Russia flag Russia: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Russia

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (since 7 May 2012 ; re-elected on March 18th 2018) - United Russia
Prime Minister: Mikhail Mishustin (since 16 January 2020) - United Russia
Next Election Dates
Presidential: March 2024
State Duma: September 2026
Current Political Context
On February 24th 2022, Russia initiated a military conflict on the Ukrainian territory, which profoundly upsets the current political context in both countries and will have substantial political and economic ramifications. For the ongoing updates on the developments of Russia-Ukraine conflict please consult the dedicated pages on BBC News.

Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for 17 years, started a new six-year presidential term in May 2018. Continuing from his previous term, he emphasises conservative values, anti-Westernism and the nationalism of the great powers. During the municipal and regional elections held in September 2019, the United Russia party lost a third of its seats in the Moscow City Legislative Assembly. His popularity was undermined by the pension reform. Weakened approval ratings resulted in the abrupt resignation of the government, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in January 2020. Mikhail Mishustin, the former head of the federal tax service, took office as the new prime minister. In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Putin called for a referendum that validated constitutional changes that allow him to seek re-election in 2024 and potentially remain in power until 2036. Mishustin’s new influence was demonstrated in the reshuffle that took place in November 2020 and that brought business-minded technocrats in the cabinet. The September 2021 Duma elections, in which United Russia secured its constitutional majority, were tainted by fraud and preceded by a wave of repression. The main opposition figure Aleksei Navalnyi was jailed.

Internationally, as Joe Biden took office as the new US president in January 2021, bilateral relations with the US have entered another period of uncertainty. The first summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin was held in June 2021, signalling the launch of a dialogue on security issues. After agreeing to normalise the situation in north-western Syria in 2019, Russia and Turkey's relationship benefitted again from the Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal brokered by Moscow and signed by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in November 2020. In November 2021, a standoff at the Poland-Belarus border between Polish border guards and thousands of migrants attempting to pass through Belarus on the way to the EU reactivated the tensions between Russia and the EU. For the first time in three years, the Russian and Ukrainian presidents met over the Donbass conflict in December 2019, but no peace solution was found. After an increasingly hostile rhetoric and prolonged military build-up in 2021, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th 2022. Western countries adopted an unprecedented range of sanctions aimed at pushing the Russian economy into a deep recession and isolating the country from the rest of the world. Major Asian states have signed up to export controls on semi-conductors, and at the 25 February UN Security Council vote condemning the invasion of Ukraine, China opted for abstention. As Ukrainian President Zelensky called on the population to defend their country, Russian forces faced an unexpected resistance. In Russia, demonstrations against the aggression were severely repressed, and accessed to social media was restricted. Risks to domestic stability will increase as the war goes on and the economic and humanitarian costs mount.
Main Political Parties
In Russia, the powers of the executive were greatly increased by the adoption of a new constitution in 1993. The political apparatus is overwhelmingly in the hands of the United Russia party. While opposition parties are authorised, there is little chance for these parties to wield any real power. The main parties are:

-United Russia
: centrist, remains the largest and seemingly most popular party in Russia, self declared focus on 'Russian conservatism'
-Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF): left-wing, seeks to establish modern socialism
-A Fair Russia (CP): centre-left, ally of United Russia
-Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR): far-right, opposes communism and capitalism, self described as centrist, an extreme right nationalist political party.
Executive Power
The President is the Head of State. He is elected by universal suffrage for six years. He is the commander-in-chief of the army and the real centre of power in the country. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government. He is appointed by the President, with the approval of the lower house of Parliament, and manages the everyday business of the country.
Legislative Power
Russia has a two-chamber legislative power. The Parliament, called the Federal Assembly, is composed of: the Council of the Federation (upper chamber), which has 170 seats and the members are appointed by the regional governors and legislative institutions, for a four-year term of office; and the State Douma (lower chamber), which has 450 seats; its members are elected by direct universal suffrage from partisan lists, for a four-year term.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
150/180

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders

 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Not Free
Political Freedom:
7/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: May 2022

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