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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

How Bill Becomes Law in Russia

A number of key pieces of legislation are currently awaiting the attention of the State Duma or Federation Council, or the signature of the president. Here are the phases a bill passes through before it becomes law in Russia:


Laws may be introduced by the president, the Federation Council or its individual members, deputies of the State Duma, the federal government, and the subjects (regional or local) of the Russian Federation. The Constitutional, Supreme and Higher Arbitration courts of Russia are also empowered by the Russian Constitution to initiate legislation in areas within their competence.


To pass the Duma a bill must survive three readings. During the first reading, fundamental provisions of the draft are addressed. After introductory speeches and debate, the Duma rejects or tentatively approves the bill and sends it to committee for preparation. The reworked draft, incorporating amendments and additions proposed during the first reading, is presented by the committee for a second reading at a plenary session of the Duma. At this stage, each article of the draft is considered in detail and the draft shaped into its final form.


The third reading consists solely of a vote on the draft bill in its entirety. To pass, a federal law requires a majority vote of the members of the State Duma: 226 votes, one more than half of the 450- member body, regardless of the number of legislators present.


A federal law passed by the Duma, the lower house of parliament, is transferred within five days to the Federation Council, the upper house. The Constitution provides that the council has 14 days to examine a federal law passed by the State Duma and to approve, dismiss or withhold it from consideration. A law is approved by the Federation Council if it receives a majority vote in favor (90 of the council's 178 delegates, again with no quorum provision) or if no action is taken within the 14 day period.


For some pieces of legislation, however, silence cannot equal consent: Federal laws involving the federal budget, federal taxes, currency and customs regulations and international treaties, among other issues, must be actively considered by the upper body.


If the Federation Council rejects the Duma bill in all or in part, it is sent to a committee consisting of an equal number of representatives of both houses for reconciliation. The reworked legislation is then sent back to the Duma for a new second reading. Only amendments and additions formulated by the committee may be considered at this reading.


A majority vote in favor by the Duma sends the bill to the president for signature (it need not be reconsidered by the Federation Council). If the committee version fails, the Duma may take up the original version of the bill and with a super-majority of two-thirds adopt it over the Federation Council's objection.


A bill must be presented for signature to the president, who has 14 days to sign and publicly announce the adopted federal law. The law comes into force with its official publication in the Collected Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation and in Rossiiskaya Gazeta.


The president may reject the law and send it back to the State Duma and the Federation Council for further consideration. When vetoing a federal law, the president must offer his own revision of the law in whole or in part or state in his message the reason for his opposition; he cannot simply ignore the bill.


Laws returned by the president are directed by the Council or Duma to the corresponding committee or to a specially created commission. Based on its deliberations, the committee or commission may recommend to the Duma that it approve its original version, that of the president, some hybrid of the two or to withdraw it from consideration.


Following discussion, the version of the law proposed by the president is put to a vote first, and may be passed by a simple majority. If it fails, the version previously adopted by the State Duma is put to a second vote. Adoption of the original (essentially overriding the president's veto) requires a super-majority of two-thirds. If both versions fail, then separate sections, chapters, statutes and their paragraphs and provisions from the revised version proposed by the president may be voted on. Any provision may pass if it attains a two-thirds vote.


If an amended version of the law is passed by the Duma, then the process for submission to the Federation Council is the same as described above. If the original Duma bill is passed by a super-majority, then the council must pass it by the same margin. The bill is then sent to the president for mandatory signing.





Dmitry Razumov is a Moscow-based attorney.