The Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR (Russian: Съезд народных депутатов РСФСР) and since 1991 Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation (Russian: Съезд народных депутатов Российской Федерации) was the supreme government institution in the Russian SFSR and in the Russian Federation from 16 May 1990 to 21 September 1993. Elected on 4 March 1990 for a period of five years, it was dissolved (without constitutional authority) by presidential decree during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993 and ended de facto when the Russian White House was attacked on 4 October 1993. The Congress played an important role in some of the most important events in the history of Russia during this period, such as the declaration of independence of Russia from the USSR (June 1990), the rise of Boris Yeltsin, and economic reforms.
Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian SFSR
Congress of People's Deputies of the Russian Federation
Съезд народных депутатов РСФСР
Съезд народных депутатов Российской Федерации
(up to 25.12.1991, named the Russian SFSR)
|Seats||1,068 (at highest point)|
638 (attended X (Emergency) Congress)
|Plurality voting system (direct elections via single-member districts)|
|4 March 1990|
|White House (X Congress)|
Grand Kremlin Palace (I-IX Congresses)
The Congress had the power to pass laws by majority, which must then be signed by the President (with no right to veto until July 1991). The Congress held the ultimate power in the country (that is, power to decide on "any questions within jurisdiction of the Russian Federation") and some of the most-important powers (passage of and amendment of the Constitution, approval of the Prime Minister of Russia and the holders of the highest public offices, selection of the members of the committee of constitutional supervision (judges of Constitutional Court since 1991), declaration of referendums, impeachment of the president, etc.) were exclusive powers of Congress, exercised solely by it.
The Congress officially consisted of 1068 deputies, most of whom were elected in the general election on 4 March 1990, but the actual size varied due to several reelections and structural changes. 900 deputies were elected from the territorial regions, proportional to population; 168 more from the national-territorial regions: 64 from the 16 Autonomous Republics (four from each), 10 from the five autonomous regions (two from each), 10 from the 10 autonomous area (one from each), 84 from krais, oblasts, and the cities of Moscow and Leningrad.
A total of 1,059 deputies were elected by the beginning of the first session of the Congress on 16 May 1990. 1037 deputies were present on 21 September 1993; 938 on 4 October 1993.
Two thirds of the deputies had to be present for the Congress to meet the quorum.
Constitutionally the Congress was required to meet every year, but actually due to the turbulent events during these years it met from two to three times a year. The Congress gathered in the Grand Kremlin Palace (except the Xth congress that gathered in the White House) and held a total of ten sessions. Its last session was held after the presidential dissolution decree, and was interrupted by armed attack on the White House by forces loyal to the president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin.
The Supreme Soviet of RSFSR (later Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation) was a legislative body elected by the Congress to govern between the Congressional sessions. It consisted of 252 deputies, divided into the Council of the Republic (126 deputies) elected proportionately to the population size, and another 126 deputies from the Council of Nationalities, representing the federal subjects of Russia.
The Supreme Soviet was entrusted with the power to pass laws, ratify treaties, assign cabinet members (until 1991) and judges, declare amnesty, and approve presidential decrees. The laws passed by Supreme Soviet were to be signed by the Chairman of the Presidium with no right to veto until July 10, 1991. Afterwards the president gained the right to a delaying veto, which could be bypassed by the Supreme Soviet through a simple majority vote. During its sessions the Supreme Soviet passed a total of 333 federal laws.
The Chairman of the Supreme Soviet was elected by the Congress. He was the Head of State in Russian SFSR until the creation of the post of President of Russia on 10 July 1991. He signed treaties (without the right to veto), nominated candidates for the Head of Government, conducted diplomacy and signed international agreements. From 10 July, the Chairman of the Presidium was demoted to the head of the legislative branch of government, a parliamentary speaker. He was also the fourth in line of succession to the Presidency, after the Vice President and the President of the Council of Ministers.
Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Russian SFSR:
Boris Yeltsin ran for the post of Chairman as a CPSU member twice unsuccessfully, gaining 497 and 503 votes respectively, out of 531 required to be elected. The CPSU then nominated a more moderate candidate, the President of the Council of Ministers, Alexander Vlasov. President of USSR Mikhail Gorbachev publicly spoke out against Yeltsin at the Congress session. After that, Yeltsin ran again on 29 May 1990 and gained 535 votes (50.52%), consequently becoming the leader of Russian SFSR.
On 17 March 1991 a national referendum was held in Russia in which 54% voted for the introduction of the post of President of RSFSR. On 12 June 1991, Boris Yeltsin won the election with 57% and became the first president. After he took office on 10 July, six election rounds in the Congress were unable to elect a new Chairman of the Presidium. On October 29, Ruslan Khasbulatov was elected with 559 votes (52.79%).
During the first session of the Congress, 86% were card-carrying members of the CPSU. This number declined steadily as more people resigned from the party, however new major parties were not quick enough to form, leaving a large percentage of the Congress non-partisan. CPSU was banned by president Yeltsin in November 1991 due to the attempted August Coup. The party collapsed completely during the collapse of Soviet Union, and in Russia it was replaced by CPRF.
Congressional Parties in April 1990
Congressional Parties in July 1991
Congressional Parties in October 1991
Congressional Parties in March 1993
During the first session of the Congress, 24 deputy fractions were registered, numbering 50 to 355 deputies. Dual membership was allowed, so the fraction membership numbered 200% of the entire Congress. Two major blocs quickly formed in opposition to each other – the Communist Bloc, and the Democratic Russia Bloc. The “Democratic Russia” and its allies were initially in the majority, which allowed Yeltsin to be elected as the Chairman of the Presidium. During the fifth session, dual membership in fractions was outlawed, “one deputy – one fraction” law was passed. However, dual membership still remained an issue and in April 1992 there were 30 deputies with membership in several fractions.
By 1993, a total of 14 fractions remained and 200-210 deputies still haven't declared membership in any fractions. The Democratic Russia Bloc collapsed, and resulted in formation of two new blocs – “Reform Coalition” and “Democratic Centre”. A new bloc called “Russian Unity” formed by the conservative communists and their sympathizers and centre-left “Creative Forces” bloc was formed by the moderate left. Together they constituted majority and voiced opposition to Yeltsin and many of his policies. However, as of March 1993, they still lacked supermajority required for impeachment.
Congressional Fractions in April 1991
Congressional Fractions in December 1992
Congressional Fractions in March 1993