figures in the legislative and executive branches have put forth opposing views of Russia's political direction and the governmental instruments that should be used to follow it. That conflict reached a climax in September and October 1993, when President Boris N. Yeltsin used military force to dissolve the parliament and called for new legislative elections. This event marked the end of Russia's first constitutional period, which was defined by the much-amended constitution adopted by the Russian Republic in 1978. A new constitution, creating a strong presidency, was approved by referendum in December 1993.

With a new constitution and a new parliament representing diverse parties and factions, Russia's political structure subsequently showed signs of stabilization. However, since that time Russians have continued to debate the future of their political system, with Western-style democracy and authoritarianism being two widely considered alternatives. As the transition period extended into the mid-1990s, the power of the national government continued to wane as Russia's regions gained political and economic concessions from Moscow. Although the struggle between the executive and the legislative branches was partially resolved by the new constitution, the two branches continued to represent fundamentally opposing visions of Russia's future. The executive was the center of reform, and the lower house of the parliament, the State Duma, was a bastion of antireform communists and nationalists.

Historical Background

The Soviet Union formally came into being under the treaty of union in December 1922, which was signed by Russia and three other union republics--Belorussia (now Belarus), Ukraine, and what was then the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (an entity including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). Under the treaty, Russia became known officially as the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The treaty of union was incorporated into the first Soviet constitution, which was promulgated in 1924. Nominally, the borders of each subunit were drawn to incorporate the territory of a specific nationality. The constitution endowed the new republics with sovereignty, although they were said to have voluntarily delegated most of their sovereign powers to the Soviet center. Formal sovereignty was evidenced by the existence of flags, constitutions, and other state symbols, and by the republics' constitutionally guaranteed "right" to secede from the union. Russia was the largest of the union republics in terms of territory and population. Ethnic Russians dominated Soviet politics and government; they also controlled local administration.

Because of the Russians' dominance in the affairs of the union, the RSFSR failed to develop some of the institutions of governance and administration that were typical of public life in the other republics: a republic-level communist party, a Russian academy of sciences, and Russian branches of trade unions, for example. As the titular nationalities of the other fourteen union republics began to call for greater republic rights in the late 1980s, however, ethnic Russians also began to demand the creation or strengthening of various specifically Russian institutions in the RSFSR. Certain policies of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in office 1985-91) also encouraged nationalities in the union republics, including the Russian Republic, to assert their rights. These policies included glasnost (literally, public voicing--see Glossary), which made possible open discussion of democratic reforms and long-ignored public problems such as pollution. Glasnost also brought constitutional reforms that led to the election of new republic legislatures with substantial blocs of pro-reform representatives.

In Russia a new legislature, called the Congress of People's Deputies, was elected in March 1990 in a largely free and competitive vote. Upon convening in May, the congress elected Boris N. Yeltsin, a onetime Gorbachev protégé who had been exiled from the top party echelon because of his radical reform proposals, as president of the congress's permanent working body, the Supreme Soviet. The next month, the congress declared Russia's sovereignty over its natural resources and the primacy of Russia's laws over those of the central Soviet government. During 1990-91, the RSFSR enhanced its sovereignty by establishing republic branches of organizations such as the communist party, the Academy of Sciences (see Glossary) of the Soviet Union, radio and television broadcasting facilities, and the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti--KGB; see Glossary). In 1991 Russia created a new executive office, the presidency, following the example of Gorbachev, who had created such an office for himself in 1990. Russia held a popular election that conferred legitimacy on the office, whereas Gorbachev had eschewed such an election and had himself appointed by the Soviet parliament. Despite Gorbachev's attempts to discourage Russia's electorate from voting for him, Yeltsin was popularly elected as president in June 1991, handily defeating five other candidates with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Yeltsin used his role as president to trumpet Russian sovereignty and patriotism, and his legitimacy as president was a major cause of the collapse of the coup by hard-line government and party officials against Gorbachev in August 1991. The coup leaders had attempted to overthrow Gorbachev in order to halt his plan to sign a confederation treaty that they believed would wreck the Soviet Union. Yeltsin defiantly opposed the coup plotters and called for Gorbachev's restoration, rallying the Russian public. Most important, Yeltsin's opposition 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 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. 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 1991.

In late 1991, the Yeltsin government assumed budgetary control over Gorbachev's rump government. Russia did not declare its independence, and Yeltsin continued to hope that some form of confederation could be established. In December, one week after the Ukrainian Republic approved independence by referendum, Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus met to form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary). In response to calls by the Central Asian and other union republics for admission, another meeting was held in Alma-Ata, on December 21, to form an expanded CIS. At that meeting, all parties declared that the 1922 treaty of union creating the Soviet Union was annulled and that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Gorbachev announced the decision officially December 25. 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 1991, during the "honeymoon" period after his resistance to the Soviet coup, Yeltsin convinced the legislature to grant him important special executive powers for one year so that he might implement his economic reforms. In November 1991, he appointed a new government, with himself as acting prime minister, a post he held until the appointment of Yegor Gaydar as acting prime minister in June 1992.

During 1992 Yeltsin and his reforms came under increasing attack by former communist party members and officials, extreme nationalists, and others calling for reform to be slowed or halted in Russia. A locus of this opposition was increasingly the bicameral parliament, whose upper house was the Congress of People's Deputies (CPD) and lower house the Supreme Soviet. The lower house was headed by Ruslan Khasbulatov, who became Yeltsin's most vocal opponent. Under the 1978 constitution, the parliament was the supreme organ of power in Russia. After Russia added the office of president in 1991, the division of powers between the two branches was ambiguous.

Although Yeltsin managed to beat back most challenges to his reform program when the CPD met in April 1992, 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 his attempt to secure confirmation of Gaydar as prime minister was rejected, Yeltsin appointed Viktor Chernomyrdin, whom the parliament approved because he was viewed as more economically conservative than Gaydar. 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 1993 saw increasing tension between Yeltsin and the parliament over the language of the referendum and power sharing. In mid-March 1993, 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 (see The Judiciary, this ch.).

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 April 25, 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 were a serious blow to the prestige of the parliament, a mandate for him to continue in power.

In June 1993, 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 eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, approved a compromise draft constitution in July 1993, incorporating some aspects of the parliament's draft. The parliament failed to approve the draft, however.

In late September 1993, 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. The CPD again met in emergency session, confirmed Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy as president, and voted to impeach Yeltsin. On September 27, military units surrounded the legislative building (popularly known as the White House), but 180 delegates refused to leave the building. 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, 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. This open, violent confrontation remained a backdrop to Yeltsin's relations with the legislative branch for the next three years.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:24 am

The Constitution and Government Structure

During 1992-93 Yeltsin had argued that the existing, heavily amended 1978 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 the body in September 1993. 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 1993 referendum on Russia's new basic law. The referendum vote resulted in approval by 58.4 percent of Russia's registered voters. The announced 54.8 percent turnout met the requirement that at least 50 percent of registered voters participate in the referendum.

The 1993 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. The right to a multiparty political system is upheld. The content of laws must be made 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 languages for use alongside Russian (see The Russian Language, ch. 4).

The Executive Branch

The 1993 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 1958-69) 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.

Presidential Powers

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 1996 and to exercise the powers of the new constitution, although he had been elected under a different constitutional order.

In the 1996 presidential election campaign, some candidates called for reducing or 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.

Several prescribed powers put the president in a superior position vis-à-vis the legislature. The president has broad authority to issue decrees and directives that have the force of law without legislative 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 (as a whole, now called 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 1993 prompted Yeltsin to emplace constitutional obstacles to legislative removal of the president. Under the 1993 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 (see The Judiciary, this ch.). 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. The president submits candidates to the State Duma for the post of chairman of the Russian Central Bank (RCB) and may propose that the State Duma dismiss the chairman (see Banking and Finance, ch. 6). 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 (see The Procuracy, ch. 10). The president also appoints justices of federal district courts.

Informal Powers and Power Centers

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. In early 1996, Russian sources reported the size of the presidential apparatus in Moscow and the localities at more than 75,000 people, most of them employees of state-owned enterprises directly under presidential control. This structure is similar to, but several times larger than, the top-level apparatus of the Soviet-era Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary).

Former first deputy prime minister Anatoliy Chubays was appointed chief of the presidential administration (chief of staff) in July 1996. Chubays replaced Nikolay Yegorov, a hard-line associate of deposed Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov. Yegorov had been appointed in early 1996, when Yeltsin reacted to the strong showing of antireform factions in the legislative election by purging reformers from his administration. Yeltsin now ordered Chubays, 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 Chubays inherited a staff estimated at 2,000 employees. Chubays 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-1992 (see The Security Council, ch. 8). The 1993 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 1996 appointment of former army general and presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed' to head the Security Council improved prospects for the organization's standing. In July 1996, 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 (see The President, ch. 8).

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 200 state industries with about 50,000 employees. The Committee on Operational Questions, until June 1996 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 commander in chief 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 (see Command Structure, ch. 9). The president is empowered to declare national or regional states of martial law, as well as states of emergency. In both cases, both chambers of the parliament must be notified immediately. The Federation Council, the upper chamber, has the power to confirm or reject such a decree. The regime of martial law is defined by federal law. 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 1995 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 (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, ch. 4; Chechnya, ch. 9; Security Operations in Chechnya, ch. 10). In 1994 Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Ingushetia and North Ossetia, two republics beset by intermittent ethnic conflict.

Presidential Elections

The constitution sets few requirements for presidential elections, deferring in many matters to other provisions established by law. The presidential term is set at four years, and the president may serve only two terms. A candidate for president must be a citizen of Russia, at least thirty-five 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 1995, establishes the legal basis for presidential elections. Based on a draft submitted by Yeltsin's office, the new law included many provisions already contained in the Russian Republic's 1990 election law; alterations included the reduction in the number of signatures required to register a candidate from 2 million to 1 million. 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 (CEC) and designate their candidates. These organizations then are permitted to begin seeking the 1 million signatures needed to register their candidates; no more than 7 percent of the signatures may come from a single federal jurisdiction. 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 requires 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 easier, the law required one voting precinct for approximately every 3,000 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 1996 was a major episode in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kommunisticheskaya partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii--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 1991 coup against the Gorbachev government. As a member of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the banned party, Gennadiy Zyuganov had worked hard to gain its relegalization. Despite Yeltsin's objections, the Constitutional Court cleared the way for the Russian communists to reemerge as the KPRF, headed by Zyuganov, in February 1993. Yeltsin temporarily banned the party again in October 1993 for its role in the Supreme Soviet's just-concluded attempt to overthrow his administration. Beginning in 1993, Zyuganov also led efforts by KPRF deputies to impeach Yeltsin. After the KPRF's triumph in the December 1995 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 1995 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 1996, 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. At that point, 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 (see table 24, Appendix).

Turnout in the first round was high, with about 70 percent of 108.5 million voters participating. Total turnout in the second round was nearly the same as in the first round. A contingent of almost 1,000 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 Government (Cabinet)

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. 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 twenty-four in mid-1996, 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 state budget, submits it to the State Duma, and issues a report on its implementation. In late 1994, 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 1996 the executive branch included eleven state committees and forty-six 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 2,000 in 1995.

Chernomyrdin, who had been appointed prime minister in late 1992 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 1995, Chernomyrdin became one of many Government officials who received public blame from the president for failures in the Yeltsin administration. As part of his presidential campaign, Yeltsin threatened to replace the Chernomyrdin Government if it failed to address pressing social welfare problems in Russia. After the mid-1996 presidential election, however, Yeltsin announced that he would nominate Chernomyrdin to head the new Government.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:24 am

The Executive Branch

The 1993 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 1958-69) 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.

Presidential Powers

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 1996 and to exercise the powers of the new constitution, although he had been elected under a different constitutional order.

In the 1996 presidential election campaign, some candidates called for reducing or 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.

Several prescribed powers put the president in a superior position vis-à-vis the legislature. The president has broad authority to issue decrees and directives that have the force of law without legislative 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 (as a whole, now called 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 1993 prompted Yeltsin to emplace constitutional obstacles to legislative removal of the president. Under the 1993 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 (see The Judiciary, this ch.). 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. The president submits candidates to the State Duma for the post of chairman of the Russian Central Bank (RCB) and may propose that the State Duma dismiss the chairman (see Banking and Finance, ch. 6). 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 (see The Procuracy, ch. 10). The president also appoints justices of federal district courts.

Informal Powers and Power Centers

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. In early 1996, Russian sources reported the size of the presidential apparatus in Moscow and the localities at more than 75,000 people, most of them employees of state-owned enterprises directly under presidential control. This structure is similar to, but several times larger than, the top-level apparatus of the Soviet-era Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary).

Former first deputy prime minister Anatoliy Chubays was appointed chief of the presidential administration (chief of staff) in July 1996. Chubays replaced Nikolay Yegorov, a hard-line associate of deposed Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov. Yegorov had been appointed in early 1996, when Yeltsin reacted to the strong showing of antireform factions in the legislative election by purging reformers from his administration. Yeltsin now ordered Chubays, 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 Chubays inherited a staff estimated at 2,000 employees. Chubays 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-1992 (see The Security Council, ch. 8). The 1993 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 1996 appointment of former army general and presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed' to head the Security Council improved prospects for the organization's standing. In July 1996, 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 (see The President, ch. 8).

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 200 state industries with about 50,000 employees. The Committee on Operational Questions, until June 1996 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 commander in chief 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 (see Command Structure, ch. 9). The president is empowered to declare national or regional states of martial law, as well as states of emergency. In both cases, both chambers of the parliament must be notified immediately. The Federation Council, the upper chamber, has the power to confirm or reject such a decree. The regime of martial law is defined by federal law. 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 1995 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 (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, ch. 4; Chechnya, ch. 9; Security Operations in Chechnya, ch. 10). In 1994 Yeltsin declared a state of emergency in Ingushetia and North Ossetia, two republics beset by intermittent ethnic conflict.

Presidential Elections

The constitution sets few requirements for presidential elections, deferring in many matters to other provisions established by law. The presidential term is set at four years, and the president may serve only two terms. A candidate for president must be a citizen of Russia, at least thirty-five 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 1995, establishes the legal basis for presidential elections. Based on a draft submitted by Yeltsin's office, the new law included many provisions already contained in the Russian Republic's 1990 election law; alterations included the reduction in the number of signatures required to register a candidate from 2 million to 1 million. 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 (CEC) and designate their candidates. These organizations then are permitted to begin seeking the 1 million signatures needed to register their candidates; no more than 7 percent of the signatures may come from a single federal jurisdiction. 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 requires 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 easier, the law required one voting precinct for approximately every 3,000 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 1996 was a major episode in the struggle between Yeltsin and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Kommunisticheskaya partiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii--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 1991 coup against the Gorbachev government. As a member of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the banned party, Gennadiy Zyuganov had worked hard to gain its relegalization. Despite Yeltsin's objections, the Constitutional Court cleared the way for the Russian communists to reemerge as the KPRF, headed by Zyuganov, in February 1993. Yeltsin temporarily banned the party again in October 1993 for its role in the Supreme Soviet's just-concluded attempt to overthrow his administration. Beginning in 1993, Zyuganov also led efforts by KPRF deputies to impeach Yeltsin. After the KPRF's triumph in the December 1995 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 1995 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 1996, 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. At that point, 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 (see table 24, Appendix).

Turnout in the first round was high, with about 70 percent of 108.5 million voters participating. Total turnout in the second round was nearly the same as in the first round. A contingent of almost 1,000 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 Government (Cabinet)

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. 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 twenty-four in mid-1996, 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 state budget, submits it to the State Duma, and issues a report on its implementation. In late 1994, 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 1996 the executive branch included eleven state committees and forty-six 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 2,000 in 1995.

Chernomyrdin, who had been appointed prime minister in late 1992 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 1995, Chernomyrdin became one of many Government officials who received public blame from the president for failures in the Yeltsin administration. As part of his presidential campaign, Yeltsin threatened to replace the Chernomyrdin Government if it failed to address pressing social welfare problems in Russia. After the mid-1996 presidential election, however, Yeltsin announced that he would nominate Chernomyrdin to head the new Government.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:25 am

The Parliament

The 628-member parliament, termed the Federal Assembly, consists of two chambers, the 450-member State Duma (the lower house) and the 178-member Federation Council (the upper house). Russia's legislative body was established by the constitution approved in the December 1993 referendum. The first elections to the Federal Assembly were held at the same time--a procedure criticized by some Russians as indicative of Yeltsin's lack of respect for constitutional niceties. Under the constitution, the deputies elected in December 1993 were termed "transitional" because they were to serve only a two-year term. In April 1994, legislators, Government officials, and many prominent businesspeople and religious leaders signed a "Civic Accord" proposed by Yeltsin, pledging during the two-year "transition period" to refrain from violence, calls for early presidential or legislative elections, and attempts to amend the constitution. This accord, and memories of the violent confrontation of the previous parliament with Government forces, had some effect in softening political rhetoric during the next two years.

The first legislative elections under the new constitution included a few irregularities. The republics of Tatarstan and Chechnya and Chelyabinsk Oblast boycotted the voting; this action, along with other discrepancies, resulted in the election of only 170 members to the Federation Council. However, by mid-1994 all seats were filled except those of Chechnya, which continued to proclaim its independence. All federal jurisdictions participated in the December 1995 legislative races, although the fairness of voting in Chechnya was compromised by the ongoing conflict there.

The Federal Assembly is prescribed as a permanently functioning body, meaning that it is in continuous session except for a regular break between the spring and fall sessions. This working schedule distinguishes the new parliament from Soviet-era "rubber-stamp" legislative bodies, which met only a few days each year. The new constitution also directs that the two chambers meet separately in sessions open to the public, although joint meetings are held for important speeches by the president or foreign leaders.

Deputies of the State Duma work full-time on their legislative duties; they are not allowed to serve simultaneously in local legislatures or hold Government positions. A transitional clause in the constitution, however, allowed deputies elected in December 1993 to retain their Government employment, a provision that allowed many officials of the Yeltsin administration to serve in the parliament. After the December 1995 legislative elections, nineteen Government officials were forced to resign their offices in order to take up their legislative duties.

Despite its "transitional" nature, the Federal Assembly of 1994-95 approved about 500 pieces of legislation in two years. When the new parliament convened in January 1996, deputies were provided with a catalog of these laws and were directed to work in their assigned committees to fill gaps in existing legislation as well as to draft new laws. A major accomplishment of the 1994-95 legislative sessions was passage of the first two parts of a new civil code, desperately needed to update antiquated Soviet-era provisions. The new code included provisions on contract obligations, rents, insurance, loans and credit, partnership, and trusteeship, as well as other legal standards essential to support the creation of a market economy. Work on several bills that had been in committee or in floor debate in the previous legislature resumed in the new body. Similarly, several bills that Yeltsin had vetoed were taken up again by the new legislature.

Structure of the Federal Assembly

The composition of the Federation Council was a matter of debate until shortly before the 1995 elections. The legislation that emerged in December 1995 over Federation Council objections clarified the constitution's language on the subject by providing ex officio council seats to the heads of local legislatures and administrations in each of the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, hence a total of 178 seats. As composed in 1996, the Federation Council included about fifty chief executives of subnational jurisdictions who had been appointed to their posts by Yeltsin during 1991-92, then won popular election directly to the body in December 1993. But the law of 1995 provided for popular elections of chief executives in all subnational jurisdictions, including those still governed by presidential appointees. The individuals chosen in those elections then would assume ex officio seats in the Federation Council.

Each legislative chamber elects a chairman to control the internal procedures of the chamber. The chambers also form committees and commissions to deal with particular types of issues. Unlike committees and commissions in previous Russian and Soviet parliaments, those operating under the 1993 constitution have significant responsibilities in devising legislation and conducting oversight. They prepare and evaluate draft laws, report on draft laws to their chambers, conduct hearings, and oversee implementation of the laws. As of early 1996, there were twenty-eight committees and several ad hoc commissions in the State Duma, and twelve committees and two commissions in the Federation Council. The Federation Council has established fewer committees because of the part-time status of its members, who also hold political office in the subnational jurisdictions. In 1996 most of the committees in both houses were retained in basic form from the previous parliament. According to internal procedure, no deputy may sit on more than one committee. By 1996 many State Duma committees had established subcommittees.

Committee positions are allocated when new parliaments are seated. The general policy calls for allocation of committee chairmanships and memberships among parties and factions roughly in proportion to the size of their representation. In 1994, however, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (Liberal'no-demokraticheskaya partiya Rossii--LDPR), which had won the second largest number of seats in the recent election, was denied all but one key chairmanship, that of the State Duma's Committee on Geopolitics.

Legislative Powers

The two chambers of the Federal Assembly possess different powers and responsibilities, with the State Duma the more powerful. The Federation Council, as its name and composition implies, deals primarily with issues of concern to the subnational jurisdictions, such as adjustments to internal borders and decrees of the president establishing martial law or states of emergency. As the upper chamber, it also has responsibilities in confirming and removing the procurator general and confirming justices of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Superior Court of Arbitration, upon the recommendation of the president. The Federation Council also is entrusted with the final decision if the State Duma recommends removing the president from office. The constitution also directs that the Federation Council examine bills passed by the lower chamber dealing with budgetary, tax, and other fiscal measures, as well as issues dealing with war and peace and with treaty ratification.

In the consideration and disposition of most legislative matters, however, the Federation Council has less power than the State Duma. All bills, even those proposed by the Federation Council, must first be considered by the State Duma. If the Federation Council rejects a bill passed by the State Duma, the two chambers may form a conciliation commission to work out a compromise version of the legislation. The State Duma then votes on the compromise bill. If the State Duma objects to the proposals of the upper chamber in the conciliation process, it may vote by a two-thirds majority to send its version to the president for signature. The part-time character of the Federation Council's work, its less developed committee structure, and its lesser powers vis-à-vis the State Duma make it more a consultative and reviewing body than a law-making chamber.

Because the Federation Council initially included many regional administrators appointed by Yeltsin, that body often supported the president and objected to bills approved by the State Duma, which had more anti-Yeltsin deputies. The power of the upper chamber to consider bills passed by the lower chamber resulted in its disapproval of about one-half of such bills, necessitating concessions by the State Duma or votes to override upper-chamber objections. In February 1996, the heads of the two chambers pledged to try to break this habit, but wrangling appeared to intensify in the months that followed.

The State Duma confirms the appointment of the prime minister, although it does not have the power to confirm Government ministers. The power to confirm or reject the prime minister is severely limited. According to the 1993 constitution, the State Duma must decide within one week to confirm or reject a candidate once the president has placed that person's name in nomination. If it rejects three candidates, the president is empowered to appoint a prime minister, dissolve the parliament, and schedule new legislative elections.

The State Duma's power to force the resignation of the Government also is severely limited. It may express a vote of no-confidence in the Government by a majority vote of all members of the State Duma, but the president is allowed to disregard this vote. If, however, the State Duma repeats the no-confidence vote within three months, the president may dismiss the Government. But the likelihood of a second no-confidence vote is virtually precluded by the constitutional provision allowing the president to dissolve the State Duma rather than the Government in such a situation. The Government's position is further buttressed by another constitutional provision that allows the Government at any time to demand a vote of confidence from the State Duma; refusal is grounds for the president to dissolve the Duma.

The Legislative Process

Draft laws may originate in either legislative chamber, or they may be submitted by the president, the Government, local legislatures, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, or the Superior Court of Arbitration. Draft laws are first considered in the State Duma. Upon adoption by a majority of the full State Duma membership, a draft law is considered by the Federation Council, which has fourteen days to place the bill on its calendar. Conciliation commissions are the prescribed procedure to work out differences in bills considered by both chambers.

A constitutional provision dictating that draft laws dealing with revenues and expenditures may be considered "only when the Government's findings are known" substantially limits the Federal Assembly's control of state finances. However, the legislature may alter finance legislation submitted by the Government at a later time, a power that provides a degree of traditional legislative control over the purse. The two chambers of the legislature also have the power to override a presidential veto of legislation. The constitution provides a high hurdle for an override, however, requiring at least a two-thirds vote of the total number of members of both chambers.

Clashes of Power, 1993-96

Although the 1993 constitution weakened their standing vis-à-vis the presidency, the parliaments elected in 1993 and 1995 nonetheless used their powers to shape legislation according to their own precepts and to defy Yeltsin on some issues. An early example was the February 1994 State Duma vote to grant amnesty to the leaders of the 1991 Moscow coup. Yeltsin vehemently denounced this action, although it was within the constitutional purview of the State Duma. In October 1994, both legislative chambers passed a law over Yeltsin's veto requiring the Government to submit quarterly reports on budget expenditures to the State Duma and adhere to other budgetary guidelines.

In the most significant executive-legislative clash since 1993, the State Duma overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the Government in June 1995. The vote was triggered by a Chechen rebel raid into the neighboring Russian town of Budennovsk, where the rebels were able to take more than 1,000 hostages. Dissatisfaction with Yeltsin's economic reforms also was a factor in the vote. A second motion of no confidence failed to carry in early July. In March 1996, the State Duma again incensed Yeltsin by voting to revoke the December 1991 resolution of the Russian Supreme Soviet abrogating the 1922 treaty under which the Soviet Union had been founded. That resolution had prepared the way for formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

In his February 1996 state of the federation speech, Yeltsin commended the previous parliament for passing a number of significant laws, and he noted with relief the "civil" resolution of the June 1995 no-confidence conflict. He complained, however, that the Federal Assembly had not acted on issues such as the private ownership of land, a tax code, and judicial reform. Yeltsin also was critical of legislation that he had been forced to return to the parliament because it contravened the constitution and existing law, and of legislative attempts to pass fiscal legislation in violation of the constitutional stricture that such bills must be preapproved by the Government. He noted that he would continue to use his veto power against ill-drafted bills and his power to issue decrees on issues he deemed important, and that such decrees would remain in force until suitable laws were passed. The State Duma passed a resolution in March 1996 demanding that Yeltsin refrain from returning bills to the parliament for redrafting, arguing that the president was obligated either to sign bills or to veto them.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:26 am

The Judiciary

The Ministry of Justice administers Russia's judicial system. The ministry's responsibilities include the establishment of courts and the appointment of judges at levels below the federal district courts. The ministry also gathers forensic statistics and conducts sociological research and educational programs applicable to crime prevention.

Many Western observers consider the judicial and legal systems weak links in Russia's reform efforts, stymieing privatization, the fight against crime and corruption, the protection of civil and human rights, and the general ascendancy of the rule of law. Many judges appointed by the regimes of Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82) and Yuriy V. Andropov (in office 1982-84) remained in place in the mid-1990s. Such arbiters were trained in "socialist law" and had become accustomed to basing their verdicts on telephone calls from local CPSU bosses rather than on the legal merits of cases.

For court infrastructure and financial support, judges must depend on the Ministry of Justice, and for housing they must depend on local authorities in the jurisdiction where they sit. In 1995 the average salary for a judge was US$160 per month, substantially less than the earnings associated with more menial positions in Russian society. These circumstances, combined with irregularities in the appointment process and the continued strong position of the procurators, deprived judges in the lower jurisdictions of independent authority (see The Procuracy, ch. 10).

Judicial Reform

In 1992 a new Law on the Status of Judges was passed. The law was intended to confer greater status on the judicial profession by raising salaries and benefits. The 1993 constitution provides for some degree of judicial reform by establishing an independent judiciary and specifying that justices may only be removed or their powers curtailed or terminated in accordance with the law. Sitting justices also enjoy immunity from prosecution. However, judicial reform has moved slowly despite those two legislative developments, and in 1996 the judiciary remained subject to the influence of security agencies and politicians. A large case backlog, trial delays, and lengthy pretrial detention also remain problems (see How the System Works, ch. 10).

According to a provision approved in 1994, trial by jury may take place in specific types of cases, including those involving the death penalty. This reform supersedes in part the older system of trial by judges and lay "people's assessors" who usually acceded to the judges' verdicts. In practice, trial by jury has made little headway in the hidebound court system. In 1995 jury trials were only available in nine of the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, although other jurisdictions sought permission to introduce them.

In the mid-1990s, a total of about 14,000 judges were active in approximately 2,500 courts at all judicial levels. To be eligible for appointment as a judge, an individual must be at least twenty-five years of age, have a higher education in law, and have at least five years of experience in the legal profession.

Structure of the Judiciary

The twenty-three-member Supreme Court is Russia's highest court of origination and of appeals for consideration of criminal, civil, and administrative cases. Its chairman in 1996, Vyacheslav Lebedev, had been a judge in Leningrad and Moscow for nineteen years before his appointment in 1989. The Superior Court of Arbitration, which is headed by a board of one chairman and four deputy chairmen, is the highest court for the resolution of economic disputes. Courts of arbitration also exist at lower jurisdictional levels. The nineteen-member Constitutional Court decides whether federal laws, presidential and federal decrees and directives, and local constitutions, charters, and laws comply with the federal constitution. Treaties between the national government and a regional jurisdiction and between regional jurisdictions are subject to the same oversight. The Constitutional Court also resolves jurisdictional disputes between federal or local organs of power, and it also may be asked to interpret the federal constitution. The Constitutional Court temporarily ceased to exist after Yeltsin dissolved the parliament in October 1993. Although prescribed in the new constitution, the court remained moribund in 1994 because no new law was passed governing its procedures and composition. In 1995 the Federation Council finally approved appointments to the Constitutional Court, and it resumed operation that year.

Under the constitution, judges of the three highest courts serve for life and are appointed by the Federation Council after nomination by the president. The president appoints judges at the next level, the federal district courts. The minister of justice is responsible for appointing judges to regional and city courts. However, in practice many appointments below the national level still are made by the chief executives of subnational jurisdictions, a practice that has perpetuated local political influence on judges' decisions.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:26 am

Local and Regional Government

In the Soviet period, some of Russia's approximately 100 nationalities were granted their own ethnic enclaves, to which varying formal federal rights were attached (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). Other smaller or more dispersed nationalities did not receive such recognition. In most of these enclaves, ethnic Russians constituted a majority of the population, although the titular nationalities usually enjoyed disproportionate representation in local government bodies. Relations between the central government and the subordinate jurisdictions, and among those jurisdictions, became a political issue in the 1990s.

The Russian Federation has made few changes in the Soviet pattern of regional jurisdictions. The 1993 constitution establishes a federal government and enumerates eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions, including twenty-one ethnic enclaves with the status of republics. There are ten autonomous regions, or okruga (sing., okrug ), and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Yevreyskaya avtonomnaya oblast', also known as Birobidzhan). Besides the ethnically identified jurisdictions, there are six territories (kraya ; sing., kray ) and forty-nine oblasts (provinces). The cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are independent of surrounding jurisdictions; termed "cities of federal significance," they have the same status as the oblasts. The ten autonomous regions and Birobidzhan are part of larger jurisdictions, either an oblast or a territory (see fig. 1). As the power and influence of the central government have become diluted, governors and mayors have become the only relevant government authorities in many jurisdictions.

The Federation Treaty and Regional Power

The Federation Treaty was signed in March 1992 by President Yeltsin and most leaders of the autonomous republics and other ethnic and geographical subunits. The treaty consisted of three separate documents, each pertaining to one type of regional jurisdiction. It outlined powers reserved for the central government, shared powers, and residual powers to be exercised primarily by the subunits. Because Russia's new constitution remained in dispute in the Federal Assembly at the time of ratification, the Federation Treaty and provisions based on the treaty were incorporated as amendments to the 1978 constitution. A series of new conditions were established by the 1993 constitution and by bilateral agreements.

Local Jurisdictions under the Constitution

The constitution of 1993 resolved many of the ambiguities and contradictions concerning the degree of decentralization under the much-amended 1978 constitution of the Russian Republic; most such solutions favored the concentration of power in the central government. When the constitution was ratified, the Federation Treaty was demoted to the status of a subconstitutional document. A transitional provision of the constitution provided that in case of discrepancies between the federal constitution and the Federation Treaty, or between the constitution and other treaties involving a subnational jurisdiction, all other documents would defer to the constitution.

The 1993 constitution presents a daunting list of powers reserved to the center. Powers shared jointly between the federal and local authorities are less numerous. Regional jurisdictions are only allocated powers not specifically reserved to the federal government or exercised jointly. Those powers include managing municipal property, establishing and executing regional budgets, establishing and collecting regional taxes, and maintaining law and order (see table 25, Appendix). Some of the boundaries between joint and exclusively federal powers are vaguely prescribed; presumably they would become clearer through the give and take of federal practice or through adjudication, as has occurred in other federal systems. Meanwhile, bilateral power-sharing treaties between the central government and the subunits have become an important means of clarifying the boundaries of shared powers. Many subnational jurisdictions have their own constitutions, however, and often those documents allocate powers to the jurisdiction inconsistent with provisions of the federal constitution. As of 1996, no process had been devised for adjudication of such conflicts.

Under the 1993 constitution, the republics, territories, oblasts, autonomous oblast, autonomous regions, and cities of federal designation are held to be "equal in their relations with the federal agencies of state power"; this language represents an attempt to end the complaints of the nonrepublic jurisdictions about their inferior status. In keeping with this new equality, republics no longer receive the epithet "sovereign," as they did in the 1978 constitution. Equal representation in the Federation Council for all eighty-nine jurisdictions furthers the equalization process by providing them meaningful input into legislative activities, particularly those of special local concern (see The Parliament, this ch.). However, Federation Council officials have criticized the State Duma for failing to represent regional interests adequately. In mid-1995 Vladimir Shumeyko, then speaker of the Federation Council, criticized the current electoral system's party-list provision for allowing some parts of Russia to receive disproportionate representation in the lower house. (In the 1995 elections, Moscow Oblast received nearly 38 percent of the State Duma's seats based on the concentration of party-list candidates in the national capital.) Shumeyko contended that such misallocation fed potentially dangerous popular discontent with the parliament and politicians (see The Elections of 1995, this ch.).

Despite constitutional language equalizing the regional jurisdictions in their relations with the center, vestiges of Soviet-era multitiered federalism remain in a number of provisions, including those allowing for the use of non-Russian languages in the republics but not in other jurisdictions, and in the definitions of the five categories of subunit. On most details of the federal system, the constitution is vague, and clarifying legislation had not been passed by mid-1996. However, some analysts have pointed out that this vagueness facilitates resolution of individual conflicts between the center and the regions.

Power Sharing

Flexibility is a goal of the constitutional provision allowing bilateral treaties or charters between the central government and the regions on power sharing. For instance, in the bilateral treaty signed with the Russian government in February 1994, the Republic of Tatarstan gave up its claim to sovereignty and accepted Russia's taxing authority, in return for Russia's acceptance of Tatar control over oil and other resources and the republic's right to sign economic agreements with other countries. This treaty has particular significance because Tatarstan was one of the two republics that did not sign the Federation Treaty in 1992. By mid-1996 almost one-third of the federal subunits had concluded power-sharing treaties or charters.

The first power-sharing charter negotiated by the central government and an oblast was signed in December 1995 with Orenburg Oblast. The charter divided power in the areas of economic and agricultural policy, natural resources, international economic relations and trade, and military industries. According to Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the charter gave Orenburg full power over its budget and allowed the oblast to participate in privatization decisions. By early 1996, similar charters had been signed with Krasnodar Territory and Kaliningrad and Sverdlovsk oblasts. In the summer of 1996, Yeltsin wooed potential regional supporters of his reelection by signing charters with Perm', Rostov, Tver', and Leningrad oblasts and with the city of St. Petersburg, among others, granting these regions liberal tax treatment and other economic advantages.

By the mid-1990s, regional jurisdictions also had become bolder in passing local legislation to fill gaps in federation statutes rather than waiting for the Federal Assembly to act. For example, Volgograd Oblast passed laws regulating local pensions, the issuance of promissory notes, and credit unions. The constitution upholds regional legislative authority to pass laws that accord with the constitution and existing federal laws.

Presidential Power in the Regions

The president retains the power to appoint and remove presidential representatives, who act as direct emissaries to the jurisdictions in overseeing local administrations' implementation of presidential policies. The power to appoint these overseers was granted by the Russian Supreme Soviet to Yeltsin in late 1991. The parliament attempted several times during 1992-93 to repeal or curtail the activities of these appointees, whose powers are only alluded to in the constitution. The presence of Yeltsin's representatives helped bring out the local vote on his behalf in the 1996 presidential election.

The governments of the republics include a president or prime minister (or both) and a regional council or legislature. The chief executives of lower jurisdictions are called governors or administrative heads. Generally, in jurisdictions other than republics the executive branches have been more sympathetic to the central government, and the legislatures (called soviets until late 1993, then called dumas or assemblies) have been the center of whatever separatist sentiment exists. Under the power given him in 1991 to appoint the chief executives of territories, oblasts, autonomous regions, and the autonomous oblast, Yeltsin had appointed virtually all of the sixty-six leaders of those jurisdictions. By contrast, republic presidents have been popularly elected since 1992. Some of Yeltsin's appointees have encountered strong opposition from their legislatures; in 1992 and 1993, in some cases votes of no-confidence brought about popular elections for the position of chief executive.

After the Moscow confrontation of October 1993, Yeltsin sought to bolster his regional support by dissolving the legislatures of all federal subunits except the republics (which were advised to "reform" their political systems). Accordingly, in 1994 elections were held in all the jurisdictions whose legislatures had been dismissed. In some cases, that process placed local executives at the head of legislative bodies, eliminating checks and balances between the branches at the regional level.

Election results in the subnational jurisdictions held great significance for the Yeltsin administration because the winners would fill the ex officio seats in the Federation Council, which until 1996 was a reliable bastion of support. The election of large numbers of opposition candidates would end the Federation Council's usefulness as a balance against the anti-Yeltsin State Duma and further impede Yeltsin's agenda. In 1995 some regions held gubernatorial elections to fill the administrative posts originally granted to Yeltsin appointees in 1991. Faced with an escalating number of requests for such elections, Yeltsin decreed December 1996 as the date for most gubernatorial and republic presidential elections. This date was confirmed by a December 1995 Federation Council law. The decree also set subnational legislative elections for June or December 1997. (In July 1996, the State Duma advanced these elections to late 1996.) Observers noted that by calling for most of these elections to take place after the presidential election, Yeltsin prevented unfavorable outcomes from possibly reducing his reelection chances--even though voter apathy after the presidential election had the potential to help opposition candidates.

The Separatism Question

In the first half of the 1990s, observers speculated about the possibility that some of the jurisdictions in the federation might emulate the former Soviet republics and demand full independence (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). Several factors militate against such an outcome, however. Russia is more than 80 percent ethnic Russian, and most of the thirty-two ethnically based jurisdictions are demographically dominated by ethnic Russians, as are all of the territories and oblasts. Many of the subnational jurisdictions are in the interior of Russia, meaning that they could not break away without joining a bloc of seceding border areas, and the economies of all such jurisdictions were thoroughly integrated with the national economy in the Soviet system. The 1993 constitution strengthens the official status of the central government in relation to the various regions, although Moscow has made significant concessions in bilateral treaties. Finally, most of the differences at the base of separatist movements are economic and geographic rather than ethnic.

Advocates of secession, who are numerous in several regions, generally appear to be in the minority and are unevenly dispersed. Some regions have even advocated greater centralization on some matters. By 1996 most experts believed that the federation would hold together, although probably at the expense of additional concessions of power by the central government. The trend is not toward separatism so much as the devolution of central powers to the localities on trade, taxes, and other matters.

Some experts observe that the Russian republics pressing claims for greater subunit rights fall into three groups. The first is composed of those jurisdictions most vociferous in pressing ethnic separatism, including Chechnya and perhaps other republics of the North Caucasus, and the Republic of Tyva. The second group consists of large, resource-rich republics, including Karelia, Komi, and Sakha (Yakutia). Their differences with Moscow center on resource control and taxes rather than demands for outright independence. A third, mixed group consists of republics along the Volga River, which straddle strategic water, rail, and pipeline routes, possess resources such as oil, and include large numbers of Russia's Muslim and Buddhist populations. These republics include Bashkortostan, Kalmykia, Mari El, Mordovia, Tatarstan, and Udmurtia.

In addition to the republics, several other jurisdictions have lobbied for greater rights, mainly on questions of resource control and taxation. These include Sverdlovsk Oblast, which in 1993 proclaimed itself an autonomous republic as a protest against receiving fewer privileges in taxation and resource control than the republics, and strategically vital Maritime (Primorskiy) Territory on the Pacific coast, whose governor in the mid-1990s, Yevgeniy Nazdratenko, defied central economic and political policies on a number of well-publicized issues.

Some limited cooperation has occurred among Russia's regional jurisdictions, and experts believe there is potential for even greater coordination. Eight regional cooperation organizations have been established, covering all subnational jurisdictions except Chechnya: the Siberian Accord Association; the Central Russia Association; the Northwest Association; the Black Earth Association; the Cooperation Association of North Caucasus Republics, Territories, and Oblasts; the Greater Volga Association; the Ural Regional Association; and the Far East and Baikal Association. The Federation Council formally recognized these interjurisdictional organizations in 1994. Expansion of the organizations' activities is hampered by economic inequalities among their members and by inadequate interregional transportation infrastructure, but in 1996 they began increasing their influence in Moscow.

Regional and ethnic conflicts have encouraged proposals to abolish the existing subunits and resurrect the tsarist-era guberniya , or large province, which would incorporate several smaller subunits on the basis of geography and population rather than ethnic considerations. Russian ultranationalists such as Vladimir Zhirinovskiy have been joined in supporting this proposal by some officials of the national Government and oblast and territory leaders who resent the privileges of the republics. Some have called for these new subunits to be based on the eight interregional economic associations.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:27 am

Political Parties and Legislative Elections

After early 1990, when the Soviet constitution was amended to delete the provision that the CPSU was the "leading and guiding" force in the political system, many political groups began to operate more openly in Russia. The constitution of 1993 guarantees Russians' right to a multiparty system. Political party development has lagged, however, because many Russians associate parties with the repressiveness of the CPSU in the Soviet era. In the mid-1990s, most of Russia's parties were based on personal followings, had few formal members, and lacked broad geographical bases and coherent platforms. Prior to the legislative elections of 1993 and 1995, much shifting occurred as parties formed and abandoned coalitions, sometimes involving partners with which they had little in common politically. Even the KPRF, direct heir to the CPSU, waffled on many central economic and foreign policy issues in the 1996 presidential campaign. One observer noted that for most Russian voters, the two major sides in the 1996 election had no identification with broad national issues; they were simply the anti-Yeltsins and the anti-communists. Experts identified the lack of focused national party organizations as a key factor in the diffusion of political power to subnational jurisdictions in the mid-1990s (see The Federation Treaty and Regional Power, this ch.).

The Elections of 1993

In November 1993, Yeltsin issued decrees prescribing procedures for multiparty parliamentary elections, which would be the first since tsarist times. Besides setting the configuration of the new bicameral parliament, the Yeltsin plan called for half of the 450 State Duma deputies to be elected from national party lists with representation proportional to the overall votes received by each party. The other half would be elected locally, in single-member districts (see The Parliament, this ch.). The party-list procedure, a new feature in Russian elections, was designed to strengthen the identification of candidates with parties and to foster the concept of the multiparty system among the electorate. To achieve proportional representation in the State Duma, a party would need to gain at least 5 percent of the nationwide vote.

The CEC declared thirteen parties eligible for the party list, and 2,047 individual candidates were selected to compete for Federation Council seats (490) and State Duma single-mandate seats (1,567), allotted to individuals regardless of their parties' overall performance vis-à-vis the 5 percent threshold. Although the CEC reported some voting irregularities, the vast majority of the more than 1,000 international observers termed the elections largely free and fair, with some reservations expressed about manipulation of results. In several republics, the referendum results were invalidated by low turnouts caused by boycotts, or because voters failed to approve the constitution.

Many experts divided the myriad parties of the 1993 elections roughly into three main blocs: pro-Yeltsin reformists, centrists advocating a slower pace of reform, and hard-liners opposing reforms. The main reformist party was Russia's Choice, led by former prime minister Yegor Gaydar. The main centrist parties were the Yavlinskiy-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc, commonly referred to as Yabloko (the Russian word for apple), headed by economist Grigoriy Yavlinskiy and former ambassador to the United States Vladimir Lukin, and the Democratic Party of Russia, headed by Nikolay Travkin. The main hard-line parties were the LDPR, the KPRF, headed by Gennadiy Zyuganov, and the Agrarian Party, which represented state- and collective-farm interests and was headed by Mikhail Lapshin.

In 1993 the strongly nationalist, antireform LDPR emerged with the largest vote on the State Duma party lists, followed by Russia's Choice. By faring much better in the single-member districts, however, Russia's Choice emerged with sixty-six seats, the most in the State Duma. The LDPR followed with sixty-four seats. Altogether, reformist and centrist parties emerged with the greatest number of seats in the State Duma, followed by nationalist and antireform parties. Some 127 State Duma seats were won by individuals not formally affiliated with a party, many of whom were former CPSU members.

Of the thirteen parties participating in the December 1993 legislative elections on the party lists, eight exceeded the 5 percent threshold to win seats in the State Duma. In addition, all thirteen parties, as well as some local parties, won seats in single-member districts. Once the new parliament was seated, the parties aggregated into several factions. A number of deputies coalesced into the Union of December 12 faction. Sixty-five centrist deputies formed the New Regional Policy faction, and some LDPR members shifted their affiliation to the KPRF or the Agrarian Party, or supported former vice president Aleksandr Rutskoy's Concord in the Name of Russia policy agenda.

The Elections of 1995

In June 1995, the Federal Assembly passed--and Yeltsin signed--a new law to govern the next legislative elections, which were planned for December. This legislation echoed many provisions of Yeltsin's 1993 electoral decree, such as the division of the State Duma seats into party-list and single-member districts. Yeltsin had urged a change in this provision because he feared that Zhirinovskiy's LDPR might again gain many seats in the party-list voting, but the Duma had insisted on retaining the even-split voting procedure that gave such meaning to the party lists. The 1993 election had demonstrated that voting by party lists generally encouraged party formation and program pledges, whereas voting by district encouraged loyalty by deputies to local interests. The 5 percent threshold for party-list voting also was retained. In September 1995, Yeltsin decreed that the Federation Council seats would not be filled by regional elections; instead, the upper house would be composed of regional and republic executive and legislative leaders--a group with which Yeltsin had close contacts and from which he could expect strong loyalty. All of the suggested provisions were incorporated into the new election law (see The Parliament, this ch.).

In anticipation of the legislative races, early in 1995 Yeltsin encouraged the creation of two political parties that would lend support to his policies and form the basis of a stable, moderate, two-party system in Russia. One party would be led by State Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin, the other by Chernomyrdin (who by that time had proven himself a loyal and competent manager of the Yeltsin agenda). The unnamed "Rybkin bloc" was designed to attract centrist and leftist voters, and Chernomydin's party, Our Home Is Russia, was envisioned as a right-center coalition. Both parties would occupy the moderate band of the political spectrum. Having attracted the support of many Russian Government ministers and regional leaders, Our Home Is Russia became known as the "party of power." The Rybkin bloc, which was supposed to serve as the loyal opposition in the parliament, attracted several tiny parties, but major parties and groups refused to join the bloc because of opposition to some or all of Yeltsin's reforms. As a result, Rybkin's unification effort received little practical support.

To qualify for the party-list voting, parties were required to obtain 200,000 signatures, with no more than 7 percent of signatures coming from any single federal jurisdiction. The latter requirement was designed to encourage the emergence of broad-based rather than regionally based parties. Candidates wishing to run in single-member districts had to obtain signatures from at least 1 percent, or about 5,000, of their district's voters. Forty-three parties succeeded in getting on the party-list ballot, and more than 2,600 candidates were registered in 225 single-member district races. Many individuals listed on the party ballot also ran in single-member districts. This was especially true of locally popular candidates whose minor parties could not surpass the 5 percent national threshold needed to get on the national party-list ballot.

In the legislative elections of December 1995, voter turnout was high (about 65 percent), and international observers again evaluated the balloting as largely free and fair. The second such evaluation in two years boosted the image of electoral democratization in Russia. Dissatisfaction with the Yeltsin administration was conspicuous in the election results, but the showing of the reformist and centrist parties that supported some or all of Yeltsin's program was undermined by the disunity of that part of the political spectrum. Among the forty-three parties participating in the party-list vote, only four met the 5 percent requirement to win seats for their national party lists, although several other parties won seats in individual races. In the aggregate of party-list voting, reformists and centrists performed much better than they did in the single-member phase, receiving almost as many votes as the hard-liners. But pro-reform and centrist votes were dispersed among a multitude of parties, negating almost two-thirds of the party-list votes they received and costing these parties dozens of seats by keeping them below the 5 percent threshold. In contrast, the KPRF and its allies suffered much less from such dispersion and gained many seats from the party-list vote.

Although centrists and reformers split single-mandate seats about evenly with the antireform parties, nonaffiliated candidates gained more than one-third of these seats. About 40 percent of the sitting State Duma deputies were reelected, and fifteen Federation Council deputies entered the State Duma, providing some continuity of legislative expertise. Under a provision of the new constitution, Government officials were obligated to resign their positions if elected to the parliament.

Overall, reformist parties did not do as well in the 1995 elections as they had in 1993. Gaydar's party, now renamed Russia's Democratic Choice, failed to meet the 5 percent requirement. Altogether, reformists and centrists won 129 seats in the State Duma (less than one-third of the total), and independent, nominally nonaffiliated candidates won seventy-seven seats (about one-sixth). The KPRF and its ally, the Agrarian Party, gained 179 seats as the KPRF achieved a plurality of seats, and the anti-Yeltsin nationalist parties won another sixty-five. Zhirinovskiy's LDPR received much less electoral support than in 1993, gaining 11 percent of the vote--a distant second to the KPRF--and fifty-one seats (see table 26, Appendix).

More than in the 1993 alignment, parties now tended to be either for or against reform, with former centrists moving either left or right. In the 1996 State Duma, the main reformist parties were Chernomyrdin's "official" Our Home Is Russia, the main advocate of Yeltsin's programs, and Yavlinskiy's Yabloko coalition, which was highly critical of Yeltsin's approach to reform but supportive of reform principles. The main hard-line, antireform parties in the Duma were the KPRF, headed by Zyuganov, and the LDPR, headed by Zhirinovskiy.

Altogether, in 1996 communist, nationalist, and agrarian parties controlled slightly more than half the State Duma seats. Their strength enabled them to pass some bills and resolutions if they voted together, but they still lacked enough votes to override Federation Council votes or presidential vetoes. The numerical proportions also did not permit antireformists to approve changes in the constitution, which require a two-thirds majority, that is, at least 300 votes of the full chamber.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:28 am

Civil Rights

The constitution of 1993 includes a wide range of provisions guaranteeing the civil and human rights of Russia's citizens. However, inadequacies in the criminal justice system and other institutional flaws have hindered consistent observance of those provisions.

General Civil Rights Guarantees

The constitution establishes wide-ranging civil and human rights and social guarantees, several of which remained unattainable or unrealized in the mid-1990s. Social guarantees have been difficult to meet because of Russia's persistent economic crisis. Such guarantees include the right to a minimum wage and welfare for the "family, mothers, fathers, children, invalids, and elderly citizens." Protection of unemployed people and the right to a safe and hygienic work environment also are proclaimed. The right to housing is guaranteed, including free or low-cost housing for needy people and others. The right to free health care and secondary-level education is also upheld, in an echo of the promises of Soviet constitutions. Perhaps in recognition of the economic burden of such widely inclusive state social guarantees, the constitution calls for adult children to care for disabled parents, and it safeguards the existence of private charitable and insurance operations, which were forbidden or discouraged under the Soviet system.

Equality before the law is proclaimed regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, national origin, property and position, ideological conviction, membership in public associations, and other attributes and circumstances. Freedom of religion and conscience is upheld, and alternatives to military service are to be accepted, although neither the law in force nor military practice has upheld the latter provision. Individual privacy is protected, including that of correspondence and other communications and of housing. Nationality rights are upheld, including the right to use a language other than Russian in communications and education. The constitution asserts freedom of internal and foreign travel and the right to choose one's place of domicile. No one may be expelled or exiled from Russia. Freedom of the press is upheld, and censorship is prohibited. People have the right to assemble peaceably and to hold peaceful meetings and demonstrations of all types. The right to own, dispose of, and inherit private property, including land, is upheld, and private property may not be expropriated except with full compensation.

Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights may only be restricted upon the legal proclamation of a national or local state of emergency. Even in a state of emergency, however, the constitution prescribes that no one may be tortured or denied judicial rights, although an individual may be held for an unspecified period without being charged. The right of dual citizenship for ethnic Russians residing in the near abroad (the other fourteen former republics of the Soviet Union) is proclaimed. Presumably, such a right also exists for non-Russians residing in Russia. The constitution also includes a pledge that Russia will protect its citizens abroad. However, most member nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have resisted Russia's demand that they grant ethnic Russians such dual citizenship, viewing it as an infringement on their sovereignty (see Migration, ch. 3).

Massive civil and human rights violations have been committed in the Republic of Chechnya by Russian military units as well as by Chechen guerrillas, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries and the displacement of more than 300,000 people. Official human rights monitoring of the conflict was undermined in 1995 when the State Duma dismissed human rights activist Sergey Kovalev as its ombudsman for human rights. Kovalev was removed because of his strident condemnation of Russian military and police atrocities in Chechnya. Kovalev resigned as chairman of the presidential Human Rights Commission in January 1996, accusing Yeltsin of backtracking on human rights in Chechnya and throughout Russia. No figure of similar stature had filled Kovalev's position as of mid-1996.

Criminal Justice Protections

According to Russia's 1993 constitution, the death penalty is applicable to some crimes "until its abolition" by federal law. Although the annual number of executions reportedly had decreased by mid-1996, the public outcry at Russia's growing crime wave made the death penalty a politically sensitive issue. In cases where the death penalty may be applied, the accused is guaranteed the right to trial by jury, although this provision was only partly in force in the mid-1990s (see How the System Works, ch. 10). A condition of Russia's admittance to the Council of Europe (see Glossary), which it achieved in January 1996, was abolition of the death penalty within three years. Much international pressure was applied toward that end both before and after Russia was approved for council membership.

For all types of crime, punishment without trial and prosecution ex post facto are forbidden. The constitution also bars torture and other "brutal or humiliating" treatment and punishment. Citizens have nominal protection against arbitrary arrest without a judicial decision, and they may not be held for more than forty-eight hours without being charged, except in a state of emergency. However, this constitutional provision has been directly contravened by Yeltsin's 1994 decree on combating organized crime, which allows police to detain persons suspected of involvement with organized crime for as much as thirty days without a criminal charge and without access to a lawyer. This decree was used widely in 1995 to detain persons without judicial permission beyond the mandated maximum period. Russian human rights monitors reported in 1995 that the few detainees who were aware of their rights and complained of violations were subject to beatings. Nonetheless, about one in six cases of arrest was appealed to the courts in 1995, and judges released one in six of those on grounds of insufficient evidence or breach of procedure (see Criminal Law Reform in the 1990s, ch. 10).

According to the constitution, judicial sentences may be appealed to higher courts, as may decisions of government organs at all levels. Those organs may be sued for damages caused by action or inaction. Nominally, all citizens are guaranteed their "day in court," have the right to choose their own defense counsel, or may be provided with free legal counsel if required. Legal aid may be requested from the earliest moment a person is detained, placed in custody, or indicted, a change from previous practice whereby the individual could receive counsel only upon being formally charged and after being interrogated. Few citizens are aware of these rights, however. A person is considered innocent until proven guilty, but where jury trials do not occur, the accused generally are expected to prove their innocence rather than defend themselves against prosecutors' efforts to prove their guilt. In cases where a judge imposes sentence, the average rate of conviction is more than 99 percent, as opposed to an 84 percent conviction rate in jury trials.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

Postby admin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:28 am

The Media

For most of the Soviet era, the news media were under full state control. The major newspapers, such as Pravda , Izvestiya , Krasnaya zvezda , and Komsomol'skaya pravda , were the official organs of party or government agencies, and radio and television were state monopolies. In the late 1980s, these monopolies began to weaken as stories such as the Chernobyl' disaster reached the public in detail, an occurrence that would not have been possible before glasnost . Then, after seventy-five years of state control, the media began an era of significantly less restricted activity in 1992.

In the post-Soviet era, the news media have played a central role in forming public opinion toward critical national concerns, including the Chechnya conflict, the economic crisis, and government policies and personalities. In the environment of freewheeling expression of opinion, public figures such as Boris Yeltsin and government actions such as the Chechnya campaign have received ruthless criticism, and the deterioration of Russia's environment, public health, national defense, and national economy has been exposed thoroughly, if not always accurately. However, the national and local governments have exerted heavy pressure on the print and broadcast media to alter coverage of certain issues. Because most media enterprises continue to depend on government support, such pressure often has been effective.

The Print Media

In the first post-Soviet years, major newspapers presented varied approaches to critical issues. Among the most influential titles were Izvestiya (in Soviet times, the organ of the Politburo, but after 1991 an independent periodical owned by its employees, with a daily circulation in 1995 of about 604,765); Nezavisimaya gazeta , 1995 daily circulation about 50,400; and the weekly Argumenty i fakty (1995 circulation about 3.2 million) (see table 27, Appendix). But by the mid-1990s, a new atmosphere of intense competition was bringing rapid change to the print media. In 1995 an estimated 10,000 newspapers and periodicals were registered, including more than twenty daily newspapers published in Moscow. The thousands of small regional newspapers that appeared after 1991 were plagued by low advertising revenue, high production costs, an increasingly apathetic public, and intense pressure from local authorities to slant content. But in the mid-1990s, local newspapers gained readers because of increased regional independence; they also benefited from the competition that television gave to national newspapers in providing the regions with news from Moscow and the rest of the world.

In 1995 the Moscow daily Nezavisimaya gazeta , which for five years remained true to its name (the independent newspaper) by refusing advertising and state subsidies, was forced to close because circulation had dropped to about 35,000 and many top journalists had left for more lucrative positions. The paper subsequently resumed publication under the ownership of a large bank consortium (the Unified Bank) with close ties to the Government. Pravda , formerly the main organ of the CPSU and still representing antireform positions, underwent numerous crises in the early and mid-1990s. Purchased by a Greek publishing firm in 1992, its circulation dropped from about 10 million in the 1980s to around 165,000 in 1995. After changing its name to Pravda 5 in mid-1996, the newspaper broadened its procommunist position somewhat. The decline of Pravda left Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra as the chief organs of the antireform faction of the legislature.

Official organs still have a place in the media, however; Rossiyskaya gazeta , the heavily subsidized organ of the Government, publishes most of that body's official documents, including laws and decrees. Rossiyskiye vesti , organ of the office of the president, reaches about 150,000 Russians daily. Both newspapers feature strongly pro-Government positions. The third official national newspaper, Krasnaya zvezda , representing the Ministry of Defense, acquired a reputation in the 1990s as strongly pro-Yeltsin.

Although Russia's newspapers offer readers diverse opinions on most issues, the quality of Russian journalism remains relatively low, and objectivity is random. Journalists generally do not verify their sources fully or are denied access to relevant individuals. A 1995 official report on press freedom indicated that reporters without special connections have no better access to state officials than their counterparts did in the Soviet era. Most newspapers make no clear distinction between objective reports and editorials, and, according to a 1995 report by the trade magazine Zhurnalist , most have some connection to a political party or faction.

The Broadcast Media

In 1992 some 48.5 million radios were in use in Russia. Domestic radio programming is provided by two state communications companies, the Federal Television and Radio Service of Russia and the All-Russian Television and Radio Company. The Voice of Russia (Golos Rossii) is the main foreign-language broadcast service, providing programs in thirty languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, Japanese, Farsi, and Spanish.

In the 1990s, television reached an increasing number of Russians with increasingly diversified programming. In 1992 about 55 million televisions were in use. For most Russians, television is the chief source of news. Television channels and transmission facilities gradually have been privatized, although in 1996 the most prominent "private" stockholders were entrepreneurs with strong ties to the Yeltsin administration. The largest of the four major networks, Russian Public Television (Obshchestvennoye rossiyskoye televideniye--ORT, formerly Ostankino), which reaches an estimated 200 million people, remained 51 percent state-owned after partial privatization in 1994. However, ORT has offered regular programs, such as one hosted by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that are critical of the Government. ORT's news broadcasts tend to favor Government policies.

The second-largest network, the All-Russian Television and Radio Company (Vserossiyskaya gosudarstvennaya teleradiokompaniya, commonly called Russia Television--RTV), was fully state-owned in 1996 and reaches about 140 million viewers with relatively balanced news coverage. The largest private network is Independent Television (Nezavisimoye televideniye--NTV), which reaches about 100 million people. NTV has received praise in the West for unbiased news reporting. Its Chechnya coverage forced other networks to abandon pro-Government reporting of the conflict. The TV-6 commercial network brings its estimated 70 million viewers in European Russia mainly entertainment programs. Its founder, Eduard Sagalayev, was strongly influenced by an earlier partnership with United States communications magnate Ted Turner.

Besides the four networks, state-run channels are offered in every region, and an estimated 400 private television stations were in operation in 1995. More than half of such stations produce their own news broadcasts, providing mainly local rather than national or international coverage. The Independent Broadcasting System was established in 1994 to link some fifty stations with shared programming.

By 1995 the administration of state television had become heavily politicized. After the 1995 legislative elections, Yeltsin dismissed Oleg Poptsov, the head of RTV, for having aired what the president considered unfairly negative coverage of his administration. In exerting such overt political pressure, Yeltsin likely had in mind the prominent role television would play in the 1996 presidential election. In fact, all candidates in that election were represented in an unprecedented wave of televised campaign advertising, some of which was quite similar to that in the United States and little of which provided useful information to voters. Convinced that their independence would be jeopardized if KPRF candidate Gennadiy Zyuganov won, television broadcasters provided virtually no coverage of his main campaign events, and even the independent NTV aided Yeltsin by muting its criticism during the election. Critical coverage of the Chechen conflict and other issues resumed once Yeltsin's reelection seemed assured, however.
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Re: Russia: A Country Study, edited by Glenn E. Curtis

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Foreign Relations

ONCE A PARIAH DENIED DIPLOMATIC RECOGNITION by most countries, the Soviet Union progressed from being an outsider in international organizations and negotiations during the interwar period to being one of the arbiters of Europe's fate after World War II. The Soviet Union had official relations with the majority of nations by the late 1980s. In the 1970s, after achieving rough nuclear parity with the United States, the Soviet Union proclaimed that its own involvement was essential to the solution of any major international problem. At that time, regimes in countries containing about one-quarter of the world's population emulated the socialist form of political and economic organization proselytized by the Soviet Union. That web of influence was built upon the political doctrine of class struggle and the geopolitical philosophy of a proletarian internationalism that would link together the workers of the world. Although the spirit of those concepts remained at the base of the Soviet Union's international attitudes even in 1991, pragmatic considerations often were the primary determinants of policy in specific cases.

Among the many bureaucracies involved in the formation and execution of Soviet foreign policy, the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary) determined the major policy guidelines. The foremost objectives of that foreign policy were the maintenance and enhancement of national security and the maintenance of the hegemony gained over Eastern Europe following World War II. Relations with the United States and with Western Europe also were of major concern; the strategic significance of individual nations in the so-called Third World of developing nations determined, at least partly, the relations with those nations.

The Twenty-Seventh Party Congress of the CPSU in 1986 produced the last formal enumeration of Soviet foreign policy goals. That listing included ensuring favorable external conditions for building communism in the Soviet Union; eliminating the threat of world war; disarmament; strengthening the "world socialist system"; developing equal and friendly relations with so-called liberated (Third World) countries; peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries; and solidarity with communist and revolutionary-democratic parties, the international workers' movement, and national liberation struggles.

In the years that followed, the emphasis and ranking of these priorities changed in response to domestic and international stimuli. After Mikhail S. Gorbachev assumed power as CPSU general secretary in 1985, for instance, some Western analysts discerned in the ranking of priorities a deemphasis of Soviet support for national liberation movements. As such shifts occurred, two basic goals of Soviet foreign policy remained constant: national security (safeguarding CPSU rule at home and maintenance of adequate military forces) and influence over Eastern Europe.

After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia claimed to be the legal successor to Soviet foreign policies. That position would allow Russia to assume a ready-made role as a leading world power. At the outset, Russia accepted or built upon many tenets of the conciliatory foreign policy toward the West of Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who had termed his revised policy "New Thinking." New Thinking defined international politics in common ethical and moral terms rather than military force, largely abandoning the Marxist-Leninist (see Glossary) idea that peaceful coexistence was merely a breathing spell in the worldwide class war. The most important practical result of Gorbachev's approach came in 1989 with the release of the Soviet Union's forty-four-year hold on the states of Eastern Europe. Superpower competition between the Soviet Union and the United States, known as the Cold War, gave way to increased cooperation with the United States on issues such as arms reduction, peace in the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf War.

In the early period after Russia became independent, Russian foreign policy built upon Gorbachev's legacy by decisively repudiating Marxism-Leninism as a putative guide to action, emphasizing cooperation with the West in solving regional and global problems, and soliciting economic and humanitarian aid from the West in support of internal reforms. In that early period, Russian foreign policy defended itself against arguments from former communists and ultranationalists that Russia had capitulated to the West and should renounce entanglements such as Western foreign aid. Russia also faced the challenge of reconciling the international commitments and obligations it inherited from the former Soviet Union with new and sometimes conflicting Russian interests, such as the desire to sell arms and missile technology abroad. Although Russia's leaders described Europe as its natural ally, they grappled with defining new relations with the East European (now termed Central European) states, the new states formed upon the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and Western Europe. In Asia, Russia faced territorial claims from China and Japan at the same time that closer Russian relations with these states and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Taiwan became possible. Several challenges emerged in Russia's relations with the fourteen other former Soviet republics, now called the "near abroad." Among the most serious confrontations were Russia's dispute with Ukraine over the status of Crimea, long and complicated conflicts between Armenia and Azerbaijan and within Georgia, and numerous new economic frictions. The problem of discrimination and ethnic violence against the 25 million ethnic Russians living in the new states was a growing concern in relations with several of the former Soviet republics, especially those in Central Asia. Russia also faced adapting to and competing with changing regional politics along its borders, such as the growing ties between the Central Asian states and Iran and Turkey.
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