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Russia: Government and Politics
Country Study > Chapter 7 > Government and Politics

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS


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.




Last Updated: July 1996


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Russia was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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