Administrative structure in the Russian part of the Barents region

The territory of the Russian Federation is divided into regional administrative units of different political and juridical status. There are basically five types of administrative units, namely Autonomous Republics, Autonomous Oblasts, Oblasts, Krays (industrial region), and Autonomous Okrugs. The Oblasts and Krays, and sometimes Okrugs, are often simply called   "Regions".

There are altogether 87 administrative areas in the Russian Federation. The Federation comprises 21 Autonomous Republics, 1 Autonomous Oblast, 49 Oblasts, 6 Krays, and 10 Autonomous Okrugs. These areas are further divided into administrative districts, that is, 1,852 rayons, 1,059 towns, 2,066 urban settlements and 23,976 villages.

The Republics have their own Constitution, Government and Parliament which is the Legislative Assembly. The Oblasts have a Regional Government, led by the Governor, and a separate Regional Duma or Parliament. Even though, in principle, the Republics seem to have much larger political and economic rights than the Oblasts, there is not always very much difference in practice

The Autonomous Okrugs enjoy some extra privileges, granted both in the Constitution of the Russian Federation and by special Decrees given by the Russian President. For instance, the rights of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug are quite similar to those of the Arkhangelsk Oblast, to whose area it actually belongs.


Arkhangelsk Oblast

The executive authority of the Arkhangelsk Oblast belongs to the Oblast Administration (Regional Government), which has a large body of civil servants. The first Chairman of the Administration was appointed in 1991 by the President of the Russian Federation. As within all regional administrations in Russia, there is a Representative of the President of the Russian Federation who mainly supervises the execution of the Presidential Decrees.

The Regional Duma (Parliament) and the so-called Small Council exercise the legislative power of the Oblast. The Regional Duma is elected by public vote for a five-year term, and its members elect the Small Council amongst themselves. The items on the agenda for the Parliament are prepared by the Small Council, which meets more often than the Regional one. The Districts have their own local councils.

In the Regional Parliament (Regional Council of Deputies), the political parties or their fractions are not officially represented. However, some politically biased groups can be identified. It is worth noticing that this distribution varies noticeably from time to time, as the representatives in the Parliament are quite flexible in their political opinions. At the present, there are 41 representatives in the Regional Council of Deputies. There are nine permanent commissions in the Regional Council of Deputies.

The Arkhangelsk Oblast is divided into 20 administrative districts, as shown in this linked Map. In addition, five towns - namely Arkhangelsk, Severodvindsk, Novodvinsk, Kotlas, and Koryazhma - have the administrative status of "town district", and are directly subordinate to the Oblast. The districts are further divided into 39 urban settlements and 237 country villages. The two largest towns, Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk, are divided into four and two rayons respectively, with each area having its own elected organs and administration.

The Nenets Autonomous Okrug belongs formally to Arkhangelsk Oblast, but is, at the same time, one of the 87 administrative units of the Russian Federation. Also, the islands of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land are part of the Arkhangelsk Oblast.

Murmansk Oblast

The executive power of the Murmansk Oblast belongs to the Administration of the Oblast (Regional Government) which also takes care of the operative management. The local Representative of the President of the Russian Federation supervises the execution of the Presidential Decrees.

The Administration of the Murmansk Oblast consists of:

Head of Administration (Governor of the Region)
First Deputy Governor
Nine other Deputy Governors
Several departments
Various committees in the main fields of administration, accountable to the Head of Administration

The Head of Administration (Governor) is the supreme functionary in the Region. There is a Regional Collegium for the co-ordination of the work of the governmental committees and departments. It is a consultative organ, consisting of the chairmen of the committees and directors of the biggest enterprises in the Oblast.

Another consultative and co-ordinating organ under the Head of Administration is the Economic Council, consisting of leading experts and directors of the largest banks and investment funds in the Oblast.

In order to improve the co-operation between the Oblast and the Federal Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economics have representatives in Murmansk. The Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps e.g. to speed up the handling of visas. The Representative of the Ministry of Economics looks after the co-ordination of regional and federal programmes, as well as large investment projects.

The legislative organ, the Regional Duma (Parliament), is elected every five years. The Duma approves the regional budget and controls its use. It also makes decisions concerning social and economic activities. The Duma has 24 deputees. Although political parties and fractions are not officially represented in the Duma, the following parties are represented at the present: Yabloko, Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Union of Industry and Enterprises, and Our Home is Russia.

Republic of Karelia

In October 1993, the President of the Russian Federation passed a Decree on the reform of local and regional administration in Russia. After the referendum in December 1993, the Republic of Karelia received a new Constitution, which defines the new roles and structures of the Government and Parliament. Members to the new Parliament of Karelia were elected in April 1994 for the first four-year term.

The Republic of Karelia is governed on three levels: the executive authority, the legislative assembly, and by the district and local administrators. The executive power in the Republic of Karelia is held by the Government (Council of Ministers), with the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, 12 ministries and several committees. The Chairman of the Government, who is also called "Prime Minister", has an influential role. He forms the Government, decides its composition and agenda. In addition, he has the right to make initiatives to the Parliament and to participate in its work. The Chairman manages the politics of market reforms and the Republican property. His duties also include the carrying out of legislative measures on social protection of the population, and guaranteeing of state and public security. He also represents the Republic of Karelia in the Federal Council of Russia, and takes care of the Republic’s relations with foreign governments. The Chairman of the Government appoints his own Chief of Administration

The work of the Karelian Government is supported by several committees and other bodies. These bodies include the State Pension Service, the Representation of the Russian Government, and the Representation of the Chairman of the Government in the Parliament.

According to the new Constitution, the legislative power in the Republic of Karelia belongs to the Karelian Parliament (the Legislative Assembly) elected by the citizens of the Republic. The Parliament consists of two chambers, the House of the Republic and the House of Representatives. An important aim of the governmental reform has been to professionalise the work of the Parliament. The Parliament (61 members) is about half the size of the earlier Supreme Soviet. The deputies elected to the House of the Republic (25 members) work on a permanent basis, receive a salary for their work, and are not allowed to have any other paid permanent work during their service. The House of Representatives (36 members) holds its session once or twice a year.

The Karelian Republic is divided into 18 electoral districts, which correspond to the administrative districts and towns of republican status, as shown in this linked Map. Each district elects one deputy to the House of the Republic, and additional deputies for every 30,000 electors. In addition, the Prionezhkiy District has one extra deputy elected by the Vepsian National Region (Volost). Two deputies are elected to the House of Representatives from each of the 18 electoral districts, regardless of their size or national composition.

The two houses of the Parliament work separately but also hold joint sessions. The House of Representatives has the power to amend the Constitution of the Republic of Karelia. It also approves the budget of the Republic, tax laws, and referendums. It can also pass motions of no-confidence on the members of the Government, and also dismiss the Head of the Government. The House of the Republic supervises the budget, and ratifies international agreements. It has the power to implement a state of emergency.

Republic of Komi

The Autonomous Region of Komi was founded in 1921, and in 1936 it was changed into the Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic of Komi. In 1992, the Republic of Komi was founded, and in 1994 the new constitution of the Republic was adopted. In June 1994, the first and current Head of the Government, Yuri Spiridonov, took office.

The highest executive power in the Republic of Komi is exercised by the Head of the Government, "the President", and the Government over which he presides. The term of office of the Head of Government is four years.

The legislative power in the Republic of Komi belongs to the State Council, to which 50 deputes are elected every four years. The State Council passes laws concerning the Republic’s interior affairs, and it also has the possibility to make law initiatives in the Duma of the Russian Federation.

The judicial power in the Republic of Komi is exercised by a court system defined in the Constitution. The highest judicial organ in the Republic is the Constitutional Court.

The Republic of Komi is divided into 20 districts, as shown in this linked map.

The Nenets Autonomous Okrug

The Nenets autonomous okrug is a subject of Russian Federation possessing equal rights under the Russian Constitution of 1993. It was founded in 1929. The okrug is situated in the far North-East of the European part of Russia. The territory is 176,7 square km., which covers more than 300 km from north to south and about 1000 km from west to east, from the cape Kanin Nos to the Ural mountains.

The state power of the Nenets autonomous okrug is represented by the local self-governing – administration (executive power), Chamber of Deputies (legislature) and 20 municipal formations. The number of the population in the okrug, according to the census of 2002, is 41,700 people. People of 75 nationalities live in the okrug, including: 7,2 thousand of Nenets (15,6%), Komi – 9,5 %, Russians – more than 70%. Number of other nationalities is not essential.

The administrative centre is Naryan-Mar (about 18 thousand people). In translation “Naryan-Mar” means “red” (beautiful) town. It was founded in 1935 and it is the only town in the okrug. There is a settlement of geologists – Iskatelei with the population of about 9 thousand people.

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