Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

The Federation Council is the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly, the Russian parliament. It is composed of two representatives from every constituent entity of the Russian Federation with one representing the legislative (representative) authority and the other the executive authority, as well as the representatives of the Russian Federation appointed by the President of the Russian Federation whose number shall not exceed ten percent of Federation Council members representing legislative (representative) and executive authorities of Russia’s constituent entities.

Federal Law on the Status of a Member of the Federation Council and a Deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Composition

Under Article 95, Part 2 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation is composed of two representatives from every constituent entity of the Russian Federation with one representing the legislative authority and the other the executive authority.

The current procedure for establishing the Federation Council is set forth in Federal Law No. 229-FZ dated 3 December 2012, On the Composition of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

Rules of Procedure of the Federation Council

(as amended on 17 January 2018)

The Federation Council decides independently on matters within its purview as per the Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal constitutional laws and federal laws. The Federation Council adopts its Rules of Procedure and decides on its internal regulations.

History

History

It is impossible to understand the role and place of popular representation in modern Russia’s political system without a comprehensive evaluation of the deep history of national legislative institutions: from the Veche, the Boyar Duma, the pre-revolution State Dumas and State Council, to Soviet-era sovereignty of the people and modern forms of parliamentary democracy.

It is impossible to understand the role and place of popular representation in modern Russia’s political system without a comprehensive evaluation of the deep history of national legislative institutions: from the Veche, the Boyar Duma, the pre-revolution State Dumas and State Council, to Soviet-era sovereignty of the people and modern forms of parliamentary democracy.

The Veche, an assembly of all free individuals, was the first form of direct popular participation in state affairs. Chronicles mention Veche assemblies in every ancient Russian princedom. Veche participants could discuss any issue affecting the state, but most frequently took decisions on inviting princes to rule and later expelling them, on military campaigns and the signing of peace treaties.

 

The Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation was established under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, ratified 12 December 1993 in a nationwide referendum. The Federation Council is the upper house of parliament representing the interests of regions at the federal level and reflecting the federative nature of the Russian state.

The Federal Assembly’s bicameral structure is deeply rooted in Russian history and worldwide parliamentary traditions. Today, almost 80 federative and unitary countries have bicameral parliaments.

Over the ages, the upper chambers of many national parliaments had evolved from assemblies of councilors, subordinated to national rulers, and had class or estate based representation. Russian princedoms had their own Dumas, subordinated to local princes and consisting of the princes’ close supporters and comrades-in-arms. These Dumas played the part of permanent councils. After the establishment of the Tsardom of Muscovy, the Boyar Duma succeeded the Grand Prince’s Duma. It existed until the late 17th century and was later reorganised as the Senate. Under Emperor Peter the Great, the Senate was expected to serve as the institution of supreme state authority in his absence.

Meetings of Boyars, priests, representatives of the government service class (primarily from among the nobility) and the merchant class became the first representative institutions. Russian tsars convened these meetings from the mid-16th century until the 1670s and were later referred to as the Councils of the Estates. The Councils elected tsars, declared war, signed peace treaties, accepted new territories into the Russian state and reviewed taxation issues. The functions of the Councils of the Estates, their prerogatives and terms of reference virtually coincided with the list of problems and issues reviewed by parliaments of the estates in Western and Central European countries. However, as absolutism grew stronger in Russia, the Councils of the Estates lost relevance by the late 17th century.

The first attempt to establish a bicameral parliament, similar to West European parliaments, was made in the early 19th century. Acting on orders from Russian Emperor Alexander I, prominent statesman Mikhail Speransky drafted the concept of a bicameral legislature that was to have consisted of the State Duma and the State Council headed by the Emperor. Established in 1810, the State Council became the supreme legislature of the Russian Empire. Its members debated all bills and other legislative acts pending approval by the Emperor. But the State Duma was never established.

The idea of a bicameral national legislature was almost realised in the last years of life of the reformer Tsar Alexander II. The assassination of Alexander II and the subsequent counter-reforms of Alexander III delayed the country’s movement toward this goal.

In the early 1900s, all strata of Russian society started demanding the creation of a national representative and legislative institution. In the autumn of 1905 and the winter of 1906, Emperor Nicholas II met society halfway and issued edicts and decrees establishing the State Duma and the upgraded State Council, which had existed for almost 100 years by that time. In his 20 February 1906 edict, Nicholas II stated expressly that, after the convocation of the State Council and the State Duma, no law could enter into force without their prior approval.

Representation in the State Council, the upper house of the first Russian parliament, was determined by a mixed formula. The Tsar appointed 50 percent of its members, and the rest were either elected under the territorial principle (one State Council member from each Gubernia/Regional Council of Estates) or under the estate-corporate principle (six priests from the Russian Orthodox Church, 18 members from Gubernia/Regional nobility societies, six members from the Russian Academy of Sciences and from universities, six members from industrial corporations and six more members from commercial corporations).

The first Russian parliament lasted for just over ten years. A new system of representative institutions called Soviets (Councils) evolved during the February and October revolutions of 1917.

Starting in 1924, the Congress of the Soviets de jure exercised legislative and representative functions in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Congress established two houses, the Soviet (Council) of the Union and the Soviet (Council) of Nationalities, for the purposes of its regular work. The former’s members represented Union republics in direct proportion to their populations. The latter consisted of five members from each autonomous region and one member from each republic.

The Constitution of 1936 retained the bicameral parliament and replaced two-stage elections of house members with direct elections. It also stipulated a mechanism of conciliation proceedings in the event of disagreements between the houses and even the possibility of dissolving both houses if they failed to reach consensus. The Supreme Soviet (Parliament) of the USSR also consisted of two houses having equal rights: the Soviet (Council) of the Union and the Soviet (Council) of Nationalities. This system existed until the breakup of the USSR.

The 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation formalised the Federal Assembly’s status, the country’s bicameral parliament and set forth the Federation Council’s powers and terms of reference. Under the Constitution’s Article 95, the Federation Council comprises two representatives from every Russian region: one from the representative authority and one from the executive authority.

Deputies of the upper house of parliament of the first convocation were elected under a proportional majority system in double-member electoral districts, established within the administrative borders of Russian regions (one electoral district in every Russian region). Prospective Federation Council members were nominated by groups of voters and election blocs. Under interim provisions of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, deputies of the Federation Council of the first convocation exercised their powers on a part-time basis. On 13 January 1994, Vladimir Shumeiko was elected the first Speaker of the Federation Council.

In late 1995, the federal law On the Procedure of Establishing the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation was passed. According to its provisions, the Federation Council comprised two representatives from every constituent entity of the Russian Federation: the head of the regional legislature and the head of the executive authority, ex-officio. On 23 February 1996, Yegor Stroyev, Head of the Oryol Region Administration, was elected Speaker of the Federation Council.

On 8 August 2000, the new federal law On the Procedure of Establishing the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, entered into force. According to its provisions, a representative of a Russian region’s executive authority in the Federation Council was appointed by the chief government official in that constituent entity (head of the supreme executive authority of a constituent entity). A Federation Council member representing a legislative (representative) authority of a constituent entity was elected by that same body for the entire duration of its term. If a regional legislature was formed on a rotating basis, a Federation Council member was appointed for the duration of one term of its elected deputies. Federation Council members exercised their powers on a full-time basis.

On 5 December 2001, Sergei Mironov, the representative of the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly in the Federation Council, was elected Speaker of the Federation Council.

On 4 February 2009, the Federation Council approved the federal law On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation in Connection with Changes in the Procedure of Establishing the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Under the new law, a citizen of the Russian Federation who is a deputy of a legislative (representative) authority of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation, or a deputy of a municipal entity’s representative body located in a Russian region can be elected or appointed to the Federation Council. The law stipulated a transition period during which incumbent Federation Council members were able to complete their term. The new procedure for establishing the Federation Council entered into force as of 1 January 2011.

On 10 September 2011, Valentina Matviyenko, representative of the executive authority of the city of St Petersburg, was elected Speaker of the Federation Council.

The Federation Council was restructured in November 2011, with ten new committees replacing its 16 committees and 11 permanent commissions.

In 2012, members of a Federation Council working group drafted the federal law On the Procedure of Establishing the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, which sought to encourage more active involvement of Russian citizens in establishing the “house of the regions.” Society supported this initiative, and the President of the Russian Federation submitted the draft law to the State Duma in June.

On 20 November 2012, the State Duma passed the new federal law On the Procedure of Establishing the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. The Federation Council passed the document on 28 November, with the President of Russia signing it on 3 December.

Under the law, only a deputy of a legislative authority of a constituent entity can represent it in the Federation Council. The regional parliament, by a majority of votes, appoints the representative in the month after the first sitting of a new convocation of the regional parliament.

When electing the chief government official of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation (head of the supreme executive authority of the constituent entity of the Russian Federation) each candidate to this office submits to the relevant election commission a list of three candidates who meet the requirements and limitations as per the Federal Law, and one of these three persons is appointed to the Federation Council as a representative of the executive authority of the relevant constituent entity of the Russian Federation, if the candidate to the office of chief government official in the region is elected.

The law states expressly that a Russian citizen upon reaching 30 years or older and living in the region in question for the past five years can become a member of the Federation Council. The so-called residency requirement does not apply to Federal Assembly members, persons occupying state positions or civil-service positions of the relevant Russian region for a period of five years or those who had occupied state positions or civil-service positions of the relevant Russian region for the same time period pending their nomination as prospective Federation Council members.

The law requires candidates to have an unimpeachable reputation. A Russian citizen convicted for grave or particularly grave crimes, or for extremist crimes, as stipulated by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, or whose conviction remains in effect, cannot become a prospective Federation Council member.

The new procedure for establishing the Federation Council entered into force on 1 January 2013. A member of the Federation Council who has been elected or appointed pending the law’s entry into force shall continue to exercise authority until a new member of the Federation Council has been vested with authority under the procedure stipulated by the law after scheduled elections to the relevant government body of the Russian region have been held.

In 2012, the Council of Legislators of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation was established on the initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Council members aimed to create a common legal infrastructure, to coordinate law-making activities of regional parliaments and to exchange experience. Council members held their first meeting on 31 May 2012 and decided to approve the regulations of the Council of Legislators of the Russian Federation and to establish the Council’s Presidium. The second meeting of members of the Council of Legislators involving President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin took place on 13 December 2012. Meeting participants discussed the tasks of legislative (representative) authorities to achieve strategic long-term goals of the Russian Federation’s socioeconomic development.

The Federation Council has initiated major international projects and events of major importance for the Russian Federation’s economic development and for expanded integration processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

The St Petersburg International Economic Forum was established in 1997 on the initiative of the Federation Council. The forum’s main tasks included large scale non-politicised discussions involving representatives of government, the academic and business communities, and focusing on the economic development of Russia and neighbouring states as well as efforts to improve the investment climate in Russian regions. From 2006, as per instructions of President Putin, the St Petersburg International Economic Forum has operated under the Government of the Russian Federation, with the participation of the Federation Council.

The Baikal Economic Forum began work in September 2000 and became a significant event in the economic life of Siberia, the Russian Far East and Russia as a whole. This was a biannual event until 2010. In 2010, it was decided to hold the Forum each year. In September 2012, Ulan-Ude hosted the international economic conference New Economy − New Approaches as part of the Baikal Economic Forum.

Other major international forums take place under the auspices of the Federation Council, such as the international congress Road Safety for the Safety of Life (held since 2007, including the fourth congress in 2012) and the Nevsky International Ecological Congress (first held in 2008, involves the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of CIS and PACE countries and is sponsored by the Russian Government). The 5th Nevsky International Ecological Congress was held in May 2012.

In 2009, the Federation Council initiated the annual parliamentary forum Historical and Cultural Heritage of Russia in the city of Kostroma. In October 2012, Kostroma hosted the fourth forum.

Parliaments play a key role in launching constructive dialogue and strengthening a practical approach toward international cooperation. The importance of their contribution to international politics continues to increase with every passing year. The Federation Council is actively involved in the work of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly as part of the parliamentary delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Valentina Matviyenko chairs the Council of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

The Federation Council’s membership in the Association of European Senates serves as international recognition of its merits. On 28 June 2002, Association members met in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and decided to admit the Federation Council.

In January 2013, a delegation of the Federation Council took part in the work of the 21st session of the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) in Vladivostok. Russia chaired that session whose participants focused on legislative support for decisions charted by APEC economic leaders during their meeting in autumn of 2012 that was also chaired by Russia.

The work of the Federation Council is in many ways a testament to the historical continuity of the most democratic traditions of exercising legislative power in Russia.

The Federation Council, which aims to promote the integration and consolidation of Russian regions, balances federal and regional interests in decision-making in order to achieve strategic long-term national development goals.

Read more