-->"Whatever party we try to build, we always get [[DirtyCommies CPSU]]!"
-->--[[{{Malaproper}} Victor Chernomyrdin]], Russian ex-Prime Minister famous for his malapropisms

-->''Posle perestroiki, budet perestrelka, (a potom pereklichka).''
-->''After perestroika, there will be a shoot-out, (and then a roll call[[note]][[DoNotExplainTheJoke Of the survivors, that is]][[/note]]).''
-->--a common quip during the late '80s and early '90s

Life in Russia was [[CrapsackWorld never nice]], and political life is not an exception. The Russian Federation started in what appeared to be a peaceful, bloodless resolution of the ColdWar (only three men perished during the 1991 coup attempt), but two years later, the Russian Constitution of 1993 was written in blood after President Yeltsin ordered tanks to shoot live shells at the unruly parliament (housed in the White House -- not that one -- for bonus irony). Since then, Russia managed to turn even democracy into a dystopia. Granted, Russia didn't arrive at "dystopia" without a considerable amount of [[NiceJobBreakingItHero help from the United States and Europe]], multiple international crises that Russia bore the brunt of but had no control over[[note]]Thailand devaluing the baht during the Asian financial crisis could not have happened at a worse possible time -- for Russia.[[/note]], complications from the laws of the International Monetary Fund, and then the infamous "less shock, more therapy" period.[[note]]The line in question was uttered by Strobe Talbott, who worked at the State Department under Clinton and was the face of US-Russian relations. Both he and Russia scholars regard that moment as a deserved "never live it down."[[/note]] Historically, Russia has always had an uneasy relationship with democracy, creating a SelfFulfillingProphecy that to be Russian is to suffer and that Russia is doomed to authoritarian rule. As always, [[TakeAThirdOption it's actually much more complicated]], but that's what doctoral programmes are for.

The Russian Federation is a [[ShapedLikeItself federation]] of 83 [[OtherRussianTownsAndCities subjects]] (89 before the mergers of the late 2000s), after the events of 2014 two more subjects added, and both are disputed territories de-facto administered by Russia. It is a presidential democratic republic -- even though the suspicious distribution of power between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin in 2008-2012 made some pundits to believe it's actually semi-presidential, if you look at the Constitution, you'll see it's extremely lopsided in favor of the President.

Russian federalism can be divided into three periods: the first being the Yeltsin era, which was largely defined by chaos, economic destabilization, a prolonged crisis regarding Russian identity (that's still ongoing, albeit at a slightly lower volume), the problem of turning former domestic policy into foreign[[note]]What used to be internal trade within the Soviet Union was now international, thanks to the fifteen [=SSRs=] becoming independent states.[[/note]], securing the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons, and, just for kicks, a civil war. Yeltsin enjoyed a great amount of support from the United States, and [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment while he was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Soviet Union, he was perhaps not well-suited to the presidency]]. VladimirPutin took office in 1999, during one of the most tumultuous periods of Russian history, and while he's the subject of quite a bit of criticism and often portrayed as an autocrat, this view only solidified after the fact. During the first era of his presidency (1999-2008), Putin was credited with centralizing power, which sounds like what he's being accused of doing now but for the fact that in 1999, Russia's federal government was so weak that various regions simply ignored federal law, knowing that Moscow was too weak to enforce it. The third era, or "now," is an open question, and whether or not Russia will move back toward open democracy is unclear.


'''Federal Government'''

The central government that resides in Moscow. It consists of the executive branch (the Cabinet of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister) and the legislative branch, a bicameral parliament called the Federal Assembly, consisting of the State Duma (the lower house with 450 Deputies, and what most people think of when they hear of the Russian parliament) and the Council of the Federation (the upper house, of 166 Senators). The President belongs to neither the executive nor legislative branch, but rather is a separate entity. There's [[MyFriendsAndZoidberg also the judicial branch]], consisting of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court in St. Petersburg (the latter's function is interpreting the Constitution and judging its ambiguous points).

The president is the one who holds most reins of power, unless VladimirPutin is the Prime Minister. [[ContinuityNod The third time]]. His first premiership was in 1999-2000, and second in 2008-2012.

'''Regional Governments'''

All subjects have their own governments, led by a ''mayor'' in the federal city of Moscow, ''heads of administration'' in ethnic republics and ''governors'' everywhere else. Yes, the head of St. Petersburg, also a federal city, is a governor, not a mayor. All heads of subjects are elected locally, but only from those approved by the regional parliaments. And because these parliaments are all controlled by the ruling party and, as a consequence, by the government and the Presidential Administration, this system doesn't differ much from the previous one, when all heads of subjects were appointed from Moscow. The parliaments of federal subjects are unicameral.

'''Electoral System'''

Russia uses '''Proportional Representation''' ('''PR''') for its parliaments on all levels. Blocs are forbidden, though, and coalitions do not exist.
* Five, Six and Seven percent thresholds: a party must get at least 7% votes to receive seats in the State Duma. If the party gets 6%, it receives a consolation prize of two seats, or one seat if 5%.
* Three percent threshold: a party that gets 3-4% votes does not receive any seats in the parliament but receives any money spent on political ads back.

'''Political Parties'''

* [[TheEmpire United Russia]]: The juggernaut conservative political party that backs the President and Prime Minister. Can be best described as a party of [[CorruptPolitician state bureaucrats]] and anyone who wants to get close to them. It's a political machine that hogs votes using aggressive propaganda, underhanded manipulations and administrative resources (that's ordering people how to vote, for those not in the know). The Duma of 2007 was utterly dominated by this party; the Duma of 2011 appears to be less United Russia-dominated, and even that year's electoral results (45%) resulted in riots and rallies protesting against United Russia's underhanded tactics.
** For those in the west, it's best to think of United Russia as a political apparatus that happened to become a long-term political party rather than a party of ideas. United Russia was born from the need to have a designated group backing Putin during his first term. The fact that United Russia happened to cohere, remain a viable force, and develop a platform was something of a happy accident.
* [[GoodOldWays Communist Party of Russian Federation]]: Supposedly communist, but in fact social-conservative that is, ''both'' social-democratic and socially conservative. Unlike the communists of USSR, these guys support the church, do not mind businessmen, believe in traditional social mores, do not want to restore USSR, and there are [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits even some monarchists among them]]! Led by the uncharismatic, [[{{Gonk}} unattractive]] and unambitious Gennady Zyuganov, an eternal presidential candidate. Often accused of closely toeing TheGovernment's line and being opposition InNameOnly.
* [[NonIndicativeName Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia]]: Neither liberal nor democratic, it's, in fact, a pseudo-nationalist (mainly because Zhirinovsky is all bark and no bite) party centered around its leader, the famous political clown Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another eternal presidential candidate. This party owes its strange name to the fact it was created in the late 1980s, when "liberal" and "democratic" were buzzwords of instant success. The target of the same accusations as CPRF. The United States considered Zhirinovsky a legitimate threat to Yeltsin in the mid-90s. He's also done some xenophobic raps.
* [[ForGreatJustice A Just Russia]]: A social-democratic party, somewhat of a more liberal and modern rival to CPRF, but less popular. A relatively recent union of three rather different more-or-less leftist parties, some of them decidedly odd (like an ex-Senate speaker Sergey Mironov's Party of Life that tried to tout a ''really weird'' pseudo-environmentalist slogans and selected a ''[[InherentlyFunnyWord vykhukhol]]'', also known as a Russian Desman, a bizarre semi-aquatic insect-eater animal, as their mascot), which nevertheless managed to carve themselves a solid social-democratic reputation and win the hearts of some leftist voters who aren't sufficiently radical for the Left Front and don't want to be associated with CPRF's geezers. ''[[RunningGag Also]]'' accused of being the Kremlin's creation. Members of this party are called ''Esers'', same as members of the historical Socialist Revoltionary Party; this party officially isn't any kind of successor to that one, but it seems that currently it's becoming more left-wing and may some day live up to the name and become a SpiritualSuccessor to the historical Esers.

'''Dwarf and Outlawed Parties'''

Parties too unpopular to win any seats in the State Duma are usually called "dwarf parties". Some dwarf parties are outlawed because of their extremist views.

* Right Cause: An old-school liberal party. In their goals, mind you, as their methods, which included slander, boycotting and an undeniably classist approach, were surprisingly Bolshevik. Liberalism is somewhat TheScrappy of ideologies in Russia because of the liberals' infamous reforms of 1990s which spawned a lot of {{Corrupt Corporate Executive}}s and a hell of starving poor people, which is why they consistently fail to win enough votes to get into parliament. Their [[WeAreStrugglingTogether constant internal squabbles]] don't help either. As is the liberals' reputation as unabashed Western lickspitties, which alienates ''a lot'' of the [[PatrioticFervor more patriotic voters]]. It is sometimes said that if Russian Liberals existed in the US, they'd be tarred and feathered ''in seconds'' for their disloyalty to the nation.
* Apple Party (Yabloko): Another liberal party, offering more socialized liberalism akin to what the Democratic party of America believes in. Popular among the educated, cosmopolitan middle class of the big cities, but without support from other voters, the party's numbers are too low for it to maintain real influence. It constantly teeters on the representation barrier, sometimes making it, and sometimes not.
* [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment Patriots of Russia]]: A social-democratic party that popped out of nowhere before the 2011 elections, got almost no votes, and then sunk back into oblivion. [[OverlyLongGag Accused of being the Kremlin's political tool]] by many analysts.
* [[EnemyMine Another Russia]]: An outlawed party formed from a strange alliance of old-school liberals and CommieNazis ([[SincerityMode no, really]]), united by a common desire to overthrow the dictatorship of United Russia.
* [[DirtyCommies Left Front]]: Looks like the Bolsheviks are [[NotQuiteDead back]]! The Left Front contained and still contains ''actual'' communists who wanted to restore Soviet Russia. Now an outlawed party. Its most important policies are restoring the Soviet system by restoring the Soviets (workers' councils) themselves in the state as they were before the Revolution, co-working with the workers' movements and participating in street protests.

Recently, the Federal Assembly passed legislation that creates easier procedures for party formation. Prepare for an abundance of odd, misguided, and incorrectly-named dwarf parties!

There is also a weakly organized, but fairly numerous nationalist movement which is currently gaining momentum. Because of rise of Islamist extremism, ethnic criminal gangs(mostly consisted by immigrants from Caucasus and Central Asia), huge funding of Chechnya, with periphery areas being dirt-poor, racial riots with violence from both sides, popularity of nationalism is slowly growing. Nationalists occupy the entire spectrum of right-wing political views ranging from national democracy (which can be roughly compared to the Tea Party Movement in the US) to straightforward nazism, but they all share the slogan "Russia for the Russians" and oppose the government or even the state itself for being "anti-Russian". To visualize this opposition, they use the black-yellow-white flag (called ''imperka'') which dates back to Tsarist Russia. Their organizations are difficult to name since they are constantly being banned for racist, antisemitic and extremist hate-speech, and are as constantly recreated by the same people under different names. Most notable of them, and formerly most close to a political party, is the Movement Against [[FalseReassurance Illegal]] Immigration (DPNI) which was banned in 2011 but somehow exists until today. They have an annual venue called [[MillionMookMarch Russian March]] which takes place on November 4th and attracts several thousand people in Moscow and several hundred (at best) in other cities.

'''VladimirPutin'''

VladimirPutin is the house that always wins. No matter who wins and who loses in this casino, this guy will stay on top.

'''Alexey Navalny'''

Relatively new, but rather popular opposition leader and Yale-graduated lawyer, who started as a member of unpopular liberal party, later, he became a very popular Livejournal blogger, who used open sources of information to uncover corruption in Russian establishment(and there are TONS of it), and publically expressed his sympathies for Russian nationalism. During ongoing protests and slow decline of Putin's popularity, he is gradually becoming much more popular, and is one of the few nationalists who are recognised by Russian society. Many his opponents consider him to be a puppet of the USA, while other hink of him a FalseFlagOperation staged by Putin. Recently, he, like what he did to Kremlin bosses, was accused of corruption, put on a trial, and sentenced for five years(whether he was guilty or framed is a GIANT FlameBait, so let's leave this topic untouched), but then he was temporarily freed, permitted to take part as candidate in the election of Moscow mayor, came second, and was pardoned, which led many people to think that he is a Kremlin's puppet and ''agent provocateur.''