Russia – The Key Institutions

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians approved a new constitution, but they had no democratic traditions. In the 1990s economic hardships and political turmoil increased. Many Russians feared the growing chaos and longed for a return to order. Some would say, President Vladimir Putin is restructuring the federation back to a Soviet style government. Several measures Putin has installed to devolved power unequally across the country can be found in the chart below. As a result of all these changes, the federation is highly centralized.

Changes made by Putin

Creation of super-districts In 2000 seven new federal districts were created in Russia.   Each district was headed by a presidential appointee who supervises the local authorities as Putin sees fit.
Removal of governors A law allows the president to remove from office a governor who refuses to subject local to the national constitution.
Appointment of governors Putin ended the direct election of the 89 regional governors.   Governors are now nominated by the president and then confirmed by regional legislatures.
Changes in the Federation Council The federation Council (the upper legislative house) was made up of governors and Duma heads of each region.   Now acts as a rubber stamp body for the executive branch.
Elimination of single-member-district seats in the Duma 2005 Putin initiated a change to a pure proportional representation electoral system that eliminated candidates that were regionally popular.


Questions to consider:

  • How are Russia’s key institutions structured?
  • Is Russia set up to be democratic?