The Russian parliament in its current form, the Federal Assembly, started its work 25 years ago, on January 11, 1994
According to the Russian Constitution, the Federal Assembly is the representative and legislative body of the country. It consists of two chambers - the Federation Council, the upper house, and the State Duma, the lower house.
The Federal Assembly's bicameral structure has deep roots in national history and worldwide parliamentary traditions. Currently almost 80 countries, both federative and unitary, have two-chamber parliaments.
The princedoms in the Russian lands had their own dumas, which acted as permanents councils under the princes and included their closest supporters. The Boyar Duma became the successor of these councils in the age of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It existed up until the end of the 17th century and was later transformed into the Senate, which, as envisaged by Emperor Peter the Great, was to become the highest decision-making body during the absence of an emperor.
The meetings of the boyars, priests and merchants became the first governmental institutions, in which the representative principle played a decisive role. They were later referred to as the Assembly of the Land, which existed in the middle of the 16th-17th centuries.
The first attempt to create a two-chamber parliament in Russia was made in the beginning of the 19th century. Acting on the instructions of Russian Emperor Alexander I, an outstanding statesman Mikhail Speransky created the outlines of a legislative representative body, which was set to consist of two chambers, the State Duma and the State Council, headed by the Emperor.
The State Council was formed in 1810. It became the highest legislative institution of the Russian Empire. All laws and legislative acts had to be discussed in the State Council before the Emperor approved them. However, the State Duma was not created at that time.
The law on the establishment of the State Duma in the Russian Empire was signed in 1905 by Emperor Nicholas II. By the subsequent manifesto of 1906, the emperor established that after the convening of the State Council and the State Duma, no law may be enacted without their prior approval. Thus, the first Russian two-chamber parliament was created.
In 1924, the legislative and representative functions de jure were performed by the Congress of Soviets in the Soviet Union. The congress formed two houses - the Soviet (Council) of the Union and the Soviet (Council) of Nationalities.
The Supreme Soviet of the USSR was established by the Soviet Constitution in 1936, and consisted of the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. This system existed until the USSR collapsed in 1991.
The post of the president of the republic, who became the highest official and head of the executive power, was established at the last stage of the existence of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). The council system was subsequently abolished by a decree of the RSFSR president.
The Federation Council includes two representatives from each entity of Russia with one representing the legislative authority and the other the executive authority. It also includes the presidential envoys to the Russian federal subjects, but the number of them in the upper chamber should not exceed 10 percent of overall members of the Council.
The State Duma consists of 450 members, the deputies, and is elected for a five-year term. One person may not simultaneously be a deputy of the State Duma and a senator of the Federation Council. A deputy of the State Duma may not be a deputy of other representative bodies of state authority and local government. The members of the Federation Council and deputies of the State Duma shall enjoy immunity during their entire term of office.
The lower house and the Federation Council sit separately, but can meet together to listen to an address of the president and the Russian Constitutional Court, speeches of the heads of foreign states.
The Federation Council is considered the upper house, and the State Duma is the lower house of the Federal Assembly. The concept of upper and lower houses is linked to the legislative process. Bills are first considered by the State Duma, and then, if approved, are up for consideration by the Federation Council.
Powers of the State Duma include: giving consent to the Russian president on the appointment of the prime minister; decision-making on the credibility of the Russian Government; hearing annual reports of the Government on the results of its activities, including on issues raised by the State Duma; appointment and dismissal of the governor of the Central Bank, the Chair of the Accounts Chamber and half of its auditors, and the High-Commissioner for Human Rights; declaration of amnesty; bringing charges against the President for his/her removal from office.
Powers of the Federation Council include: approval of changes of borders between regions of Russia; approval of the decree of the president on the introduction of martial law and a state of emergency; decision-making on the use of the Russian Armed Forces abroad; appointment of presidential elections and dismissal of the president from his/her office; appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court; appointment and dismissal of the Prosecutor General and his/her deputies, the Deputy Chair of the Accounts Chamber and half of its auditors.
The right of legislative initiative belongs to the Russian president, the Council of Federation, members of the Council of Federation, deputies of the State Duma, the Russia Government, and legislative (representative) bodies of constituent entities of Russia. The right of legislative initiative also belongs to the Constitutional Court of Russia, the Russian Supreme Court and the Supreme Arbitration Court on the issues within their competence.
Bills are first submitted to the State Duma. The federal bills are adopted in the State Duma by a majority of votes of the total number of its deputies. The bills adopted by the State Duma shall be submitted within five days to the Federation Council for consideration.
Bills adopted by the State Duma on the following issues are subject to mandatory review by the Federation Council: the federal budget; federal taxes and fees; financial, Currency, credit and customs regulation, monetary expansion; ratification and denunciation of international treaties of the Russia; the status and protection of the Russian state border; declaration of war and peace.
The federal law is considered passed if more than half of the total number of members of the Federation Council voted for it or if the Federation Council has not considered it within 14 days. In the case of rejection of the bill, the Federation Council may suggest to form a conciliation commission to overcome the arisen differences. After a review by the commission, the bill is subject to reconsideration by the State Duma.
In case the State Duma disagrees with the decision of the Federation Council, a federal law is considered to be adopted if at least two-thirds of the total number of its deputies voted for it at the second vote.
The adopted federal law is sent to the president within five days, and shall be signed by the president within 14 days.
If the president rejects the law, the State Duma and the Federation Council have to consider the document again. If the law is readopted by both the Federation Council and the Duma by a majority vote, at least two-thirds of the votes of the total number of members of both chambers, it must be signed by the president within seven days.
A federal constitutional law is considered adopted if it is approved by a majority of not less than three-quarters of the votes of the total number of senators and at least two-thirds of the votes of the total number of deputies. The adopted federal constitutional law has to be signed by the president and published within 14 days.
In the implementation process, the chambers of the Federal Assembly of Russian interact with the president, the Russian Government, the federal courts, the Russian Prosecutor General and with the state bodies of Russia's entities.
Vyacheslav Volodin currently serves as the chairman of the State Duma of the 7th convocation, while Valentina Matviyenko chairs the Federation Council.