Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation
Председатель Правительства Российской Федерации
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Logo of the Russian Government
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Flag of Russia
Mikhail Mishustin (2020-07-09).jpg
Incumbent
Mikhail Mishustin

since 16 January 2020
Executive branch in Russian Politics
Office of the Prime Minister of Russia
Style Mr. Chairman
By name and patronymic
(currently Mikhail Vladimirovich)
His Excellency[1]
(diplomatic)
Type Head of Government
Abbreviation PMOR, PMORF
Member of Government
Security Council
Reports to President
State Duma
Residence White House
(working)
Seat Moscow
Nominator President of Russia
Appointer President of Russia,
with the approval of the State Duma
Term length No fixed term
Resigns after taking office of the elected President, but may be reappointed again
Constituting instrument Constitution of Russia
Inaugural holder Count Sergei Witte
Formation 6 November 1905
Deputy First Deputy Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Ministers
Salary $105,000 USD annually[2]
Website Official website

Template:Politics of Russia

The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation (Russian: Председатель Правительства Российской Федерации), also known as the Prime Minister (Russian: Премьер-министр), is the head of the Russian government, the chief executive of the Russian Cabinet and the second most powerful figure of the Russian Federation. The official residence of the prime minister is Gorki-9 in Odintsovsky District, Moscow Oblast, but his/her working residence is in Moscow (Russian White House). Under Article 24 of the Federal Constitutional Law 'On the Government of the Russian Federation', the prime minister "heads the Government of the Russian Federation".[3]

Due to the central role of the President of Russia in the political system, the activities of the executive branch (including the Prime Minister) are significantly influenced by the head of state (for example, it is the President who appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister and other members of the Government; the President may chair the meetings of the cabinet and give obligatory orders to the Prime Minister and other members of the Government; the President may also revoke any act of the Government). The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is never used by the Russian Constitution or laws.

Historical background[edit | edit source]

Imperial period[edit | edit source]

Early Russian Prime Ministers[edit | edit source]

Until 1905, the head of government was the Emperor. In the absence of the Emperor, the Ministers one by one, starting with the oldest in the rank, each acted as head of government for 4 sessions.

In 1810, the chairmanship was granted to the state Chancellor count Nikolay Rumyantsev, the former then Chairman of the State Council. Since 1812, as Chairman of the Committee has evolved into an independent position, which until 1865 necessarily coincide with the presidency of the Council of State.

Traditionally, the chairmanship of the Committee was last in the public service honorary position appointed by the dignitaries that have become too old to execution of the duties of the Minister. A number of Committee chairmen (especially duke Alexander Chernyshyov, count Alexey F. Orlov, count Dmitry Bludov) was characterized by contemporaries as "barely alive", "miserable". Count Modest Korf jokingly wrote about count Chernyshov: "Look, just live!" Duke Pavel Gagarin died in office at the age of 83 years.

1905–1917[edit | edit source]

Count Sergei Witte, the first Prime Minister of Russia

The modern post of Prime Minister appeared in 1905. A decree of Emperor Nicholas II on 19 October 1905 established the Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire, bringing together the Ministers in one Cabinet (previously each Minister had reported directly to the Emperor on the affairs of his department). The Chairman of the Council of Ministers officially became a fully-fledged head of government. Nicholas appointed Graf Sergei Witte as his first "Prime Minister".[4]

From 1905 the Prime Minister received extensive powers, with the opportunity to pursue his own policies and reforms. Pyotr Stolypin (in office: 1906-1911) gained a reputation as one of the strongest Prime Ministers - during his Premiership he made several major (though controversial) reforms.

Though the Russian Constitution of 1906 established the State Duma (a representative house of parliament), the Government was not responsible to it. Although Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin (at the beginning of his Premiership) each tried to form a coalition government of the largest political organizations, they did not succeed. The State Duma nevertheless tried to gain influence over the government. Conflict between the State Duma and the government became particularly evident during the first Premiership of Ivan Goremykin in 1906.[5]

The position of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire lasted 12 years; during this time 7 people took this post (one twice). The position lapsed after the February Revolution of March 1917, following the abdication of Nicholas II from the throne on 15 March [O.S. 2 March] 1917 and the formation that same day of the Provisional Government.

Provisional Government[edit | edit source]

Georgy Lvov, the 8th Prime Minister of Russia (1st Minister-Chairman of the Russian Provisional Government)

During the Russian Provisional Government, the Prime Minister de facto headed the Russian state and was officially called the “Minister-Chairman of the Russian Provisional Government". This position was held by only two people, Georgy Lvov and Alexander Kerensky.

The position lasted about six months, and after the October Revolution, was replaced by Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian SFSR.

Soviet period[edit | edit source]

During the reign of Vladimir Lenin, the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars was the de facto leader of the RSFSR (from 1922 - the USSR).

In 1946, the post of head of government was renamed Chairman of the Council of Ministers. People who held those positions are sometimes referred to as the prime ministers. They may have also been referred to as Premier of Ministers, or simply premier.

Post-Soviet period[edit | edit source]

Viktor Chernomyrdin, the 29th Prime Minister of Russia (1st Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation)

Currently, the formal title of the Prime Minister is "Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation".

In modern Russia, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President, with the consent of the State Duma. The Prime Minister is responsible to the President and regularly reports to him, however to the State Duma he reports only once a year.

After the election of Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia, the head of the government was Yeltsin personally. He headed the Russian SFSR Government (16 May 1992, the Government of the Russian Federation) for about six months. In fact, Yeltsin was the first Head of Government of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however he was not the Prime Minister. After Yeltsin, Yegor Gaidar became Acting Prime Minister, but the Russian Supreme Soviet refused to approve him as Prime Minister. On 14 December 1992, the Prime Minister appointed was Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The Russian political system is similar to the modern French system. For the appointment of the Prime Minister the President needs a majority in the state Duma. If the party President does not have the majority and fails to form a coalition, the President may need to appoint a loyalist to the position of Prime Minister. For example this occurred in 1998 when the state Duma (which had most of the opposition to the President of the party) twice refused to appoint Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Boris Yeltsin appointed Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who supported the left opposition.

In the mid-90s in Russia there was a term "Technical Prime Minister". This term refers to the Prime Minister, who is not an independent political figure, is only the nominal head of government, and in fact the activities of the government are headed by the President.[6]

Duties and competences[edit | edit source]

Prime Minister Vladimir Kokovtsov reading a government report in the State Duma. December 5, 1912

In general, the Prime Minister serves more of an administrative role, nominating members of the Cabinet and taking the lead in fully implementing domestic and foreign policy as formulated by the President. In accordance with the federal constitutional law "On the Government of the Russian Federation" the Prime Minister exercises the following duties:

  • determines the operating priorities of the Government and organizes its work in accordance with the Constitution, federal constitutional laws, federal laws and Presidential decrees, aside from running the day-to-day affairs of the government, in general.
  • submits to the President proposals on the structure and functions of the central institutions of the executive branch (e.g. ministries and federal agencies);[7]
  • nominates the Vice Prime Ministers, Federal Ministers and other officers and presents them to the President;
  • submits to the President proposals on punishment and rewards of the Government members;
  • represents the Government as an institution in foreign relations and inside the country;
  • heads the sessions of the Government and its Presidium where he has the decisive vote;
  • signs the acts of the Government;
  • report annually to the State Duma about the Government activities;
  • distributes duties among members of the Government;
  • systematically informs the President about the Government activities;

The Prime Minister is ex officio a member of:

Appointment[edit | edit source]

Medvedev at his confirmation hearing on 8 May 2018

Initially, the Prime Minister was appointed by the Emperor of Russia, without the consent of the candidate to the State Duma.

In Soviet times, Prime Minister of the Russian SFSR was appointed by the Supreme Council after each election.[8][9]

Currently Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Russia, subject to the consent of the State Duma (before 1993 the Supreme Soviet). Unlike most other "Prime Ministers", who are also elected members of the legislative body or parliament, the Chairman of the Government of Russia can be any Russian citizen, as long as they do not also hold citizenship of another country.

Under law, the President shall nominate a new Chairman of the Government within two weeks of the resignation of a previous government or inauguration ceremony of President. The State Duma is to discuss the matter within two weeks of the nomination and make a decision. The procedure of granting consent by the parliament is usually preceded by several days of comprehensive consultations and interviews of the candidate by the parliamentary factions. Should the State Duma decide to give the President its approval, the President may immediately sign the respective appointment decree. Should the State Duma refuse to give its approval, the President will have to nominate another (or the same) candidate within one week of the rejection of the previous candidate.[10]

Should the State Duma reject candidates nominated by the President for three times consecutively, the President shall dissolve it and call a new election, while the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President without participation of the Duma. The State Duma may not be dissolved on these grounds during the first year after parliamentary elections, the last six months of the incumbent President's term, as well as in time of emergency, or war and in the event that the State Duma has initiated the impeachment of the incumbent President.

Results of confirmations voting[edit | edit source]

Candidate Date Total deputies Yes No Abstaining No vote Result
Supreme Soviet confirmations
Yegor Gaidar December 9, 1992 1040 467 44.9% 486 26 61 Not approved
Viktor Chernomyrdin December 14, 1992 1040 721 69.3% 172 48 1 Approved
State Duma confirmations
Viktor Chernomyrdin August 10, 1996 443 314 70.9% 85 3 48 Approved[11]
Sergey Kirienko April 10, 1998 443 143 32.3% 186 5 116 Not approved[12]
April 17, 1998 443 115 25.9% 271 11 153 Not approved[13]
April 24, 1998 443 251 56.7% 25 39 135 Approved[14]
Viktor Chernomyrdin August 31, 1998 443 94 21.2% 253 0 98 Not approved
September 7, 1998 443 138 31.2% 273 1 32 Not approved
Yevgeny Primakov September 11, 1998 443 317 71.6% 63 15 49 Approved
Sergei Stepashin May 19, 1999 443 301 67.9% 55 14 70 Approved
Vladimir Putin August 16, 1999 443 233 52.6% 84 17 105 Approved
Mikhail Kasyanov May 17, 2000 441 325 72.7% 55 15 52 Approved
Mikhail Fradkov March 5, 2004 445 352 79.1% 58 24 13 Approved
May 12, 2004 445 356 80% 72 8 11 Approved
Viktor Zubkov September 14, 2007 445 381 85.6% 47 8 9 Approved
Vladimir Putin May 8, 2008 450 392 87.1% 56 0 0 Approved
Dmitry Medvedev May 8, 2012 450 299 66.4% 144 0 0 Approved
May 8, 2018 446 374 83.9% 56 0 14 Approved[15]
Mikhail Mishustin January 16, 2020 449 383 85.1% 0 41 25 Approved[16]

Removal from office[edit | edit source]

The Prime Minister may be dismissed by the President at any time at the President's discretion. The Prime Minister may also tender his resignation to the President on his own initiative. The President may reject such resignation and oblige him to continue working. The Prime Minister and the whole government are constitutionally obliged to resign after the inauguration of a newly elected President. At the same time, the President has the right to dismiss both the entire government together with the Prime Minister, and only Prime Minister, retaining the government.[17]

Under certain circumstances, the President may also theoretically be forced to dismiss the Chairman and the whole government under the pressure of the State Duma. For that to happen, the State Duma has to pass a censure motion against the Government twice within three months. Normally, in this case the President has the right to choose whether to sack the government or to dissolve the Duma (and if the Duma passes the censure motion just once, the President may also choose "not to agree" with the decision of the Duma, which technically means that neither the cabinet nor the Duma are dismissed).

However, within one year after parliamentary elections the dissolution of the State Duma is impossible on these grounds. That is why in this case the President does not have any other option but to dismiss the Government (even if he totally supports it).

Term of office[edit | edit source]

Initially, the term of office of the Prime Minister was not formally established. The head of the government served in his post for as long as the Emperor thought necessary.

In Soviet times, the term of the Prime Minister was also unlimited. The Chairman Council of Ministers of the Russian SFSR served in the position until he was dismissed by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

A term limit was introduced after the creation of the post of the President of Russia. Government became subordinate to the President, so the Prime Minister must resign along with the President, but may be appointed again. From 1991 to 1996, the maximum term of office of the Prime Minister was 5 years. After the new Constitution of Russia was created, the term of office of the President, and therefore the term of office of the Prime Minister, was shortened to 4 years. In 2012, after amendments to the Constitution the term of the President and Prime Minister was increased to 6 years.

Acting Prime Minister[edit | edit source]

Temporary absence[edit | edit source]

The Federal constitutional law "On the Government of the Russian Federation" says "in the case of temporary absence of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, his duties are performed by one of the Deputy Chairmen of the Government of the Russian Federation in accordance with a written distribution of responsibilities". It's automatically and President's Executive Order is not required in that moment. The Federal constitutional law "On the Government of the Russian Federation" does not limit the term of "temporary absence" of the Prime Minister and the term of work of the acting Prime Minister.[18]

There can be more than one First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, therefore written distribution of responsibilities is the most important document. The office of First Vice-Premier is not provisioned by Constitution and it is not separate office. The Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Russia says, that "The Government of the Russian Federation consists of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation and federal ministries".

When the whole of government resigned[edit | edit source]

The Prime Minister can leave his post at his own request or if it is impossible for him to exercise his powers. The Federal constitutional law "On the Government of the Russian Federation" says that the dismissal of the Prime Minister entails the resignation of the entire government. If the Prime Minister resigns, the President has the right to delegate his duties to one of his Vice-premiers. This situation cannot continue for more than two months — this period is reserved for the head of state to select a candidate for a new Prime Minister and submit it to The state Duma.[19]

Very often, the acting Prime Minister later proposed the State Duma as the new Prime Minister.

Succession of the presidency[edit | edit source]

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin became Acting President after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin

In case of the President's death, resignation or impeachment, the Prime Minister becomes a temporary president until new presidential elections which must take place within three months. The Prime Minister as Acting President may not dissolve the State Duma, announce a referendum or propose amendments to the Constitution.

The Chairman of the Federation Council is the third important position after the President and the Prime Minister. In the case of incapacity of the President and Prime Minister, the chairman of the upper house of parliament becomes acting head of state.[20][21]

Living former Prime Ministers[edit | edit source]

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (centre) in February 2020 with former Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev (left) and Vladimir Putin (right)

As of June 2021, eight former Prime Ministers remain alive. The most recent death of a former Prime Minister was that of Yevgeny Primakov (1998–1999) on 26 June 2015, aged 85.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ UNITED NATIONS HEADS OF STATE HEADS OF GOVERNMENT MINISTERS FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS Protocol and Liaison Service
  2. ^ "Зарплаты президентов - Новости Таджикистана ASIA-Plus". https://news.tj/ru/node/187868. 
  3. ^ Федеральный конституционный закон «О ПРАВИТЕЛЬСТВЕ РОССИЙСКОЙ ФЕДЕРАЦИИ» Script error: No such module "webarchive". kremlin.ru 17 декабря 1997.
  4. ^ 7 царских председателей Совета министров
  5. ^ Первое министерство И.Л. Горемыкина и Государственная дума первого созыва
  6. ^ НАЦИОНАЛЬНАЯ ПОЛИТИЧЕСКАЯ ЭНЦИКЛОПЕДИЯ. ТЕХНИЧЕСКИЙ ПРЕМЬЕР
  7. ^ "The Constitution of the Russian Federation: Section One, Chapter 6. – The Government of the Russian Federation". Bucknell University. http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/ch6.html. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  8. ^ Конституция (Основной Закон) Российской Советской Федеративной Социалистической Республики (утверждена постановлением Чрезвычайного XVII Всероссийского Съезда Советов от 21 января 1937 г.) Глава III. Высшие органы государственной власти Российской Советской Федеративной Социалистической Республики
  9. ^ Конституция (Основной закон) Российской Советской Федеративной Социалистической Республики от 12 апреля 1978 г. Глава 14. Совет Министров РСФСР
  10. ^ CONSTITUTION of the RUSSIAN FEDERATION Chapter 6. The Government of the Russian Federation
  11. ^ Transcript of the meeting
  12. ^ Transcript of the meeting
  13. ^ Transcript of the meeting
  14. ^ Transcript of the meeting
  15. ^ Госдума согласилась на назначение Медведева главой правительства РФ
  16. ^ Госдума одобрила Мишустина на пост премьера
  17. ^ [http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_28399/863184db4f609c547d33cad5346107a505f5ee32/ "Конституция Российской Федерации" (принята всенародным голосованием 12.12.1993 с изменениями, одобренными в ходе общероссийского голосования 01.07.2020). Статья 117]
  18. ^ https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4335704
  19. ^ https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4335704
  20. ^ "Пост Председателя Совета Федерации РФ – это третий пост в стране. В случае недееспособности президента и премьера именно председатель верхней палаты парламента должен возглавить государство."
  21. ^ "Почему у нас третье лицо в государстве Председатель Совета Федерации? Потому что это федерация, он не распускается, он действует постоянно." - Сергей Шахрай

External links[edit | edit source]

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