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Russia celebrates Day of Russian Parliamentarism

April 27, 2014, 13:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, April 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia celebrates Day of Russian Parliamentarism on Sunday, April 27, 2014. The memorable date was instituted by the June 27 2012 federal law introducing amendments in Article 1.1 of the federal law on days of military glory and memorable dates in Russia. The first Russian State Duma started working on this day in 1906.

Last Russian Emperor Nicholas II issued a manifesto on establishing the State Duma as a legislative and consultative body on August 6, 1905. However, on October 17, 1905 the all-Russia political strike made the emperor sign a manifesto on improvement of the state order which vested the Duma with powers of a lawmaking body.

A festive opening ceremony of the first Duma was held on April 27, 1906. The total number of its members ranged between 480 and 524 in different years. The country’s parliament was empowered to endorse the laws submitted by the government and approve the state budget. In the parliament prior to the revolutionary years party factions were formed. The Duma has introduced the procedure for considering legislative initiatives, openness of its meetings, deputy requests and settlement of disagreements by conciliatory committees. The law granted the right for freedom of speech at the parliamentary rostrum to lawmakers that was particularly important in Russia in those years.

Tsarist Russia has had the four Dumas until the overthrow of monarchy. From the very start of its activity the parliament engaged in confrontation with authorities. As a result from four convocations only the third Duma has worked for the whole legitimate five-year term. The first Duma has worked only for 72 days from April 27 to July 8, 1906 being disbanded by Nicholas II. The same fate befell the second State Duma that has worked from February 20 to June 3, 1907. This Duma was disbanded over the accusation against the Social Democratic faction of a military coup. The third Duma has worked from November 1, 1907 to June 9, 1912. The last Duma in the history of Imperial Russia has operated from November 15, 1912 until October 6 (19), 1917.

In 1917 the February Revolution occurred in the country that resulted in the toppling of the monarchy and a dual power in the country between the Provisional Government and the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies. The Provisional Government attempted to form a new parliament and elections in the first all-Russia Constituent Assembly were held in November 1917. But the Bolsheviks have disbanded the All-Russia Constituent Assembly already on January 6, 1918.

After the October Revolution in 1917 the All-Russia Central Executive Committee (VTsIK) became the supreme legislative body of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). After establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922 the Central Executive Committee with one house was formed and a two-house supreme state body was founded in 1924 to work between the Congresses of Soviets of the Soviet Union. A two-house Supreme Council has replaced the All-Russia Central Executive Committee in 1936.

In the early 90s after the Soviet Union breakup introduction of the post of RSFSR president and re-division of functions between different branches of power became an important change in the state system. The Federal Assembly became a representative and legislative body of Russia according to the Constitution enacted in 1993.

The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation consists of two houses - the Federation Council upper house and the State Duma lower house. The State Duma comprising 450 lawmakers is formed in national direct elections and represents the country’s population in general, the Federation Council consisting of 170 members acts as a representative body of constituent entities of the federal state [by one representative from representative and executive authorities in each Russian federal constituent entity]. Lawmakers of the State Duma and the Federation Council work on a professional permanent basis. The State Duma is elected for a five-year term fixed in the country’s Constitution, the Federation Council does not have a limited term of powers.

Lawmaking is the main function of the State Duma, particularly endorsement of federal and constitutional laws, resolutions within its jurisdiction. The Federation Council has the main goal to perform legislative powers, including consideration of laws approved by the State Duma, ratification and denouncement of international treaties, the issues of status and protection of the state border, the matters of war and peace.

The State Duma declares an amnesty, empowers the president to appoint the prime minister, settles the issue of trust to the government, the issue of bringing accusations against the president for his impeachment and hears a governmental report. The Federation Council has the powers to announce presidential elections and to relieve the president from the post. The Federation Council appoints the judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the general prosecutor. The State Duma appoints and relieves from the post the Central Bank chairman and the human rights commissioner. Parliamentary houses divide powers to appoint the leadership and auditors of the Chamber of Accounts and members of the Central Election Commission. Meetings of both parliamentary chambers are held separately.

First elections in the State Duma in modern Russian history were held on December 12, 1993. Lawmakers of the second State Duma were elected on December 17, 1995, the third Duma - on December 19, 1999, the fourth one - on December 7, 2003, the fifth one - on December 2, 2007 and the sixth State Duma - on December 4, 2011. The first Duma was elected for two years, the term of next four lower houses has made four years and current sixth State Duma was elected for five years.

Elections in the lower house of parliament were held according to the mixed election system from single-seat constituencies and the federal district [federal lists of candidates] from 1993 to 2003. Fifth and sixth State Dumas were elected according to the proportional system on federal candidate lists nominated by political parties.

In 2016, elections in a seventh State Duma will be held according to the mixed election system that envisages that half of deputies [225 lawmakers] will be elected in single-mandate constituencies and another half of lawmakers - in the federal electoral district. The law to this effect was enacted on February 24, 2014.

At elections in the incumbent sixth State Duma four parties from seven ones registered in the country at that moment were elected in the parliament and formed their factions in the lower house. United Russia Party has gained 238 mandates, the Communist Party of Russia (CPRF) - 92 seats, A Just Russia Party - 64 seats and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) - 56 mandates.

From 2011 Valentina Matviyenko occupies the post of the Federation Council speaker, Sergey Naryshkin - the State Duma speaker.

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