2.1 General description, history and key data of the political system

Russian political system is changing one. After collapse of USSR declaration of political freedom, there appeared great number of political initiatives and alliances of liberal, communistic, centrist, nationalistic and religious trends. At the beginning obviously dominated new Communist party (CPRF) acquiring majority vote at the SD and at many regional bodies. The dominance of CPRF in Parliament embarrassed the economic reforms, too urgent for a Russian country, where GDP within 10 years fell down dramatically and per capita incomes were about ten times less than in Western Europe.

After collapse of USSR in Russia appeared regions, trying to get special status if not to runaway the Russia (Chechnya, Tatarstan). As a palliative, federal authority concluded treaties with such regions, granting specific forms of regional public bodies, official status of national language within region etc. In some regions the role of regional political and financial elites was significant. First noticeable step to change political system (to consolidate "powerful vertical") provided the creation in 2000 of seven federal okrugs (macro-regions), headed by RF President's representatives. President's representatives are enabled to inspect the compliance of regional legislation to federal one, thus such an administrative structure is aimed to hold in check some political initiatives of regional parliaments.

Second important step, initiated and implemented in 2001 by RF President's political adherents was the establishment of party, capable to support President's reforms. As such a party United Russia was established, and then it acquired centrist status, the majority vote at SD and at many regional assemblies. Thus the number of CPRF representatives in SD diminished and at the last elections (2003) and small liberal parties failed to pass legally established bar (3%). The main centers of political impact in a Russia are SD, heads of regions, then - regional representatives, much less - local (municipal) representatives. The RF President is not party member; regional leaders (presidents of republics, governors) mostly are party members. Parties may address to voters through mass media, at meetings and in legislative bodies, if they have there party representatives.