Constitution of Russia

The current Constitution of the Russian Federation (Russian: Конституция Российской Федерации, Konstitutsiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii; pronounced [kənsʲtʲɪˈtutsɨjə rɐˈsʲijskəj fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨɪ]) was adopted by national referendum on December 12, 1993. Russia's constitution came into force on December 25, 1993, at the moment of its official publication, and abolished the Soviet system of government. The current Constitution is the second most long-lived in the history of Russia, behind the Constitution of 1936.

Constitution of the
Russian Federation
Presidential copy of the Constitution
Original titleКонституция
Российской Федерации
JurisdictionRussian Federation
RatifiedDecember 12, 1993
Date effectiveDecember 25, 1993
SystemFederal semi-presidential
constitutional republic
Head of statePresident
(Federal Assembly: Federation Council, State Duma)
ExecutivePrime Minister led Government
JudiciaryJudiciary (Constitutional Court, Supreme Court)
Electoral collegeNo
First legislatureDecember 12, 1993
First executiveAugust 9, 1996
Amendments4 (plus 11 alternations on Federal subjects)
Last amendedJuly 22, 2014
LocationKremlin, Moscow
Commissioned byConstitutional Assembly
SignatoriesConstitutional referendum by the citizens of Russia
SupersedesConstitution of the RSFSR
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Russian Federation
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The 1993 Constitutional Conference was attended by over 800 participants. Sergei Alexeyev, Sergey Shakhray, and sometimes Anatoly Sobchak are considered as co-authors of the constitution. The text of the constitution was inspired by Mikhail Speransky's constitutional project and current French constitution.[1]

US Agency for International Development, also known as USAID (banned in Russia since 2012) drafted main concepts of the Constitution. Misleading wordings of certain sentences introduced concepts that very few countries have, including priority of international laws over domestic laws (15.4), right of overseas ownership of natural resources (9.2), ban for the government to be guided by a national ideology (13.2) and other concepts that deminish national sovereignty.[2]

A constitutional referendum was held in Russia on 12 December 1993. Of all registered voters, 58,187,755 people (or 54.8%) participated in the referendum. Of those, 32,937,630 (54.5%) voted for adoption of the Constitution.[3] It replaced the previous Soviet-era Constitution of April 12, 1978, of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (which had already been amended in April 1992 to reflect the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the sovereignty of the Russian Federation), following the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis.


Constitution of Russia after USSR


The constitution is divided into two sections.

Section One

  1. Fundamentals of the Constitutional System
  2. Rights and Liberties of Man and Citizen
  3. Federative system
  4. President of the Russian Federation
  5. Federal Assembly
  6. Government of the Russian Federation
  7. Judiciary
  8. Local Self-Government
  9. Constitutional Amendments and Revisions

Section Two

  1. Concluding and Transitional Provisions


Especially on human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Constitution provides for human rights and freedom of citizen according to the universally recognised principles and norm of international law as well as the Constitution[4] and affirms that the listing in the Constitution of the Russian Federation of the fundamental rights and freedom shall not be interpreted as a rejection and derogation of other universally recognised human rights and freedom.[5]


The Constitution of the Russian Federation specifies that the President is the Russian head of state, setting domestic and foreign policy and representing Russian both within the country and internationally [Article 80][6]. While the original constitution stipulated a four-year term and a maximum of two terms in succession, the current constitution decrees a six-year term. The four-year term was in effect while Vladimir Putin served his first and second terms; with the two-term limit, he was barred from the presidency in 2008. Instead, he served as Prime Minister while Dmitry Medvedev served as president for four years. Putin was re-elected to his third term in 2012; with the six-year term, he was elected to his fourth term in 2018. Article 81 specifies the method of election, including a secret ballot; Articles 82 - 93 detail powers, responsibilities, and limitations of the presidency. The constitution provides for a 'strong presidency'; not only is the president the "Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation"[7], the president also has the power to dissolve the State Duma.[8]

Executive branch

Legislative branch

The legislature is represented by the Federal Assembly of Russia, which consists of two chambers: the State Duma – the lower house, and the Federation Council – the upper house. The two chambers possess different powers and responsibilities, while the State Duma is of more significance, as the State Duma carries the main responsibility for passing federal laws. Although bills may originate in either legislative chamber (or submitted by the President, the government, local legislatures, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, or the High Arbitration Court), they must be first considered by the State Duma and be adopted by a majority vote before it could be turned over to the Federation Council, which has 14 days to take a vote on it. If rejected, the bill will be returned to the State Duma, which then can only pass it with a two-thirds vote again in the same form. If a bill is adopted by the Federation Council, it must be signed by the President to become law. The President has a final veto, but the State Duma and Federation Council also have the overriding power by passing a two-thirds vote.


While the Russian Federation Constitution enumerates a strong and independent judicial branch, the reality is a question of debate. The constitution provides for judicial immunity, lifetime appointments/"irremovable" justices, and the supremacy of the courts to administer justice, and affirms that judges need only submit to the constitution and the federal law[9]. Additionally, Article 123 provides for open and fair trials, as well as equal application of the law[10]. Three courts are delineated: Constitution Court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Higher Arbitration Court, each "Appointed by the Council of the Federation upon the proposals by the President"[9]. The Constitution requires 19 judges for the Constitution Court[9], but does not specify the number of justices for the other courts. As of 2002, the Supreme Court has 115 members[11]; due to the expansion of duties in 2014, the number of seats was increased to 170[12]. In September of 2014, the Institute of Modern Russia reported that the Russian Federation's Supreme Arbitration Court had been dissolved, and judicial matters previously under its authority had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court[12].

Local government

See also



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