The Government and Policy of the Russian Federation

Ø 1) Read the text and translate it into Russian.

According to the Constitution, which was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993 following the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Russia is a federation and formally a semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the Head of state and the Prime Minister is the Head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy.

The federal government is composed of three branches:

Legislative:The national legislature is the Federal Assembly, which consists of two chambers: the 450-member State Duma and the 176-member Federation Council. The bicameral Federal Assembly adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove the President. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which serves as the country’s supreme legal document and as a social contract for the people of the Russian Federation.

Executive:Executive power is exercised by the government. The President is the commander-in-chief of the military. He can veto legislative bills before they become law, and he appoints the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies. The President is elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term but constitutionally barred for a third consecutive term). Ministries of the government are composed of the Premier and his Deputies, Ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma).

Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Arbitration and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional. According to the Constitution, constitutional justice in the court is based on the equality of all citizens, judges are independent and subject only to the law, trials are to be open and the accused is guaranteed a defense. Since 1996, Russia has instituted a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia, although capital punishment has not been abolished by law.

Leading political parties in Russia include United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Fair Russia.

 

Ø 2) The text contains a number of words to describe the structure of the Russian Federation. How many can you find?

Ø 3) Look at the phrases taken from the text. What do they mean?

a)according to the Constitution;

b)national referendum;

c)a semi-presidential republic;

d)a representative democracy;

e)the 450-member State Duma;

f)the 176-member Federation Council;

g)the bicameral Federal Assembly;

h)a system of checks and balances;

i)is elected by popular vote;

j)judges are independent and subject only to the law;

k)leading political parties.

 

FROM The Constitution of the Russian Federation

Ø 1) Read and say what new facts you have learnt from the text.

CHAPTER 7. JUDICIAL POWER

Article 118

1. Justice in the Russian Federation shall be administered by courts alone.

2. The judicial power shall be exercised by means of constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal proceedings.

3. The judicial system of the Russian Federation shall be instituted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal constitutional law. The creation of extraordinary courts shall not be allowed.

Article 119

1. Judges may be citizens of the Russian Federation over 25 years of age with a higher education in law and a law service record of not less than five years. The federal law may introduce additional requirements for judges of the courts of the Russian Federation.

Article 120

1. Judges shall be independent and submit only to the Constitution and the federal law.

2. If after considering a case, the court of law decides that an act of a state or other body contradicts the law, it shall pass an appropriate decision according to the law.

Article 121

1. Judges shall be irremovable.

2. The powers of a judge be ceased or suspended only on the grounds and according to the rules fixed by the federal law.

Article 122

1. Judges shall possess immunity.

2. A judge may not face criminal responsibility otherwise than according to the rules fixed by the federal law.

Article 123

1. Examination of cases in all courts shall be open. Examinations in camera shall be allowed only in cases envisaged by the federal law.

2. Trial by default in criminal courts shall not be allowed except in cases fixed by the federal law.

3. Judicial proceedings shall be held on the basis of controversy and equality of the parties.

4. In cases fixed by the federal law justice shall be administered by a court of jury.

Article 124

1. The courts shall be financed only from the federal budget and the possibility of the complete and independent administration of justice shall be ensured in keeping with the requirements of federal law.

Article 125

1. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation consists of 19 judges.

2. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation upon requests of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, one fifth of the members of the Council of the Federation or of the deputies of the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation, the bodies of legislative and executive power of the subjects of the Russian Federation shall consider cases on the correspondence to the Constitution of the Russian Federation of:

· the federal laws, normative acts of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation;

· the constitutions of republics, charters, and also the laws and other normative acts of the subjects of the Russian Federation adopted on the issues under the jurisdiction of the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation or under the joint jurisdiction of the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;

· the treaties concluded between the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation, the treaties concluded between the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;

· international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation which have not come into force.

3. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation shall resolve disputes on jurisdiction matters:

· between the federal bodies of state authority;

· between the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;

· between the higher bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation.

4. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon complaints about violations of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens and upon court requests shall check, according to the rules fixed by the federal law, the constitutionality of a law applied or subject to be applied in a concrete case.

5. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon the requests of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, the bodies of the legislative power of the subjects of the Russian Federation, shall give its interpretation of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

6. Acts or their certain provisions recognized as unconstitutional shall become invalid; international treaties and agreements not corresponding to the Constitution of the Russian Federation shall not be liable for enforcement and application.

7. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon the request of the Council of the Federation, shall provide a conclusion on the observance of the fixed procedure for advancing charges of treason or of another grave crime against the President of the Russian Federation.

Article 126

1.The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation shall be the supreme judicial body for civil, criminal, administrative and other cases under the jurisdiction of common courts, shall carry out judicial supervision over their activities according to federal law-envisaged procedural forms and provide explanations on the issues of court proceedings.

Article 127

1. The Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be the supreme judicial body for settling economic disputes and other cases examined by courts of arbitration shall carry out judicial supervision over their activities according to federal law-envisaged procedural forms and provide explanations on the issues of court proceedings.

Article 128

1. The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be appointed by the Council of the Federation upon the proposals by the President of the Russian Federation.

2. Judges of other federal courts shall be appointed by the President of the Russian Federation according to the rules fixed by the federal law.

3. The powers, the rules for forming and functioning of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be fixed by the federal constitutional law.

Article 129

1. The Procurator’s Office of the Russian Federation shall form single centralized structure in which procurators are subordinate to superior procurators and the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation.

2. The Procurator-General of the Russian Federation shall be appointed and dismissed by the Council of the Federation upon the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.

3. The procurators of the subjects of the Russian Federation shall be appointed by the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation by agreement with the subjects.

4. Other procurators shall be appointed by the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation.

5. The powers, organization and the rules of the functioning of the Procurator’s Office of the Russian Federation shall be determined by the federal law.

Ø 2) What adjectives are used to describe a judge?

Ø 3) What professions in the sphere of law are given in the text?

Ø 4) Write a summary of the text.

7.3 The Reform of Local Government in Russia

Ø 1) Read the heading and the words from the text and guess what reforms this text is about:distinction, state, self-government, national. Regional, cities, districts, authority, inconsistency, responsibilities, in favor of, sufficient funding.

Ø 2) Skim the text and name the “signal words” that help the author to introduce a new idea, to develop the idea, to provide examples, to explain the idea, to make a conclusion.

(1)Article 12 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation makes a distinction between “state power” and “local self-government.” According to the Constitution, the institutions of the national government and the regional governments (oblasts, republics, etc.) comprise the organs of state power, while the institutions of cities and districts (“raions,” roughly equivalent to counties in the USA) are not part of the state, but are organs of local self-government. Thus the Constitution accepted the distinction between state authority and local self-government. The greatest problem was though the inconsistency between the stated responsibilities of local self-government and its financial capabilities.

(2)The new law on local self-government was adopted by the Parliament in 2003. The adoption of this law seemed to mark a shift in favor of the governors. The law was supposed to assure municipal governments sufficient funding to enable them to satisfy the obligations that have been imposed on them.

(3)Nevertheless, some argued that the full implementation of this law would decrease the fiscal independence of local government and would also directly subordinate local governments to regional and federal bodies. Under the reform coming from the new law, income from local taxes would decrease as a share of total government revenue. Thus the mayors of cities still must rely on transfers of funds from the budgets of the federal and regional governments in order to try to perform the functions that are expected of them.

(4)Another issue arose that the implementation of that legislation would entail an enormous growth in the number of local governments in the country. Under the new law the number of “municipal formations” in Russia would increase from 11,560 to 31,298. Such a tremendous increase in the number of local governments would ensure sharp growth in the number of municipal officials and a substantial expansion of the need for financial resources to support the staff, facilities, and equipment of the new local governments.

(5)The proponents of the reform hope that the actual increase in costs resulting from growth in the ranks of municipal governments will not be overwhelming if existing facilities are used in many cases and most elected officials in the smaller settlements are part-time public servants. In some locales, however, expenses are said to have risen significantly as a result of the proliferation of local government entities.

(6)Whatever disadvantages of a new reform are, it’s obvious that it’s a step forward in the whole process of the reform of local government in Russia. While in the past the mayors had complained of a lack of attention from the central government, now there is confidence that the voice of the localities is finally heard.

Ø 3) Name the paragraphs which give answers to the questions below:

a)What document accepted the distinction between state authority and local self-government?

b)What consequences of the full implementation of the law could be foreseen?

c)What major advantages of e new reform are?