ABOUT THE COUNCIL OF FEDERATION

The Council of the Federation is the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly — the parliament of the Russian Federation.

According to the Article 95, part 2 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, two deputies from each subject (constituent entity) of the Russian Federation enter the Council of the Federation: one from representative and the other from executive body of state authority.

The procedure of formation of the Council of the Federation was defined by the Federal Law N192-FZ from December 5, 1995 «On the Procedure of Formation of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» (the Code of Laws of the Russian Federation, 1995, N50, Art. 4869) until August 8, 2000. The chamber consisted of 178 representatives of the subjects (constituent entities) of Federation which were heads of legislative (representative) and executive state authority bodies. All members of the Council of the Federation continued to exercise their powers as officials of local authorities while being members of the federal parliament.

On August 8, 2000 new Federal Law N113-FZ «On the Procedure of Formation of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation», adopted on August 5, 2000, came into force (the Code of Laws of the Russian Federation, 2000, N 32, Art.3336). Now the chamber consists of representatives elected by legislative (representative) state authority bodies of the subjects (constituent entities) of Federation or appointed by higher officials of the subjects (constituent entities) of Federation (heads of higher executive state authority bodies of the subjects of Federation). Term of representatives’ commissions is defined by term of commissions of the bodies having elected or appointed them, but the mandates could be withdrawn ahead of time by the above mentioned bodies in accordance with the same procedure, as applyed for election (appointment) of members of the Council of the Federation. A citizen of the Russian Federation over 30 years old enjoying the constitutional right to elect or be elected to state authority bodies could be elected (appointed) member of the Council of the Federation.

Candidates to the Council of the Federation from legislative (representative) state authority’s body of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation are proposed by the Chairman of that body or by Chairmen of both chambers in turn, if the legislative (representative) body consists of two chambers. Groups of constituents of not less than 1/3 of the chamber deputies’ total number could propose alternative candidates as well. The decision on election of a representative from legislative (representative) body is taken by secret ballot and confirmed by Resolution of the above mentioned body or by joint Resolution passed by both chambers of the two-chamber legislative (representative) body.

Decision of a higher official of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation (head of the higher executive state authority’s body of the subject of Federation) concerning appointment of a representative to the Council of the Federation from executive state authority’s body of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation is legalized by a decree (or resolution) of the higher official of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation (head of the higher executive state authority body of the subject of Federation). The decree (resolution) should be presented to the legislative (representative) body of state authority of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation within three days. The decree (resolution) will come into force, if two thirds of the total number of deputies of the legislative (representative) body of state authority of the subject (constituent entity) of Federation vote for the appointment of that particular representative to the Council of the Federation at the following or extraordinary session .

In accordance with the new Federal Law the election (appointment) of members of the Council of the Federation had been almost completed before January 1, 2002. The newly elected (appointed) members work on permanent basis only.

The Council of the Federation is a permanent acting body. Its sessions are convoced if necessary, but not less than two times a month. Sessions of the Council of the Federation are the main form of the chamber’s activities. The sessions are held separately from those held by the State Duma, excluding hearings of Presidential addresses, Addresses of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation or speeches delivered by leaders of foreign states.

Sessions of the Council of the Federation are held in Moscow from January 25 to July 15 and from September 16 to December 31 and are open to the public. The location of sessions could be changed if the Council of the Federation desires so. A closed session could be convoced as well.

The Council of the Federation elects its Chairman, First Deputy-Chairman and Deputy-Chairmen who conduct the sessions and are in charge of the chamber regulations. E. S. Stroev, former Chairman of the Council of the Federation, was elected Honour Chairman of the Council of the Federation, which is a life title. E. S. Stroev as well as V. F. Shumeiko, Chairman of the Council of the Federation of the first convocation, are granted personal seats in the session hall and cabinets inside the chamber’s building. They received special identification cards and breastplates. They both enter the Council of the Federation with deliberative functions and enjoy some other priveleges.

The Council of the Federation forms committees, ad hoc commissions all consisting of its members. The Council of the Federation has the right to form, dismiss and or re-organize every committee or commission.

Committees of the Council of the Federation are permanent bodies of the chamber. All members of the Council except for its Chairman, First Deputy-Chairman and Deputy-Chairmen enter the committees. Members of the Council of Federation could enter only one committee at a time, provided that it consists of no less than 7 members of the Council of the Federation. Committees’ and commissions’ composition is to be approved by the Chamber. The Council of the Federation has the following currently working committees:

  • Council of the Federation Committee on Constitutional Legislation, Legal and Judicial Affairs and Civil Society Development
  • Council of the Federation Committee on the Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Governance and Affairs of the North
  • Council of the Federation Committee on Defense and Security
  • Council of the Federation Committee for Foreign Affairs
  • Council of the Federation Budget and Financial Markets Committee
  • Council of the Federation Committee on Economic Policy
  • Council of the Federation Committee for Agrarian and Food Policy and Environmental Management
  • Council of the Federation Committee on Social Policy
  • Council of the Federation Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Information Policy
  • Council of the Federation Committee on the House Rules and Parliamentary Performance Management.

Ad hoc committees have equal rights and are equally responsible for implementing the constitutional powers of the chamber, which include: drawing of conclusions on Federal Laws, adopted by the State Duma and transferred to the Council of the Federation for further consideration; drawing of conclusions on Federal Constitutional Laws; working out and preliminary considering draft laws and other normative law statements; conducting parliamentary hearings; etc.

Ad hoc committees seize their activities within particular period of time or after having acomplished certain tasks.

Powers of the Council of the Federation are defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Procedure of considering of federal constitutional laws and federal laws by the Council of the Federation, accordingly approved of or adopted by the State Duma, is stipulated by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Regulations of the Council of the Federation.

Legislative work of the Council of the Federation is carried out in two main dimensions:

The Council of the Federation in cooperation with the State Duma participates in completing draft laws, considering laws and taking decisions regarding these laws; 
Implementing the right of legislative initiative the Council of the Federation independently drafts federal laws and federal constitutional laws. 
Federal laws on issues concerning federal budget; federal taxes and duties; financial, currency, credit and customs regulation; money emission; ratification and denonsiation of international treaties of the Russian Federation; status and defence of the state border of the Russian Federation; war and peace issues should be considered by the Council of the Federation after they had been adopted by the State Duma.

Federal law regards as adopted by the Council of the Federation, if more than half of members of the chamber voted for the law. For adoption of a federal constitutional law a majority of not less than 3 of votes is needed. A federal law that is not a subject to indispensable consideration is regarded as being adopted, if the Council of the Federation has not considered it within 14 days. When a federal law has been voted down by the Council of the Federation, the two chambers form the Conciliation Committee in order to overcome the uprising disarguement. The federal law is due to be reconsidered by the State Duma and the Council of the Federation afterwards.

The following issues are within the competence of the Council of the Federation:

approval of changes of borders between the subjects (constituent entities) of Federation; 
approval of Presidential Decrees on introduction of martial law or the state of emergency; 
taking decision on weather the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation should be used outside the territory of the Russian Federation; 
declaring of Presidential elections; 
impeachment of the President of the Russian Federation; 
appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation; 
appointment and dismissal of the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation; 
appointment and dismissal of the Deputy-Chairman and half of members of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. 
A number of federal laws entrust the Council of the Federation with the powers not mentioned in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The Council of the Federation as well as every single member of the Council enjoys the right of legislative initiative.

The Council of the Federation passes resolutions on issues within the chamber’s competence by majority of votes from total number of members of the Council of the Federation, if another procedure is not stipulated by the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

The Council of the Federation adopts its Regulations, precisely defining the structure and procedure of work of the Council of the Federation, the chamber’s participation in legislation, the procedure of consideration of issues within the competence of the Council of the Federation (current edition of the Regulations of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation is adopted by the Resolutions of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation N 33-CF from January 30, 2002 and N 173-CF from March 29, 2002).

Status of member of the Council of the Federation is defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, saying that members of the Council of the Federation have the right to inviolability for the term of their commissions. They could neither be detained, arrested and serched, except for catching in the act cases, nor could they undergo personal examination, except for cases provided by federal law in order to ensure other people’s security.

Status of member of the Council of the Federation is defined by the Federal Law «On Status of Members of the Council of the Federation and Status of Deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation», with subsequent changes, in the wording of the Fedral Law N 133-FZfrom July 5, 1999 (The Code of Laws of the Russian Federation, 1999, N 28, Art. 3466).