For other uses, see Duma (disambiguation).

A duma (дума) is a Russian assembly with advisory or legislative functions. The term comes from the Russian verb думать (dumat’) meaning "to think" or "to consider". The first formally constituted duma was the State Duma introduced into the Russian Empire by Tsar Nicholas II in 1906. It was dissolved in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. Since 1993, the State Duma is the lower legislative house of the Russian Federation.

Boyar duma

The term Boyar Duma is used by historians to denote the class of boyars and junior boyars (okol'nichii) collectively within the Russian Tsardom. In 1721, Peter the Great transferred its functions to the Governing Senate. In contemporary sources it is always called simply "the boyars" or "the duma", but never the "boyar duma". Originally there were ten to twelve boyars and five or six okol'nichii. By 1613 it had increased to twenty boyars and eight okol'nichii. Lesser nobles, "duma gentlemen" (dumnye dvoriane) and secretaries, were added to the duma and the number of okol'nichii rose in the latter half of the 17th century. In 1676 the number of boyars was increased to 50 and was by then constituted only a third of the duma.[1][2]

Municipal dumas

Building of the Moscow City Duma

Under the reign of Alexander II, several reforms were enacted during the 1860s and 1870s. These included the creation of local political bodies known as zemstvoes.[3] All owners of houses, tax-paying merchants and workmen are enrolled on lists in a descending order according to their assessed wealth. The total valuation is then divided into three equal parts, representing three groups of electors very unequal in number, each of which elects an equal number of delegates to the municipal duma. The executive is in the hands of an elective mayor and an uprava, which consists of several members elected by the duma. Under Alexander III, however, by laws promulgated in 1892 and 1894, the municipal dumas were subordinated to the governors in the same way as the zemstvos. In 1894 municipal institutions, with still more restricted powers, were granted to several towns in Siberia, and in 1895 to some in Caucasia.

State dumas

Russian Empire

Under the pressure of the Russian Revolution of 1905, on 6 August 1905, Sergei Witte issued a manifesto about the convocation of the Duma, initially thought to be an advisory organ. In the subsequent October Manifesto, Nicholas II pledged to introduce basic civil liberties, provide for broad participation in the State Duma, and endow the Duma with legislative and oversight powers.

However, Nicholas II was determined to retain his autocratic power. Just before the creation of the Duma in May 1906, the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws. It stated in part that the tsar's ministers could not be appointed by, and were not responsible to, the Duma, thus denying responsible government at the executive level. Furthermore, the tsar had the power to dismiss the Duma and announce new elections whenever he wished. At this first meeting of the Duma members proposed that political prisoners should be released, trade unions given rights and land reform be introduced. Nicholas II rejected these suggestions and dissolved the assembly in July, 1906.[4]

The imperial State Duma was elected four times: in 1906, twice in 1907, and in 1912.

Russian Federation

Main article: State Duma

The State Duma (Russian: Государственная дума, Gosudarstvennaya Duma, common abbreviation: Госдума, Gosduma) in Russia is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia (parliament), the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. Under Russia's 1993 constitution, there are 450 deputies of the State Duma (Article 95), each elected to a term of four years (Article 96); this was changed to a five-year term in late 2008. In previous elections of 1993, 1995, 1999 and 2003 one half of the deputies were elected by a system of proportional representation and one half were elected by plurality in single member districts. However, the 2007 Duma elections were carried out in a new format: all 450 deputies were elected by a system of proportional representation. Russian citizens at least 21 years old are eligible to run for the Duma (Article 97).


  1. Paul Bushkovitch, Peter the Great (Rowman and Littlefield, 2001).
  2. Gustave Alef, "Reflections on the Boyar Duma in the Reign of Ivan III", The Slavonic and East European Review, 45, 104 (1967): 76–123.
  3. Stearns, Peter (2007). World Civilizations the Global Experience. New York: Pearson Education. p. 620. ISBN 0132206994.
  4. "The Duma". Retrieved 8 November 2016.

Coordinates: 55°45′29″N 37°36′55″E / 55.75806°N 37.61528°E / 55.75806; 37.61528

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