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The Russian Constitution of 1993

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With the collapse of the Soviet Union it became clear that Russia would need a new constitution free from the layers of the past. Work on a new constitution began at the beginning of the 1990s amidst broad public discussion and resulted in several different drafts being prepared. The main ones were the draft constitution drawn up by the Russian Supreme Sovietís Constitutional Commission and the draft prepared by the Constitutional Conference convoked by decision of the President. The Constitutional Conferenceís draft reflected many of the provisions in the Constitutional Commissionís draft and was adopted as the basis for further work to draw up a final draft constitution. The Russian regions, deputies, specialists and working groups were all involved in this process. The result was a draft constitution submitted by the President to the nation in a referendum. The referendum was held on the basis of the Provision for a Referendum on the Draft Constitution of the Russian Federation.

A total of 58,187,755 voters, or 54.8 percent of the registered voters, took part in the referendum on the new draft constitution on December 12, 1993. Of this total, 32,937,30 voters, or 58.4 percent of those who took part in the referendum, voted in favour of the draft constitution and it was adopted. It officially came into force on December 25, 1993, at the moment of its official publication.

The 1993 constitution considerably changed the way the state power system is organised and made a lot of progress toward improving Russiaís federal structure. For the first time in Russiaís history, the constitutionís provisions have direct application. This means that any person can defend their rights based on the constitutionís provisions, and when examining cases and settling disputes, the courts and other state bodies must base themselves above all on the constitutionís provisions. The constitution represents the highest law in the country and so all other laws must conform to its provisions. This is achieved in particular through a system of judicial constitutional control.

Unlike in the past, the 1993 constitution does not proclaim a predetermined unified economic system based on state ownership, but gives equal protection to all forms of ownership and guarantees the freedom and development of civil society.

The Constitution forms the countryís legal foundation, proclaims the President of the Russian Federation the head of state and lays upon him the responsibility for defending the Constitution, human rights and civil liberties, safeguarding Russiaís sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and ensuring the coordinated functioning and cooperation of the state bodies of power.

The full text of the Constitution of the Russian Federation is available here.

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The Constitutional Process

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Russian Federation

The "Catching up" Cycles
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Russia's Privatization
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Coping with Transition
The Yeltsin Era
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Russian Federalism
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"Deprivatizing" the State
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