The following information provides background on Russia's government:
Russia's political system was established by its 1993 constitution.
The Russian president wields considerable executive power. There is no vice president.
The bicameral legislature consists of the lower house (State Duma) and the upper house (the Federation Council).
The president nominates the highest state officials, including the prime minister, who must be approved by the Duma.
The president can pass decrees without consent from the Duma.
The president is head of the armed forces and of the Security Council.
Duma elections were held most recently on Dec. 7, 2003.
Presidential elections were held most recently on March 14, 2004.
Vladimir Putin was re-elected to a second four-year term with 71 percent of the vote in March 2004.
The Russian constitution does not allow presidents to serve more than two consecutive terms.
Next elections for the Duma occur in December 2007 and for president in March 2008.
Source: U.S. State Department