Medvedev's Nomination and the Distribution of Powers

On 17 December 2007, upon the recommendation of President Putin, the VIII Congress of the United Russia Party voted to nominate Dmitry Medvedev as its candidate for president in 2008. The vote was held by secret ballot: 478 delegates voted for and only one against. In recommending Medvedev to the Congress, Putin said "If our people, the citizens of Russia, place their trust in Dmitry Anatolevich Medvedev and elect him as the new President of Russia, then I will be ready to continue our common work in the capacity of Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, without any changes in the distribution of powers between the institutions of the President and the Government." The Chairman of the Government is Russia's Prime Minister.

According to the constitution, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President and confirmed in office by the Duma. If it rejects a presidential nominee three times, the President dissolves the Duma and calls a new election. This is an unlikely scenario in present circumstances, since, as a result of the 2007 Duma election, United Russia has 70 percent of the Duma seats.

Accepting United Russia's nomination, Dmitry Mededev promised to continue President Putin's policies and said "I know that the full implementation of this strategy is only possible with its author, with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. That is why in taking the decision to stand, I thought it vitally important that in the event of our victory he and none other should head the Government which will be formed after the election of the Head of State. I am genuinely delighted that Vladimr Putin has accepted this proposal."

No Russian president or Soviet general secretary has ever continued to play a significant role in politics after leaving the top office. If United Russia's plan goes ahead, Putin will bring to the office of prime minister an unprecedented authority. Formally, the distribution of powers between the President and the Government is as follows:

  • appoints the Chairman of the Government (Prime Minister).
  • can preside over meetings of the Government;
  • can dismiss the Government;
  • appoints the Chairman of the Central Bank subject to consent of the Duma;
  • appoints deputy prime ministers and federal ministers on nomination by the Prime Minister;
  • nominates Constitutional Court and Supreme Court judges, as well as the Prosecutor-General subject to consent of the the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council;
  • forms the staff of the President (the "presidential administration");
  • grants pardons and political asylum, awards decorations;
  • heads the Security Council;
  • can impose a State of Emergency;
  • endorses military doctrine;
  • is Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces;
  • calls elections to the Duma;
  • calls referendums;
  • can introduce bills in the Duma;
  • can issue decrees on any matter, as long as they are within the constitution and federal laws;
  • signs federal laws, and can veto them; overriding the President's veto requires a two-thirds majority of the Duma and the Federation Council;
  • presents an annual address to the both houses of parliament, the Federal Assembly;
  • posesses immunity;
  • oversees foreign policy;
  • negotiates and sign treaties, and signs instruments of ratification;
  • appoints Russia's diplomatic representatives and accepts credentials of foreign diplomats.
  • consists of the Chairman of the Government (Prime Minister), Deputy Chairmen (Deputy Prime Ministers) and federal ministers;
  • drafts and submits the federal budget to the Duma;
  • ensures the implementation of a uniform financial, credit and monetary policy;
  • ensures the implementation of a uniform state policy in the fields of culture, science, education, health, social security and ecology;
  • manages federal property;
  • adopts measures to ensure the country's defense, state security and the implementation of foreign policy;
  • implements measures to ensure legality and the rights and freedoms of citizens, to protect property and public law and order and control crime;
  • issues decrees and orders implementing the Constitution, federal laws, presidential decrees etc.; governmental decrees can be repealed by the President;
  • exercises any other powers vested in it by the Constitution, federal laws and presidential decrees;
  • lays down its powers before the newly-elected President
  • may hand in its resignation which may be accepted or rejected by the President
  • can be subject to a no-confidence vote by a simple majority of deputies Duma. If the Duma takes such a vote twice in three months, the President either dismisses the Government or dissolves the Duma.
  • submits to the President proposals on the structures of the federal bodies of executive power.
  • proposes to the President of the Russian Federation candidates for the office of Deputy Prime Ministers and federal ministers.
  • can submit the Government to a vote of no confidence in the Duma. If the Duma votes no confidence, the President must either dismiss the Government or dissolve the Duma.
Sources: Transcript of Closing Session of the VIII Congress of United Russia, 17 December 2007., accessed 8.1.08.; Russian Constitution (1993), English translation at, accessed 8.1.08
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