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Why Does Russia Have a Complex and Diverse Political System?

Russia is renowned for having a complicated and diverse political structure. Russia’s political landscape has changed significantly throughout the ages, going from the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union and, most recently, the Russian Federation.

Historical Perspective

The historical foundations of Russia’s current political structure must be examined. Autocracy and power concentration have long been features of Russian history. During the conclusion of the 17th century and the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Romanov dynasty ruled the Russian Empire. The Russian Revolution left behind a chaotic Soviet Union, which was ruled by the Communist Party until its disintegration in 1991. Semi-presidential governance was used by the Russian Federation, which was founded following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Since taking office as president in 1999, Vladimir Putin has been instrumental in forming the current political landscape in Russia. Under his leadership, the state has become stronger and more centralized, raising concerns about the situation of political freedom and democracy in Russia.

The Russian political system has a complex historical past that includes dynastic control, revolutions, ideological changes, and substantial political development. It depicts the intricate and varied history of a country that has seen authoritarianism and openness, democracy and autocracy—all of which continue to influence Russia’s political climate to this day.

Also Read: Autocracy vs Dictatorship

Contemporary Political System

Russia’s current political structure may be characterized as a federal, semi-presidential republic. There are several branches and tiers of government, each with distinct functions and duties. Important elements of the political structure of Russia include:

1) Presidency

The president is crucial to the functioning of the Russian political system as the highest executive power in the country and has a big influence on foreign policy, domestic policy, and governance. Russia’s president is a key institution in the political system, as he is the head of state and has significant authority.

Enforcing and carrying out laws is one of the main responsibilities of the Russian presidency. The president is in charge of putting laws into effect, granting executive orders, and making sure state institutions run smoothly. For the government to run smoothly and to uphold peace and order, this executive authority is essential.

The president is also very important in determining domestic policy. They can impact the legislative agenda and have the authority to submit bill proposals to the State Duma, the Federal Assembly’s lower body. The president also has the power to remove the government from office if need be and select important officials, such as the prime minister.

The president is vested with the power to negotiate and approve international accords and treaties in the domain of foreign policy. Russia’s connections with other countries, especially its friends and foes, are significantly impacted by the president’s foreign policy actions.

The president also has the position of commander-in-chief over the Russian armed forces, which gives them a major say in the military and security strategies of the nation. This covers choices on national security plans, defense spending, and military activities.

In Russia, the president also has great symbolic value. As a symbol of the country’s ideals and goals, the president is regarded as a uniting force. They are able to speak in front of the public on significant issues and show leadership in emergency situations.

2) Judicial System

One of the most important aspects of the Russian government is the function of the judiciary in the political system. The Russian judiciary is intended to function as an impartial and independent component of the government, tasked with maintaining the rule of law and guaranteeing justice.

The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and other lower courts make up the official hierarchical structure of the Russian judicial system. In interpreting the Russian Constitution and guaranteeing its observance, the Constitutional Court is essential. Lower courts handle routine legal affairs, whereas the Supreme Court handles civil, criminal, and administrative disputes.

Despite this statutory framework, the Russian court has been the target of several accusations of political meddling and coercion, especially in high-profile cases involving members of the political opposition or government opponents. Critics contend that the judiciary’s independence and impartiality are compromised by the executive branch’s influence.

The concentration of power in the presidency is one important feature of the Russian political system that affects the judiciary. Judges are appointed by the president to different courts, and this appointment procedure may give rise to concerns regarding judicial independence. Also, the legal system in Russia has come under fire for giving the government the power to enact laws that restrict civil freedoms and single out political opponents.

3) Federal Assembly

A key component of the Russian political system is the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, which is made up of the Federation Council, the upper house, and the State Duma, the lower house. Acting as the nation’s legislative body, it is in charge of drafting and passing laws, supervising the operations of the government, and defending the rights of the Russian people.

a) Legislative Power

The main body in charge of enacting federal laws is the Federal Assembly. The main legislative assembly, the State Duma, is made up of 450 MPs chosen via proportional representation. The proposed laws that these deputies create, discuss, and vote on address a variety of issues, including foreign policy, social programs, and the economy.

b) Supervision of the Executive Office

The executive branch, especially the administration headed by the President, is under the supervision of the Federal Assembly. It has the authority to investigate, interrogate, and watch over government employees. This watchdog role contributes to government accountability and openness.

c) Verification of Important Meetings

The confirmation of important appointments made by the President is mostly dependent on the Federation Council, which is the upper branch of the Federal Assembly. This entails verifying the judges, regional governors, and prime minister in order to maintain a system of checks and balances inside the democratic system.

d) Concentrated Representation

Russia’s federal subjects, or regions, are represented by the Federation Council. One delegate from the regional legislature and one from the regional executive authority are sent by each federal subject to the Federation Council. This guarantees that local concerns are taken into account during the legislative process.

e) The Constitution Amendment

The Russian Constitution may be amended by the Federal Assembly if certain requirements are met. Using this authority, the legislature may shape the foundational laws of the entire country.

f) Budget Acceptance

One important player in the budget process is the State Duma. The federal budget, which includes funding for numerous government services and initiatives, is reviewed, amended, and approved by it.

g) International Treaties

The Federal Assembly ratifies treaties and international accords in order to guarantee that Russia abides by its foreign commitments.

The efficacy of the Federal Assembly, which in theory acts as a crucial check and balance in the Russian political system, can be impacted by a number of variables, such as the degree of political rivalry and the presidency’s prominent position.

Read more: What are the Challenges of Diplomacy?

4) Political Parties

In the Russian political system, political parties have a big but complicated role. While Russia has several political parties, United Russia is the most powerful one. Despite this, the country still has a multi-party system.

a) Representatives and Elections

Russia’s political parties run candidates in a number of elections, including regional, parliamentary, and presidential contests. They are necessary for a representative democracy to function and provide a channel for voters to voice their political choices.

b) Legislative Power

Political parties are well represented in the Federal Assembly’s lower chamber, the State Duma. Parties that clear the electoral threshold can participate in discussions, draft legislation, and have an impact on the policymaking process. The Duma’s seats are distributed according to a proportional representation system.

c) Opposition Role

Opposition voices are frequently provided by political parties like the Liberal Democratic Party and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. They are essential in keeping the government responsible, challenging its policies, and offering different points of view.

d) Election Monitoring

Particularly opposition parties, which may raise questions about anomalies or electoral fraud, have a responsibility to play in monitoring the integrity of elections. Ensuring free and fair elections requires election monitoring.

e) Activism and Civil Society

Certain parties have links to activism and civil society movements. Even when they are not in government, they can organize their followers to participate in rallies, marches, and campaigning on a variety of subjects.

f) Policy Development

Political parties frequently create viewpoints and policy agendas on a range of topics. Particularly when parties are in power or form a coalition, these platforms have the potential to impact government decisions and mold the national political discourse.

Read More: Why Choose Portuguese Citizenship?

Why Does the Political System in Russia Receive Immense Criticism?

Russia has been mostly criticized and has come under severe scrutiny for its political structure and methods of governance. 

1. Absence of Political Diversity

The seeming absence of real competition and political plurality is one of the main critiques leveled about Russia’s political system. The United Russia Party’s dominance, which sees it routinely win elections at all levels of government, has raised questions about the political environment’s fairness and competition. Obstacles that opposition parties frequently encounter, such as registration issues and uneven media access, make it difficult for them to fight fairly.

2. Irregularities In the Election

Many Russian elections have been tainted by claims of electoral irregularities, including ballot filling, voting fraud, and manipulation. Concerns regarding the electoral process’s integrity have been voiced by independent observers from both local and foreign sources, which threatens the validity of election results and erodes public confidence in the system.

3. Limitations On Civil Rights

Critics contend that major limitations on civil freedoms, such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression, are imposed by Russia’s political system. Political opponents, activists, and journalists have all experienced intimidation, threats of violence, and even legal action. These limitations hinder the freedom of people and groups to peacefully demonstrate and voice divergent opinions.

Read more: How Is Democracy Distinguished from Authoritarianism?

4. Power Concentration

Concerns have been raised about the consolidation of political power in the presidency, especially in light of Vladimir Putin’s prolonged tenure. Opponents contend that in order to maintain a system of checks and balances, a more balanced division of powers is required and that the presidency possesses an overwhelming amount of power.

5. Media Management

There has been much criticism of the government’s influence on the traditional and digital media landscapes. The media landscape is dominated by state-run organizations, and independent voices frequently experience restriction and pressure to conform to official narratives. This information management reduces the range of opinions that the general public may access.

6. Legality and Independence of the Judiciary

There have been concerns expressed regarding judicial independence and the rule of law. Many people believe that the government has influence over the court, especially when it comes to matters involving political opponents. Opponents contend that in order to guarantee the protection of due process rights and individual liberties, a more unbiased and open legal system is necessary.

7. Corrupt Practices

In Russia, there are constant reports of rampant bribery among public officials and organizations, making corruption a perennial concern. In addition to undermining public confidence, corruption prevents foreign investment and economic growth.

8. Foreign Policy Disagreements

Tensions with other nations have been brought on by Russia’s political system and its foreign policy. Western nations have criticized and sanctioned Russia due to issues including the annexation of Crimea, meddling in neighboring countries, and claims of hacking. These issues have also damaged diplomatic ties.

9. Democratic Retreat

Concerns about Russia’s democratic reversal have been voiced by several international observers and groups. They contend that democratic values, including free and fair elections, observance of human rights, and the rule of law, have been abandoned by the nation.


Russia’s political structure, which combines aspects of democracy and autocracy, is a byproduct of its complicated history. The Russian Federation’s fundamental institutions are the federal legislature, the presidency, the government, and the court. On the contrary, issues with media control, election procedures, power concentration, and human rights issues have spurred discussions and complaints on a national and worldwide scale.

Russia constantly has to strike a balance between the values of democracy and strong, centralized power while addressing the issues and critiques of its political system as it continues to navigate its political environment.


What Kind of Governmental Structure Does Russia Possess?

Russia is a semi-presidential republic. It is led by a Prime Minister who functions as the head of government and a President who serves as the head of state. The political structure of the nation blends features of the legislative and presidential systems.

How Do Political Figures in Russia Become Elected?

The President is chosen by the people for a six-year term in office. The lower chamber of the Federal Assembly, the State Duma, is chosen by a mixed electoral system using proportional representation, while the upper body, the Federation Council, is made up of delegates chosen by local authorities.

What Function Do Political Parties Serve in the Political Structure of Russia?

Russia’s political system heavily relies on political parties. They contest for seats in the State Duma, take part in elections, and have an impact on policy.

How Has Criticism of Russia’s Presidential Power Consolidation Occurred?

It has been suggested that the system of checks and balances may be compromised by the concentration of political power in the presidency, particularly given Vladimir Putin’s prolonged tenure in office.

What Are the Principal Obstacles Confronting the Political System of Russia?

A lack of political plurality, claims of anomalies in elections, limitations on civil freedoms, media control, corruption, and worries about the rule of law and judicial independence are just a few of the issues and accusations leveled against Russia’s political system.

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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