The Russian Federation is governed under the constitution of 1993, as amended. The head of state is a popularly elected president who is eligible to serve two consecutive terms (and additional nonconsecutive terms); the length of the term was extended from four years to six beginning in 2012. The president appoints the prime minister and can dissolve the legislature if it three times refuses to approve his choice for that post. The legislature, or Federal Assembly, is divided into an upper Federation Council and a lower State Duma. The Federation Council has 178 members, consisting of two representatives from the governments of each republic, territory, region, and area. The State Duma has 450 members. The seats are distributed proportionally among those parties whose national vote is at least 7%. All legislators serve four-year terms. (Members of the State Duma will serve five-year terms beginning with the 2011 elections.) The Public Chamber, which was established in 2005, is empowered to investigate elected and appointed government officials and advise on national legislation. Its 126 members are appointed by the president or chosen by the members of the chamber from among prominent nongovernmental individuals. Administratively, the country is divided into 46 Russian regions, 21 ethnically non-Russian republics, 4 autonomous national areas, 9 largely Russian territories, the federal cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and one autonomous region.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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