The place of the President in the state power system is defined by the prerogatives the Constitution gives the head of state with regard to the different branches of power, especially the executive branch. Though legally separate from all the branches of power, the President is nonetheless closer to the executive branch. This closer relation between the President and the executive branch is reflected in the specific constitutional powers the President has as head of state.
The reasons for this constitutional situation are linked to the way governments are formed in Russia. The Constitution does not tie the government’s formation to the distribution of seats among the different parties and factions in the parliament. In other words, the party that holds the majority in parliament can be asked to form a government, but this is not automatically the case. Either way is permitted by the Constitution. If the government’s composition does not reflect the parliamentary majority, however, problems in various areas, including law-making, can arise within the executive power system’s work. The result would be to make the executive power system less effective and less able to deal with the tasks at hand.
In order to resolve this kind of problem, the Constitution gives the President a number of powers that he can use in routine fashion to influence the Government’s work.
The President has, for example, significant constitutional prerogatives when it comes to deciding the Government’s composition and work procedures.
With the State Duma’s approval, the President appoints the Prime Minister. Acting on the Prime Minister’s proposals, the President appoints and releases deputy prime ministers and federal ministers, and approves the structure of the federal executive bodies of power.
A number of federal executive bodies come under the President’s direct authority. These bodies are collectively commonly known as the ‘presidential bloc’. Within this group the ‘security bloc’ is often distinguished separately (these terms have firmly established themselves in the political lexicon, but they have no official basis in law).
As head of state, commander in chief, and chairman of the Security Council, the President has the right to preside over government meetings and issue instructions to the government and the federal executive bodies of power responsible for defence, security, internal and foreign affairs, justice, prevention of emergency situations and disaster relief.
The President presents the government every year with a budget policy address. Under the provisions of the Budget Code, the President’s budget policy address forms an integral part of the procedures for drafting the federal budget. The President’s budget policy addresses set the strategic and short-term outlines for budget policy. These policy outlines play a determining role in medium-term budget planning and in drafting the federal budget for the coming year.
The President has the right to decide independently to dismiss the government. The Constitution does not stipulate the grounds for making such a decision. This means that the President can decide this matter himself.
If the State Duma votes no confidence in the government or refuses the government its confidence in accordance with the established procedures twice within a three-month period, the President either dismisses the government or dissolves the State Duma.
The government can hand in its own resignation. The President has the power to accept or reject this resignation. If the President rejects the government’s resignation, the government continues its work.
It is in the relations between the President and the government that the President’s imperatives in carrying out domestic and foreign policy find their fullest reflection. The government and the federal executive system in general are more closely linked to the President and more directly under his control than are the other branches of power.
National security is a very broad term that encompasses the security of the individual, society and the state in the face of both internal and external threats.
National security involves priority areas such as state security, public safety, socioeconomic security and security in the spheres of defense, information, the military and international affairs.
The need for constant analysis and strategic planning regarding all security issues, as well as the drafting of presidential decisions, necessitates the existence of a special constitutional advisory body accountable to the President. This body is the Security Council.
The Security Council drafts policy proposals on defending the vital interests of individuals, society and the state against internal or external threats. The Council also helps determine a uniform state policy on security and helps ensure the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional duties in defending human and civil rights, as well as Russia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
The Security Council is formed by the President in accordance with the Constitution and the Federal Law “On Security”. The President chairs the Council and appoints its members. The secretary of the Security Council who answers directly to the President oversees the Council’s work and its Office.
The Security Council was formed in 1992.
The Security Council Office is a separate department of the Presidential Executive Office; its status within the Presidential Executive Office is that of a directorate.
In order to carry out its functions, the Security Council forms inter-agency commissions, which operate as its principal working bodies. Depending on the task, these commissions can be formed on a functional or regional basis, and can be permanent or temporary.
In order to provide scholarly expertise for the Council’s work, there is a Scholarly Council made up of representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences, specialized academies of science and educational institutions, as well as other academics and experts.
Regular meetings of the Security Council are held according to a schedule set by the Chairman (the President of Russia); if necessary, the Council can hold extraordinary meetings. The Chairman defines the agenda and order of the day based on recommendations by the Secretary of the Security Council. The Chairman presides over meetings, while the Secretary holds working meetings with Council members on a regular basis.
The Security Council draws up crucial documents defining conceptual approaches to national security.
The current State Council was established by the President on September 1, 2000. The council is an advisory body to the Head of State, which deals with issues of the highest importance to the state as a whole.
The President signed the decree forming the State Council on the basis of articles 80 and 85 of the Constitution and the newly passed Federal Law “On the Procedure for Forming the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.”
The President formed the State Council in order to harness the potential of regional leaders. In doing so, he took into account the requests and proposals of Federation Council members and State Duma deputies.
In its capacity as an advisory body, the State Council aids the President in discharging his duties to ensure the concerted functioning and interaction of various governmental bodies.
The Chairman of the State Council is the President of Russia.
The Presidential Domestic Affairs Directorate is responsible for the administrative support of the State Council.
The Council is made up of the heads (governors and presidents) of Russia’s constituent territories. Other persons may be appointed to the Council at the President’s discretion.
On September 2, 2000, the President established the Presidium of the State Council, whose task is to prepare for State Council sessions. The Presidium comprises the heads of seven constituent territories representing each of the seven federal districts. Members of the Presidium rotate every six months, as envisaged by the regulations of the State Council and the Presidential Decree on the Council’s Presidium.
The State Council considers issues of particular importance to the state, such as the development of governmental institutions, economic and social reforms and other objects affecting the public as a whole.
The sessions are the principal medium for the work of the State Council and are held four times a year without a rigid timetable. Each session focuses on a single issue.
On the eve of a session of the State Council, the Presidium meets to discuss the following day’s issue.
It has also become accepted practice to discuss some issues at joint sessions of the State Council’s Presidium and the Security Council, sometimes with the participation of other presidential advisory bodies.