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The Constitution sets clear terms of reference for the branches of power and endows the president with enormous prerogatives. Russias president is the countrys head of state, elected for four years by direct, universal, and secret ballot and is limited to two terms of service. Any Russian citizen aged 35 and over may run for president. The elections are considered valid if more than half of the registered voters take part. The candidate who receives more than half of the votes is considered the president-elect. If no single candidate receives a simple majority, then a runoff election is held between the two candidates who received the most votes.  


The president is vested with broad prerogatives and determines the main directions of domestic and foreign policy. The president does not belong to any of the three main branches of power: his principal role is to ensure a coordinated and smooth functioning of the executive, judicial and legislative arms of government.

With the consent of the State Duma, he appoints the head of the government (prime minister) and, on request by the prime minister, appoints and dismisses federal ministers. The president has the right to chair the government meetings, make the decision to dismiss the government, and to cancel government resolutions and directives if they contradict the Constitution, federal laws or his decrees. In the cases stipulated by the Constitution, the president may suspend the acts of the executive bodies in the constituent units of the Russian Federation until the matter is resolved in a court of law. He is also authorized to issue mandatory administrative directives.

In relation to the legislative arm of government, the president has the right to call the election to the State Duma and to dissolve the State Duma in the instances and according to the procedures stipulated by the Constitution. For example, when the president nominates a new prime minister, the Duma must give its approval of the candidate. If the candidate is rejected three times by the Duma deputies, the president may appoint the prime minister himself, dissolve the lower house of parliament, and call new elections. The president also has the right to veto a law, which then will have to be reconsidered by the houses of the Federal Assembly. The president can initiate bills for the consideration of the State Duma, and may submit proposals for constitutional amendments.

In relation to the judiciary, the president nominates candidates to serve as judges in the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Higher Arbitration Court to be approved by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. He appoints judges of other federal courts in accordance with the procedure established by federal law. The president also appoints the prosecutor general upon the consent of the Federation Council.

As the head of state, the president plays a key role in the countrys external relations. He defines the main directions of foreign policy, holds negotiations, signs international treaties, and receives the credentials and letters of recall of accredited representatives of foreign states and international organizations.

According to the Russian constitution, the president is the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces. He appoints and dismisses top military personnel and approves the military doctrine of the Russian Federation. In the case of aggression or a direct threat of aggression against Russia, the president has the right to declare an emergency situation with the immediate notification of the houses of the Federal Assembly. He can personally assume direct command of the army during war or emergency situations.

As the head of state, the president enjoys immunity and is only liable to one form of legal action against him: impeachment. He may be impeached on the grounds of grave crime, such as high treason. An accusation has to be made by the State Duma on the initiative of no less than one-third of its members. The Supreme and Constitutional Courts must then support the accusation. The president is impeached when no less than a two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament votes to support the charges brought against him. The Constitution stipulates other grounds for the early termination of the presidents office: in the event of his voluntary resignation and when he is unable to carry out his duties for health reasons. 

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