In 1991, after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' dissolution, Russia began transitioning to self rule as the Russian Federation. The new government adopted its constitution on Dec. 12, 1993. However, the exact distribution of authority among local leaders, regional leaders and the central government continues to evolve.
The Russian Federation encompasses executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The president, or Russian chief of state, represents the executive branch. Voters elect the president to a four-year term. The position is one of significant power, with the legislative branch subordinate to it. The president serves as commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and head of the Russian Security Council. No vice president exists. However, if the president is unable to perform his duties, the premier takes his place.
Russia's legislative branch is its Federal Assembly, which consists of a 178-seat Federation Council and 450-seat State Duma representing the 21 Russian Republics and 66 independent regions and territories.
The nation's judicial system arbitrates any disputes that arise between the legislative and executive branches as well as those between regional and local governments and Moscow. However, the court is not allowed to examine cases based on its own initiative.
A number of political parties are active in Russia.