Council of Ministers of Russia

The Russian Council of Ministers is an executive governmental council that brings together the principal officers of the Executive Branch of the Russian government. This include the chairman of the government and ministers of federal government departments.

Imperial Russia

Committee of Ministers

The Ministries and the Committee of Ministers (Комитет Министров) were created in the early 19th century as part of the Government reform of Alexander I. The Committee was an advisory board for the Emperor but could only consider matters referred to it by the monarch or when details for implementation of policy were brought to it by ministers. However, the Committee had little collective power and did not make decisions, just recommendations. When the monarch presided personally over Committee meetings it was referred to as a council as the monarch had decision/policy making authority that the committee did not possess.

Chairmen of the committee of Ministers (de facto), 1802 1810

Chairmen of the committee of Ministers, 1810 1905

Council of Ministers

After Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto of 1905 granting civil liberties and a national legislature (Duma and a reformed State Council), the Committee was replaced with a Council of Ministers. Unlike the Committee of Ministers, this council was presided over by a Chairman (Совет министров) besides the Emperor, and functioned as a policy making cabinet with its Chairman acting as Prime Minister (head) of the government. As a result, from 1905-1917 the Council of Ministers collectively decided the government's policy, tactical direction, and served as a buffer between the Emperor and the national legislature. Half of the members were appointed by the Emperor, as before, and the other half by the clergy and various public institutions as provincial assemblies of the gentry, Zemstvos, industrialists' associations, and learned bodies.[1]

Soviet Russia

The Sovnarkom of the RSFSR was the basis for all Soviet governments, including both Union and republican levels, until 1946, when all of the Sovnarkoms were renamed "Councils of Ministers". With the leading role of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) fixed by law in the 1936 Soviet Constitution, the governments were little more than the executive bodies of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The CPSU's leading role was also stated in the 1977 Soviet Constitution, and was not abolished until 1991.

Russian Federation

After the fall of the Soviet Union the Russian Council of Ministers became the chief body of administration for the President of the Russian Federation. At times it consisted of as many as 60 ministries and state committees and up to 12 Vice-Premiers. After the 2004 reform, Government duties were split between 17 Ministries, 7 Federal Services and over 30 governmental Agencies.

The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Russian Federation and confirmed by the State Duma. The Chairman is second in line to succeed to the Presidency of Russia if the current President dies, is incapacitated or resigns.

See also


  1. Harold Whitmore Williams (1915) Russia of the Russians, p. 92
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