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Russian Federation

I. Constitutional Provisions

No provision concerning the continuity of legislative activities could be found in Russian Federation law. The Russian Constitution states that both chambers of the Russian Federal Assembly (legislature) are to hold their meetings in Moscow. Regarding the adoption of laws, the Constitution states that laws are to be adopted by a simple majority of the members elected to the chamber. Federal constitutional laws, which are laws addressing major issues of the nation’s constitutional system, must be passed by at least two-thirds of the elected members.[1] The same provision is almost verbatim repeated in the Internal Rules of the Russian State Duma.[2] A quorum is only required for passing laws; no requirement on the minimum number of members present is established for any other parliamentary activities. 

While a simple majority vote in the upper chamber, the Federation Council, is required for giving consent to the laws adopted by the State Duma, the Constitution provides that legislation is automatically considered adopted if it is not voted on by the upper chamber within fourteen days.[3]

There is neither a legislative provision nor an established practice allowing the legislature to conduct its formal sessions outside of the chambers, and remote voting is not allowed. Federal legislation and the Duma’s internal rules require each legislator “to vote in person.”[4] A legislator who is absent for a qualified reason may submit a written statement expressing the legislator’s opinion concerning the issue under discussion. This statement is attached to the Duma’s records but cannot be counted as a vote for or against the measure.

When a nationwide emergency situation is declared by the President of Russia, the Federal Assembly must continue its work during the entire emergency period.[5] The President’s emergency situation declaration must be approved by the Federation Council within 72 hours.

Because elections cannot be conducted during an emergency situation, the power of the elected institutions whose terms of duty expired during the declared emergency are extended for the duration of the emergency.[6]

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II. Arrangements During COVID-19 Pandemic

Several members of the Duma were recently quarantined because of their contacts with persons who tested positive for COVID-19. On March 15, 2020, the Duma changed its schedule, shortening the time for plenary sessions. Under a normal schedule, the Duma meets for two weeks, then has one week of committee work, and the last week of the month is reserved for work in the district. Currently and through August, the Duma will meet every other week for plenary meetings, which will be followed by another week of conferences and committee hearings. Trips to districts are cancelled and meetings with voters are being conducted remotely using online communication tools.[7] 

Since March 22, all nonessential staff of the legislature, including the staff of the party factions, have been working from home. [8]

The State Duma has restricted the number of visitors. All public tours and delegation visits have been stopped, and the number of accredited journalists who may attend legislative events has been reduced twice. Previously scheduled meetings with members of the Cabinet of Ministers and experts have also been cancelled. Mandatory checks of body temperature have been introduced for all persons entering the State Duma building.[9] 

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Prepared by Peter Roudik
Director of Legal Research
March 2020


[1] Constitution of the Russian Federation art. 105, https://perma.cc/W6GR-8N5C.  

[2] Rules and Procedures of the State Duma of the RF Federal Assembly art. 92, https://perma.cc/7G6J-AX72 (in Russian).

[3] Constitution art. 105.

[4] Rules and Procedures of the State Duma art. 85.

[5] Federal Constitutional Law on Emergency Situations of May 30, 2001, art. 8, https://perma.cc/DSU9-KV6H (in Russian).

[6] Id. art. 14.

[7] Igor Iakunin, Don’t Leave the Country without Bills: Members of the Duma Won’t be Quarantined, KP.ru (Mar. 15, 2020), https://perma.cc/58EC-2MUZ (in Russian).

[8] Quarantined Legislators Will Keep Working Remotely but Voting, MSKAgency.ru (Mar. 17, 2020), https://perma.cc/2ZUX-S4AF (in Russian).

[9] Irina Poluboiarinova, Quarantine in Duma, OTR.ru (Mar. 17, 2020), https://perma.cc/U8G7-UPK6 (in Russian).

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020