AP Comparative Government
In 1993, amidst the crisis of reconstruction of the Russian Federation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a constitution was drawn up for the new state. After decades of communism, Russia was heading toward more democratic processes, or at least hoped to be. Like the constitution of the United States – a wholly democratic state, the constitution of the Russian Federation dictates that there be a three-branch government consisting of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. The president of Russia possesses powers not unlike the President of the United States; the legislature is bicameral and can override the president; judicial review has the power to declare laws unconstitutional; and there exists free and fair elections. The rights of the Russian people are guaranteed by the constitution – they possess most of the rights that American citizens possess as per the U.S. Constitution: freedom of speech, religion, press, political association, assembly, legal counsel, trial by jury, property, as well rights against unlawful detention, and others. The Constitution of the Russian Federation seemingly provides a means for a very successful democracy in Russia, but under President Vladimir Putin (2000-2008; 2012-), Russia has become an illiberal state that restricts political opposition and freedom of speech, monopolizes the media, and violates human rights. Some of these rights seem to be less important than others in the eye of the Russian public. The constitution does provide insight as to the power distribution in the Russian government, yet, like in China, power on paper is different than power in practice.
As stated earlier, the legislature of the Russian Federation is bicameral, consisting of an upper house, the Federation Council, and a lower house, the State Duma. The State Duma, like the United States House of Representatives, is elected directly on a proportional...