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Government and Politics

Government: Democratic, federative form of government under 1993 constitution. Divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. President, elected to four-year term, sets basic tone of domestic and foreign policy, represents state at home and abroad. Prime minister appoints Government (cabinet) to administer executive-branch functions. Forty ministries, state committees, and services; reduction in Government size planned late 1996. Prime minister administers policy according to constitution, laws, and presidential decrees. New Government named August 1996 following presidential election, retaining some key members from previous administration. Boris N. Yeltsin president, first elected 1991. Viktor Chernomyrdin prime minister, reap-pointed August 1996. Parliament, bicameral Federal Assembly, has lower house, State Duma, with 450 members serving four-year terms; last election December 1995. Upper house, Fed-eration Council, has 178 seats (two members representing the executive and legislative bodies of each of the eighty-nine subnational jurisdictions). Three highest judicial bodies Con-stitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Superior Court of Arbi-tration. Judges appointed by president with confirmation from the Federation Council required. Jurisprudence advancing slowly toward Western standards; jury trials held only in some regions.

Politics: Largest party representation in State Duma by Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia, Our Home Is Russia, and Yabloko coalition. More than a dozen other parties have representation in State Duma. Personal connections, personalities retain impact in politics as national parties develop slowly, government figures avoid party affiliation; shifting coalitions typical in State Duma. Seventy-eight nominal independents in State Duma.

Administrative Divisions: Twenty-one autonomous republics, forty-nine oblasts (provinces), six territories (kraya; sing., kray), ten autonomous regions (okruga; sing., okrug), one autono-mous oblast. Cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg with separate status at oblast level.

Foreign Relations: In early 1990s, basically pro-Western, drastic change from Soviet era. Russia cofounded Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991 and assumed Soviet Union seats in many international organizations. Dependence on foreign assistance greatly increased in 1990s. Beginning in 1993, substantial domestic political pressure mitigated stance toward participation in Western-dominated organizations and treaties, reemphasis of independent national power. So-called Eurasianism assumes unique role in world affairs and primary concerns in Asia rather than Europe. Chechnya crisis and nuclear transactions with Iran bring international criticism, although summits with United States president continue, 1997. Policy toward successor states marked by interest in reinte-gration of CIS countries and well-being of Russians living outside borders of Russian Federation. Expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into Central Europe major issue in 1996. Other key issues include improvement of relations with China and insistence on strict interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty). Member of Council of Europe, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP), United Nations (UN) and its Security Council, and World Bank.

National Security

Armed Forces: Approximately 1.5 million personnel in 1996, but sharp cuts and reorganization forecast. Term of active duty two years. Units filled mainly by conscription, with some contract personnel. Women may serve if they possess specialized skills. Armed forces divided into ground forces, naval forces, air forces, air defense forces, strategic rocket forces. Ground forces personnel 670,000 (210,000 conscripts); naval forces 200,000 (40,000 conscripts); air forces 130,000 (40,000 conscripts); air defense forces 200,000 (60,000 conscripts); strategic rocket forces 100,000 (50,000 conscripts).

Military Presence Overseas: Transcaucasus Group of Forces--9,000 personnel in Armenia, with one air defense MiG-23 squadron. 22,000 personnel in Georgia, with one air force composite regiment of thirty-five aircraft. Azerbaijan refuses Russian troop presence. Forces in other former Soviet republics: Moldova 6,400 personnel, Tajikistan 12,000 personnel, Turkmenistan 11,000 personnel, and several thousand each in Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan. Contributions to UN missions in Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq/Kuwait, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Rwanda, and Western Sahara. Signal and intelligence personnel in Vietnam, Syria, Cuba, Mongolia, and parts of Africa.

Military Budget: 1997 defense budget submitted August 1996 allots 100.8 trillion rubles (about US$19 billion), of 260 trillion rubles requested by Ministry of Defense. Anticipated 1998 budget somewhat higher. Maintenance and salaries far below required levels. Anti-inflationary budget restraints cause dissension among ministries and continued military morale decline.

Internal Security Forces: Reorganized after fall of Soviet Union but with many extraconstitutional functions ongoing and only partial transparency. Power, but not effectiveness, grows as crime wave continues in mid-1990s. Ministry of Internal Affairs had 540,000 troops, including regular police and special units, in 1996. Federal Border Service, 135,000 troops in 1994, then augmented substantially. Main Guard Directorate (presidential guard), 20,000 troops, 1994. Troops of Federal Security Service and Ministry of Internal Affairs heavily involved in Chechnya conflict, 1994-96.

Data as of July 1996

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Russia Table of Contents