The Federation Council is the upper chamber of the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, the Russian parliament. Similar to the U.S. Senate, each of the 85 Federal Subjects of Russia (22 Republics, 46 Oblasts, 9 Krais, 3 Federal Cities, 4 Autonomous Okrugs, and 1 Autonomous Oblast) sends 2 members to the Council, for a total of 170 Federation Council Members. One senator is elected in each Federal Subject by the local legislature, and the other is nominated by the local governor and confirmed by the legislature. Prior to 2000, all governors and heads of provincial legislatures also got seats in the Federation Council, a practice that was discontinued by 2002.
The Chairman of the Federation Council is the third most important position after the President and the Prime Minister. In the case of incapacity of both, the Chairman of the Federation Council becomes Acting President of Russia. Valentina Matviyenko is the current Chairman of the Federation Council.
The Council works with the State Duma in voting on draft laws. Federal laws concerning budgets, customs regulations, and the ratification of international treaties require the approval of the Council by a vote of more than half of its 170 senators after they have been approved by the Duma. When considering federal constitutional laws, three-fourths of the Council’s votes are required for passage.
If the Council vetoes a law passed by the State Duma, the two chambers form a Conciliation Committee in order to develop a compromise document, which would again go under vote by both houses. The Federation Council's veto can be overcome by a two-thirds majority in the Duma.
The Federation Council has the following special powers:
- Approval of changes in borders between the subjects of the Russian Federation;
- Approval of a decree of the President on the introduction of martial law;
- Approval of a decree of the President on the introduction of a state of emergency;
- Deciding on the possibility of using the armed forces abroad;
- Declaring Presidential elections;
- Impeachment of the President;
- Approving the President's nominations for Constitutional Court Judges, Supreme Court Judges, and the Supreme Arbitration Court Judges;
- Approving the President's nomination for the Prosecutor General;
- Appointment of Deputy Chairman and half of the Auditors of the Accounting Chamber.