The Federation Council is the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly - the parliament of the Russian Federation, first elected 12 December 1993 simultaneously with the adoption of the new Constitution.
In accordance with the Federal Law "On the Formation of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation" which came into force 13 December 1995, the current Federation Council was formed on 23 January 1996 ex officio from the chairman of the parliament and the chief executive of each of the 89 regions of Russia. The term of the chamber as a whole is not limited; rather, the term of each member depends on his or her individual term in local government. It has become commonplace to
refer to the Federation Council as the "Senate", and to call its members "senators".
The first organ called a "Federation Council" was formed 17 July 1990 within the office of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and included the chairmen of the Soviets of the autonomous republics, oblasts, and okrugs (31 persons) and the chairmen of certain oblast, krai, and city soviets (31 persons). From 1991 on, this body included the chairmen of the Soviets of all 88 (later 89) subjects of the Russian Federation.
The Federation Council as the upper house of parliament was created by Presidential decree 1400 of 21 September 1993, on the dissolution of the Congress of People's Deputies and Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation. Statute of federal organs of power for the transition period approved by Presidential decree stipulated that the Federation Council consisted of the chairmen of the legislative (representative) organs of power and the chief executives of each subject of the federation until the end of the terms of the current convocation of Soviets (March 1995). The Federation Council should have taken up its parliamentary functions after the election of the State Duma. Shortly afterward, Yeltsin reexamined his decision. On 9 October 1993 he issued a decree on elections to new representative organs in the regions, and 11 October he set direct elections to the Federation Council from 89 dual-mandate districts.
The Constitution adopted at the 12 December 1993 referendum set out that the Federation Council "consisted of two representatives from each subject of the Russian Federation: one each from the representative and executive organs of state power".
As an exception set out in the transitional theses of the Constitution, the first convocation of the Federation Council was elected directly by the population on 12 December 1993 for a two year period, and met from 11 January 1994 to 15 January 1996. The Chairman of the Federation Council from 13 January 1994 to 24 January 1996 was Vladimir Filippovich SHUMEIKO.
The concrete mechanism for forming the Federation Council from representatives of regional organs of power had to be set by federal law. The first draft of the law (July 1995), on direct alternative elections from candidates nominated by the regional organs of power, was vetoed by the President. The Duma did not accept the Presidential draft, which provided for each organ of power to select a representative from its own membership. On 5 December 1995, just a week before the expiration of the term of the first convocation of the parliament, the Duma adopted and the President signed a rather laconic law that came into force 13 December 1995. Under this law, which remains in force, the Federation Council has two representatives from each subject of the Russian Federation: the head of the legislative (representative) branch and head of the executive branch, ex officio. Bicameral local legislatures select their representative by a joint decision of both chambers.
Duma's complaint to the Constitutional Court over this law was refused for the reasons of procedure.
The current Federation Council was formed 23 January 1996 for an unlimited term, and began work on the very same day. Since that date, Yegor Semenovich STROEV has served as Chairman of the Federation Council.
The composition of the Federation Council changes gradually, as leaders in subjects of the federation turn over after elections. According to federal laws the term should not exceed 5 years. At this point, no federal laws regulate the number of terms which a single individual may serve.
As the Federation Council sits on a permanent basis, the convocations are no longer numbered.
The main powers of the Federation Council are listed in Article 102 of the Constitution. The Federation Council adopts resolutions by a simple majority of the total number of deputies (with the exception of cases where the Constitution stipulates a higher quorum).
The Federation Council may approve or reject federal laws, federal constitutional laws, and laws on constitutional amendments adopted by the Duma. Laws approved by the Federation Council are turned over to the President for signature. A federal law may be approved by a simple majority of votes or passively by allowing 14 days to pass without taking it under examination (although certain classes of laws are subject to mandatory examination by the Federation Council). A 2/3 majority (134 votes) is required to override a presidential veto; a 3/4 majority (134 votes) is required to approve federal constitutional laws and constitutional amendments.
removal of the President of the Russian Federation from his post (2/3 majority required)
appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Supreme Court of Arbitration, of the Russian Federation; confirmation of members of the Presidium of the Supreme Court;
appointment and removal of the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation, and appointment of deputy Procurators-General;
appointment of two representatives of the Federation Council to the National Banking Council;
appointment and removal of the deputy chairman of the Accounts Chamber and half of its auditors;
appointment of five of the 15 members of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation;
appointment of representatives of the Federation Council to the Presidential Council on Questions of State Service
appointment of one of the 15 members of the Collegium of the Federal Commission on the Bonds Market.
approval of changes of borders between subjects of the federation;
approval of a presidential decree on the introduction of martial law;
approval of a presidential decree on the declaration of a state of emergency;
resolution of the question of the possibility of the use of the armed forces outside the territory of the Russian Federation;