Legal Structure of Russia and Electronic Sources of Russian Law

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

London

 

Thursday 21st February 2002

 

Anne Pries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Anne P. Pries-Heijke

Institute of East European Law

and Russian Studies

Hugo de Grootstraat 32

2311 XK Leiden, the Netherlands

E-Mail: a.p.pries@law.leidenuniv.nl

E-Mail: mailto:a.pries@12move.nl

 

Introduction

Basic Documents

The Constitution of the Russian Federation

The Federative Treaty

State Structure of the Russian Federation

The President of the Russian Federation

Legislative Authorities

The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

The Federation Council

The State Duma

Executive Authorities

The Government of the Russian Federation

State Committee of Statistics

The Security Council

Other Security Bodies

Judicial System of the Russian Federation

The Constitutional Court

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Arbitration Court

(Legal) Databases

Russian databases

Websites and databases of western organisations.

Russian Search engines

Russian Electronic News

Western Electronic Publications

Summary: Where to find what publication?

Some Criteria for the Selection of Databases

 

 

Introduction

 

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the RF became its largest successor state, inheriting its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, as well as the bulk of its foreign assets and debt.

The 1993 Constitution declares Russia a democratic and Federative State with a republican form of government. Federative relations were formed on the basis of the Constitution of the RF, the Federative Treaty and agreements between the Federal Centre and the Subjects of the Federation.

The RF consists of 89 federal subjects: 21 autonomous republics, 6 krais (provinces), 49 oblast (regions), two cities of federal status (Moscow and Saint-Petersburg), one autonomous oblast and 10 autonomous okrugs (districts), each endowed with equal rights. Each Republic has its own constitution and legislation. Each territory, region, federal city, autonomous region etc. has its own charter and legislation.

The Legislative, Executive and Judicial authorities are independent of each other.

 

Basic Documents

The Constitution of the Russian Federation

 

The present Constitution of the RF was adopted on 12 December 1993. No substantial amendments to the Constitution were introduced since then. Sub units of the RF have their own constituent documents.

The Constitution of the RF includes the following chapters:

The Constitution of the RF 1993 (in Russian): http://www.nns.ru/sudy/konsti/konstirf.html

The Constitution of the RF 1993 (in English)
http://www.democracy.ru/english/library/laws/constitution_eng/

The Declaration of Independence of Russia 1990 (in Russian)
http://www.cityline.ru/politika/doc/dogs.html

History of Russia’s Constitution (in English)
http://russia.strana.ru/stories/2000/12/12/976619013/976617192.html

The Constitution of the RSFSR 1918 (in English)
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/1918toc.html

The Constitution of the USSR 1936 (in English)
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/1936toc.html

The Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the USSR 1977 (in English)
http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/1977toc.html

 

The Federative Treaty

The Federative Treaty was signed on March 31, 1992 by plenipotentiary representatives of the federal state power bodies of the RF and the power bodies of republics within the RF. (http://www.misufa.ru/nb/shared/federationdogovorrf.htm).

 

State Structure of the Russian Federation

The Russian Government Internet Network (in Russian) http://www.gov.ru
(Официальная Россия) gives official information and references to the Web pages of the State Authorities. The site has links to all subjects of the RF, with their respective websites (if any).

 

State power in the RF is exercised by

 

The President of the Russian Federation

The President (http://president.kremlin.ru/) as the head of state:

 

Federal legislation can be initiated by the President, the Federation Council, the State Duma, the Government, legislative and executive bodies of subjects of the RF, as well as by the Constitutional Court, Higher Commercial Court, and the Supreme Court of General Jurisdiction.

All draft laws are sent to the Duma. After approval by the Duma, the law is passed to the Federation Council for review. After approval by the Federation Council the law goes to the President for signing and promulgation.

Federal laws take effect only after they are signed by the President and published in the governmental newspaper Российская Газета (Russian Gazette) (issued 5 times a week), to be found at: (http://www.rg.ru/oficial/).

 

All federal laws are binding on the entire territory of the RF.

 

The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

The Federal Assembly is the permanently functioning representative and legislative organ of the RF. See: http://www.gov.ru/main/page7.html

Its official publication is: Ведомости Федерального Собрание РФ (Bulletin of the Federal Assembly of the RF). In addition the Парламентская Газета (Parliamentary Gazette) was introduced, in October 1999, issued five times a week, with news and drafts of laws.

Russian Federal Assembly. Powers and Procedures (in English)
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2568/gdsfpro0.html

 

The Federal Assembly consists of two chambers:

 

The Federation Council

The Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the RF has an official website http://www.council.gov.ru/) Also in English.

The council has 178 members from the 89 regions. The procedure for the formation of the Federation Council is established by the Federal Law of the RF "On the Formation of the Federal Council of the Federal Assembly of the RF (07.08.2000)" http://www.100mb.ru/~grankin/docs/ru_zak002.htm).

 

The State Duma

The State Duma http://www.duma.gov.ru is the lower house of the Federal Assembly. The Duma consists of 450 deputies, elected for a four-year term.

The Duma has 28 Committees, of which one is for legislation (http://www.duma.gov.ru/deputats/committe.htm).

Laws, decrees and other acts of the Federation Council and the Duma have to be published in the governmental Российская Газета or in the Собрание законодательства РФ (Collection of legislation of the RF), published by the Administration of the President (weekly).

The Ведомости Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации (Bulletin of the Federal Assembly of the RF), issued three times a month, contains a chronological collection of all laws etc. approved by both chambers of the Federation Assembly.

On the Internet site of the Library of the Duma: www.duma.ru/parlib/ the following materials are to be found:

 

The Parliamentary Library’s own electronic legal databases are for intern use. The library of the Duma does collect official documents of other CIS countries and Baltic States in paper form. The librarian is Irina Andreeva (mailto:andreeva@duma.gov.ru).

Statistics of the Legislative activity of the State Duma of the RF (in Russian)
http://www.duma.gov.ru/lawstat/index.php
This database on the official site of the State Duma covers the information about the legislative activity of the State Duma of the RF (1996 -->).

Press Services Reports on the DUMA (full text in English) published by the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the RF
http://www.ln.mid.ru/website/bl.nsf/goseng?OpenView&Start=1&Count=50&Expand=4#4

An overview of daily updates of legislation etc. from the Duma, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, and the Central Bank can be found at: http://www.bre.ru/new_laws.php4 and

http://zakon.kuban.ru/sayt/index.htm человек и закон (Man and Law): Legislation of the RF- up-to-date.

Codes are comprehensive and systematic statements of major areas of law, such as civil law, civil procedure, criminal law, criminal procedure etc. Codes are to be found at the site: Российская законодательство (Legislation of Russia): http://rus-code.virtualave.net/ and also at www.laws.ru situated in Nizhny Novgorod and http://chuvashia.com.ru/law. With full texts of laws.

 

Executive Authorities

The federal executive branch is represented by the President and the Government of the RF. The structure is given at: http://www.gov.ru/main/ministry/isp-vlast47.html (in Russian and English).

 

The Government of the Russian Federation

The Government of the is subdivided into

The website of the Government of the RF http://www.government.gov.ru/ (in Russian and English) comprises three sections:

 

The site reference sections provide biographies of the Prime Minister, Cabinet Members and federal executive leaders. The Ministries’ pages contain statutes of federal executive bodies and give links to Web-sites of Ministries and Departments. Daily news updates under the headings of "Official Chronicle" and "Press Releases" are the most popular pages of the site. These pages offer exclusive news earlier than the media.

The Government of the RF issues decrees and orders and ensures their implementation. The decrees and orders of the Government of the RF are binding throughout the RF. The official Governmental Gazette Российская Газета can be found at: http://www.rg.ru/

Вся Власть на WWW (The whole Government on WWW)
http://gosorgan.amursk.ru/
This site has links to the Russian government, Federal ministries, services and state committees, to the executive authorities of Federal subjects of the RF, to the parties, to political and non-governmental organizations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishes a Daily news bulletin in English on its website: http://www.mid.ru/ . The site offers electronic publications of the periodicals: Дипломатический Вестник (Diplomatic Bulletin) and Международная жизнь (International Life).

The Ministry of Justice publishes the general monthly gazette specializing in general departmental legislation: Бюллетень нормативных актов Федеральных органов исполнительной власти (Bulletin of normative acts of the Federal Organs of the executive Powers) to be found at http://www.systema.ru/

The databases of the Ministry of Justice can be found at: http://www.scli.ru/dbs/o_dbs.asp

The site http://www.scli.ru/dbs/ras1etal.asp gives the structure of the section "legislation" of the database „Эталон", a full text database containing over 50.000 texts of normative acts.

 

The State Committee for Statistics, responsible for the official Statistics can be found at http://www.gks.ru/

(The official statistics of almost all countries can be found at the website of the Dutch Central Statistical Office: http://www.cbs.nl/en/services/links/)

 

The Security Council

The Security Council (http://www.scrf.gov.ru/) is a constitutional organ that prepares the RF president’s decisions in the sphere of security.

Press Services Reports on the Security Council of the RF (in English) http://www.ln.mid.ru/website/bl.nsf/goseng?OpenView&Start=1&Count=50&Expand=2#2

Security and Defence Councils (in English)
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/russia/councils.htm

On the RF Security Council (in English)
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/russia/docs/edict_1024.htm
Text of the Presidential Edict No. 1024 (10 July 1996)

 

Other Security Bodies

The heads of state organs responsible for security and defence directly subordinate to the President:

FSB: History, Legislative Authorities, Operations, Counterintelligence Cases, Organization, Budget and Personnel (in English)
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/russia/fsb/index.html

SVR: (in English)
http://www.agentura.ru/english/dosie/svr/

Information about the structure and history of Foreign Intelligence Service, its personnel and documents adjusting SVR activity.

FAPSI: History, Legislative Authorities, Operations, Organization, Budget and Personnel (in English). Fapsi has a very useful and up-to-date database of official documentation.
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/russia/fapsi/index.html

FAPSI History (in Russian & in English)
http://www.agentura.ru/english/dosie/fapsi/story/


National security (in Russian & in English)
http://www.agentura.ru/english/

 

 

Judicial System of the Russian Federation

 

The judicial system of the RF consists of:

On the Court System in the RF (in English)
http://nadzor.vvsu.ru/English/legislation/show_law.asp?id=6

Russia’s Judiciary (in English)
http://www.supcourt.ru/EN/rj.htm

Judicial System of the RF and the Supreme Court of the RF (in English)
http://www.supcourt.ru/EN/frames.htm

 

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation

 

The Constitutional Court of the RF consists of 19 judges appointed by the Federation Council upon nomination made by the President of the RF.

The Constitutional Court of the RF is the judicial body of constitutional review. Its official website is: http://ks.rfnet.ru/

The rulings (посстановления) and decisions (решения) of the Constitutional court are to be found here. A selection is also in English, or has an English summary. Several decisions are only known from the Website. Decisions of the Constitutional Court are published in the Российская Газета (Russian Gazette) or in the official gazettes Ведомости федерального Собрания Российской Федерации (Bulletin of the Federal Assembly of the RF) and Собрание законодательства РФ (Collection of legislation of the RF).

Selected Decisions of the Constitutional Court of the RF (in English)
http://ks.rfnet.ru/english/codicese.htm

Constitutional Court: Development and activity (in English)
http://ks.rfnet.ru/english/booklet.htm

Federal Constitutional Law on the Constitutional Court of the RF (12.07.1994) (in English)
http://ks.rfnet.ru/english/ksengl.htm

 

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation

The Supreme Court of the RF (http://www.supcourt.ru/) is the supreme judicial body. Its official publication: Бюллетень Верховного Суда Р.Ф. (БВС) (Bulletin of the Supreme Court of the RF) can be found on this site (full text).

The Supreme Court of the RF has the following structure http://www.supcourt.ru/1/structure/index.htm:

 

The Supreme Court has the right of the legislative initiative. The Supreme Court acts as a court of first instance for cases of special importance or special public interest.

Judgments of the general courts: on www.supcourt.ru, with legislation on the Supreme Court, decisions of the Supreme Court, the Civil Court, Criminal Court and Military Court

 

The Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation

The Supreme Arbitration (Commercial) Court is the highest judiciary body resolving economic disputes and other cases considered by arbitration courts. Besides information on the System of Arbitrage in de RF and legislation on commercial courts, the main website: www.arbitr.ru gives very useful links to other official institutions and several Legal databases.

The activity of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the RF is regulated by the Federal Constitutional Law "On the Arbitration Courts in the RF" (05.04.1995) (http://www.arbitr.ru/as/doc/fkzn1/part1.htm) and the Arbitration Procedural Code (05.04.1995) (http://www.arbitr.ru/as/doc/apk/index.htm), as well as the Federal constitutional law «On the judicial system of the RF».

The monthly Вестник Высшего Арбитражного Суда РФ (Bulletin of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the RF) is the official publication of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the RF, available at http://www.vestnik-vas.ru/ since 1998.  

Historical Background (in English)
http://www.arbitr.ru/eng/sysac.htm

The history of the commercial and arbitration courts in Russia.

Database of the Arbitration practice (in Russian)
http://frame.arbitr.ru:8080/law?d&nd=980405161

This database of the Kodeks Legal Information system contains the texts of the documents of the arbitration practice from1992 onwards.

 

(Legal) Databases

Russian legal systems and databases

Although the greater part of the Russian legal databases are fee based, an ordinary Russian citizen can get access to commercial databases free of charge through a chain of so-called legal centers, currently being established in public libraries.

 

The FAPSI database of Russian Legislation "Systema" is the official database of Russia. All text of laws are official and have been published in the following Official Publications:

Online search free of charge but fee based for users outside the RF. http://www.systema.ru/

 

 

Legal System "Гарант/Garant" (in Russian and English) http://www.garant.ru/ partially free of charge. This database has a section "hot documents" (горячие документы) in which fresh legal materials of Russia, Moscow and SPB can be found, free of charge.

Legislation of Russia in English http://garant.park.ru/eng/default.asp?page=internet This database includes codes, laws, decrees of the President, decisions and other normative acts of the Government of the RF, documents of the higher juridical bodies of the RF, normative legal acts of the bodies of executive authority, international agreements and conventions. It is the worlds only sufficiently complete bank of Russian legal information translated into English. Mainly fee based.

 

Information Legal System "Кодекс/Kodeks" (in Russian and English) .http://www.kodeks.net
http://www2.kodeks.net/index.html, http://www.kodeks.com/
Contains over 250,000 documents of Russian federal legislation, international and foreign law, regional legislation of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Leningrad Regions and many other entities within the Federation.

Partially free of Charge http://www2.kodeks.net/free/free.html see also: www2.kodeks.net/eng/

Database "Business Law of Russia"(in English) http://www2.kodeks.net/n-zakeng

Kodeks Legal Information Consortium (in English) http://www.fort-ross.ru/kodex.html

 

Russian Network "Consultant Plus" (in Russian) http://www.consultant.ru/ ConsultantPlus is the largest service network operating in the Russian market of information and legal services. The customers have access to databases on Federal, Regional (Subjects of the Federation) and International legislation; a collection of advisory materials on financial issues, court practice etc; thousands of transactional forms, including business forms, real estate forms, trust deeds, wills and many more. Fee based, but some sites are free of charge.

 

Legal System "Юсис/Iusis" (in Russian & in English)
http://www.intralex.ru/
On-line law database Iusis offers access not only to the legislation of the RF but to judiciary and arbitration laws, Moscow statutory acts, and to the comments to the economic laws based on the data from Экономика и жизнь Daily updates via Internet. Fee based.

The Агентство консультаций и деловой информации «Экономика и жизнь» (Agency for consultancy and business information "economics and life), founded in 1991 has a very useful website www.akdi.ru . To be found are the sections: News from the Parliament, with drafts of laws; Commentaries on draft Codes, Actual legal issues, Activities of the Supreme Court and the Court of Arbitrage, Legislation, etc. Besides that, AKDI publishes the following periodicals:

Legal System "Референт/Referent" (in Russian) http://www.referent.ru/
Online legal system of the Russian and Moscow legislations. Free of charge access to the unregistered users from 19 till 23.

Law.ru www.laws.ru situated in Nizhny Novgorod, gives legislation of the RF, Moscow, SPB and Nizhny Novgorod. With full texts of laws. Gives all the Codes. Has some materials in English. Fee based.

Bre.ru http://www.bre.ru/new_laws.php4 Database with new legislation.

Optima Law.optima.ru After registration, free of charge. Not quite up-to-date, but nevertheless useful.

 

 

Database ARBT http://www.arbt.ru/ gives legal and business information, updated several times a week. Full text of current issues of Вестник Права (Law Bulletin).

Legislature http://www.legislature.ru/ , maintained by the Foundation of Parliamentism in Russia.
This site provides information about the legislative authorities of the RF, about the history of Russian Parliamentarism, it has links to the Russian legal databases, to the regional Parliaments of the RF and to the electronic versions of new books on Russian legislation. Gives an overview of draft laws.

 

Websites and databases of some western organisations.

SOSIG Portal http://www.sosig.ac.uk/Law. The British SOSIG Law Gateway provides guidance and access to global legal information resources on the Internet. The service aims to identify and evaluate legal recourse sites offering primary and secondary materials and other items of legal interest.

Project DIAL: Development of the Internet for Asian Law, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) http://www.austlii.edu.au/links/2159.html. DIAL is a free accessible catalogue and search facility of legal materials on the Internet from all countries worldwide. DIAL does not add new legal materials to the Internet it provides better access to what is already there.

GLIN: Guide to Law Online: Russia (in English) http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/russia.html
The Guide to Law Online is an annotated compendium of hypertext links and descriptions of certain server sites which is created by the Library of Congress.

The Slavic Research Centre at the Hokkaido University in Japan gives an up-to-date overview of Internet Resources of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe at: http://src-home.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/index-e.html .The information covers the whole area of legal, political, economic, statistical and other data, including those of the Central Bank of Russia.

Findlaw: http://www.findlaw.com/12international/index.html LawCrawler with Individual Country Pages, International Law sources, Constitutions of the World and Treaties & International Convenants.

LawRunner is an Internet Legal Resource Guide, maintained by Alta Vista. Russia can be found at: http://www.ilrg.com/nations/ru

The databases of Lexis-Nexis don’t need introduction

 

Russian Search engines

An overview of several Russian search engines is given at: http://www.zhurnal.ru/search/engines.shtml

 

To be mentioned are:

www.zodchiy.ru is useful for USSR materials.

The section "Government" in the global Yahoo search engine www.yahoo.com has a section "Law" à "International Law" (= law of other countries).

Altavista www.altavista.com gives the possibility to search in 28 countries in 23 languages, including Russian.

 

 

Russian Electronic News

Daily newspapers

www.izvestia.ru Известия – daily newspaper, with a rubric on legal matters.

www.pravda.ru Правда – formal communist daily newspaper.

www.kp.ru Комсомолская Правда - one of the leading Russian daily newspapers, founded in 1925.

www.mk.ru Московский Комсомолец - favourite daily newspaper for the younger generation, founded in 1919.

www.sr.park.ru Советская Россия – favourite (pro communist) daily newspaper for the elder generation.

www.russ.ru Русский Журнал - a daily publication.

http://vesti.ru Vesti.Ru – a daily internet journal.

http://www.vedomosti.ru/ Ведомости – a „Wallstreet Journal" with business news, Financial Times.

http://www.akm.ru AK&M, with economic/financial news, information of/on State Bodies. An Internet journal, founded in 1990. Also in English.

http://www.redstar.ru/ Красная звезда. Daily electronic version of the military journal of the same name, founded in 1924.

http://www.rg.ru/ Российская газета. (Governmental Journal) Since 1990 in paper edition, since 1993 in electronic format too.

http://www.pnp.ru/pg_win/ Парламентская Газета (Parliamentary Gazette).

http://www.utro.ru/ Утро.ру Newspaper on Politics, economics, sport etc.

http://www.vremyamn.ru/ Времямн (Время и Московкие Новости) a daily publication, issued since May1998.

http://www.smi.ru/ Средства массовой информации в интернете. A daily news bulletin, also in English.

 

Weeklies

www.aif.ru Аргументы и Факты- a popular Russian weekly.

www.mn.ru Московские НовостиMoscow News – a well known serious weekly.

www.sobesednik.ru Собеседник – attached to the illustrated weekly of the same name.

www.fr.ru Финансовая Россия – economic and financial edition.

www.inostranec.ru Иностранец – Russian weekly with news from aboard.

www.itogi.ru Итоги.ru - general non political issues.

 

Monthlies

www.s-info.ru Speed-info – very popular monthly on daily life issues.

www.mistral.ru Сетовой Mistral: Книжний Магазин – with juridical section.

 

Irregular (or not known)

http://www.gazeta.ru/ Газета.RU – politics, business, international news

http://www.gazeta.ru/english.shtml Gazeta.RU, English edition

http://www.nep.ru/ Н.Э.П. Новости Экономики и Политики

http://www.polit.ru/ Полит.ру Russian Political/ Economic periodical. Text also in English. Since Feb. 1998

An overview of all kinds of Russian electronic periodicals is to be found at: http://www.smi.ru/publications/ Средства массовой информации в интернете.

 

All these newspapers/periodicals are free of charge.

Through the commercial firm Eastview it is possible to subscribe to the official publications of the RF, to several dailies, weeklies and monthlies. They offer special facilities, such as back issues and archive and a nice search engine. See for yourself: www.eastview.com

 

Western Electronic Publications

 

General information on Russia and the other former Soviet states can be found at:

http://www.russiatoday.com

http://www.rferl.org Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, gives news from Central Europe and the countries of the fSU and.

http://www.omri.cz Transitions online (TOL), an internet magazine, covering Central and Eastern Europe and the countries of the fSU, issued in Prague. It is not entirely free of charge. You can ask for a two months free trial subscription for full text access.

 

 

 

Summary: Where to find what publication?

The governmental newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta (Russian Gazette), to be found at: (http://www.rg.ru/oficial/).

Current editions of the Official Gazettes:

(The Ведомости Федерального Собрание РФ (Bulletin of the Federal Assembly of the RF) is only available in paper form)

The Парламентская Газета (Parliamentary Gazette) can be found at: http://www.pnp.ru/pg_win/

Codes are to be found at the site: Российская законодательство (Legislation of Russia): http://rus-code.virtualave.net/ and also at www.laws.ru situated in Nizhny Novgorod. With full texts of laws.

http://zakon.kuban.ru/sayt/index.htm человек и закон (Man and Law): Legislation of the RF- up-to-date.

Treaties & International Covenants. Findlaw: http://www.findlaw.com/12international/index.html.

The rulings (посстановления) and decisions (решения) of the Constitutional court are to be found at: http://ks.rfnet.ru/

The official publication of the Supreme Court of the RF: Бюллетень Верховного Суда Р.Ф. (БВС) (Bulletin of the Supreme Court of the RF) can be found on (http://www.supcourt.ru/)

The activities of the Supreme Arbitration Court could be found at: www.arbitr.ru .

The monthly Вестник Высшего Арбитражного Суда РФ (Bulletin of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the RF), the official publication of the Supreme Arbitration Court is available at http://www.vestnik-vas.ru/ .  

Official Statistics can be found at http://www.gks.ru/

Periodicals: Дипломатический Вестник (Diplomatic Bulletin) and Международная жизнь (International Life) are published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mid.ru/ .

Current issues of Вестник Права (Law Bulletin) are to be found at http://www.arbt.ru/ .

 

 

 

Some Criteria for Selection of Databases

 

Reliability of data

 

Security of the data

Access vs. ownership

Searching

 

Evaluation of electronic materials - Trial access

Price negotiations.

License Agreement