Printer Friendly



I.   Introduction
II.  The structure of social interests in Russia
III. Constitutional foundations
IV.  The matters of harmonization
V.   Conclusion


The Constitution of the Russian Federation, as a particular form of a social contract, has enshrined a number of essential principles of interaction of the State, as the mouthpiece of common interests, with the civil society and citizens who consented to the constitutional way of expression of the will and interests of the population proposed by the political establishment. Under General Principles of the Constitution, the people are the source of authority and the sovereign exercising public power directly, through public authorities and self-governing bodies (Article 3 of the RF Constitution). The formal ideology of the Constitution is based on the declaration of the supreme value of the man, his rights and freedoms, their recognition, respect and protection by the State (Article 2 of the Constitution). The State policy should be aimed at creating conditions that ensure decent living standards and free development of the man (Article 7 of the Constitution).

The democratic principles of organization of public authority assume reflexion of the implementation of social interests of various groups and individuals in the mechanism of the power of the people. One of the purposes of such a variant of democratic processes development is the creation of harmonious relations in the system of a State-organized society--i.e. similar to the public authority mechanism (State and self-governing) --and in the society.


Public authority organized at a state and local level must properly express different sorts of people's interests. Those interests never coincide and always interfere in some way; therefore, there is always some degree of a conflict within the whole process of corresponding interaction. The conflict is predetermined by the conditions of life, labor, possibilities of fulfilling professional and creative potentials by every man, and all individuals consolidating in different social groups in accordance with corresponding criteria (place of residence, nationality, education level, gender, age, etc.). This kind of social differentiation inheres in any society. It is as inevitable as differences between interests of group of people, which tend to consolidate the individuals by virtue of "qualitative measures coincidence of those interests."

Main people's needs and interests are mostly material. However, it does not exclude moral or spiritual motivations in material aspirations of an individual. It is the material interest that becomes a driving force and basis of practical actions of individuals and their social groups. By acquiring common features, individual interests transform into group interests (so-called social interests the essence of which can be directed in different ways positively, negatively, antisocially, contrary to or coincidently with public interests that shall be expressed through the State as a common organization of people.

An essential and structural characteristic of social interests in Russia is utterly tangled; there is no clarity with regard to social affiliation of a considerable part of people to a particular group, stratum (or class in classical representation), since, for example, a smaller part of wealthy proprietors feed off' ample quantity of relatives who do not work at their expense. Social interests within such a group of people may coincide, though a formal status of some of them includes indigent pensioners representing people with level of income lower than an official subsistence minimum.

The structure of social interests in Russia is indefinably differentiated and complex. What is more, the synthetic basic of interests' coordination and harmonization has not yet developed inasmuch as there is no sufficient political basis for such a kind of interests' coordination through the agency of a multiparty system. By now, a multiparty system has been developed quantitatively; qualitatively it remains undeveloped, when the party system could be indicated.

Among other things, there is a need in social and psychological willingness of people to self-government, which could become an instrument of social needs and interests' maintenance depending on a place of residence. Self-government has become a resource for redistribution of regulatory powers in the public authority system primarily in favor of territorial entities of the Russian Federation under Federal Law dated October 6, 2003 No. 131-FZ "On common principles of organization of self-government in the Russian Federation." (2)

Inefficiency of self-government became the reason for the further reduction of municipal public authority, for bringing it down to the "technical adjunct" of the power of a territorial entity of the Russian Federation, which most of municipalities depend on.

Social interests are realized by means of different civil society institutions, an economic system, on the basis of autonomous efforts of an individual or groups formed by individuals. Collective forms of fulfilling social interests take place within the framework of employees, employer associations, political parties and public authority institutions--institutions of public and local governance.


The Constitution of the Russian Federation declared the social character of the State, proclaimed some directions of creating conditions for a wealthy life of the people, provided for political rights and freedoms by which people can achieve the necessary level of involvement in exercising their interests. However, it is the Social State that is responsible for serving its citizens' social interests, and, for that purpose, a special power of managing economic and political processes is assigned to the state; "the essence of such a State amounts to exercising the so-called human rights of second generation, i.e. social rights." (3)

In the process of the state functioning, a multi-party system, suffrage, self-governance and some other institutions are the most vital mechanisms of transmission of interests of individuals and social groups.

Ideally, the State must implement the interests of a man and citizen, social groups in the most complete and qualitative way, as it is a constitutional institution that was founded to express the interests of its citizens; in modern conditions, an idea of humanizing an attitude towards every man regardless of his citizenship and its legal relation to the State is been put into practice. Moreover, the State must consider positive group interests (that are not contrary to public interests of a state-organized society), insomuch as they do not conduce to demolition of harmony and piece underlying a so-called social contract that is enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The distinctive feature of fulfilling the people's interests within the public authority system is a factor of their considerable transformation in the process of rule-making and law administration.

The Constitution of the Russian Federation adopted a lot of principles of public authority organization defined and approved by foreign countries that proclaimed liberal values to be the means and a goal of solving social matters (including matters of regulating socioeconomic relations). It was proved in modern practice of fulfilling these principles that constitutional principles frequently remain to be seen as "wonderfully perfumed wishes", whereas an actual practice of socioeconomic development of the State and society goes its own way and obeys some other laws and rules different from those that are set forth in constitutions.

Problems of political effect on social interests that should be realized through the agency of a State are clearly visible against a background of the socio-economic crises. The changes in the management of state affairs took place in Greece; a long-lived politician, Prime Minister S. Berlusconi retired. Socio-economic reasons underlined political difficulties between leading EU countries--Germany and France, and an EU partner Great Britain--resulted in Brexit.

Serious antagonisms and disharmonious processes arise in the public authorities system of several countries as a result of unequal fulfillment of social interests of different social groups of people while developing and accomplishing political practice.

An assessment of a public authority mechanism of fulfilling social interests has to depend on taking into account a multi-vector impact exerted by social processes on the public authority. The mechanisms of direct formation of an institutional part of the public authority, elections of representative (legislative) bodies of the State and local government are the most significant ways of making an impact on the public authority system and on social interests inclusion into it. The transformation of social interests into the state and local government policy, as well as its implementation by means of elections, must provide for preservation of people's interests and putting them into the form of public authority decisions (laws and other regulatory acts) without any essential departure from understanding values and essence of fulfilling the interests and needs by the people.

The State must have socialized institutions that sufficiently reflect social expectations of a structurally inhomogeneous society to fulfill the social function.

The factor of political ideology essentially refines the practical orientation of state political institutions that submit to the influence of bearers of conceptual aims concerning the role of the State in the life of the society.

Although the social character of the Russian State is constitutionally confirmed, the actual policy of public bodies and officials often comes into conflict with the Social State essence. Deterioration of a state social potential is substantially concerned with an active application of social-state-neglecting ideas to the rule-making, law administration and political practice, which is being made by the bearers of public authority; at the same time, social state ideas "are connected with such a theses as "personal interests over social interests", "person-centric system", "minimal state". All those theses are based on extreme individualism, opposition between the personal and the social, whereas the true solution does not lie in "priorities", but in the combination, aspiration for harmony, and co-existence between the whole and the parts. (4) It is obvious that these kinds of suggestions and officials' behavior do not reflect the ideas of harmonizing people's social interests at all. Therefore, the system of people's representation and the mechanism of forming public authority institutions need a major reconstruction based on the positions of equity.

There has to be the system of relationships within the mechanism of state and local power that could provide, at least, an approximate balancing of different groups of people--the poor and the rich, the big and the small population groups, people of different confessions and ages, etc. (5)


The matters of harmonization and proper fulfillment of people's social interests within the public authority system require up-to-date means and methods of its formation and implementation. However, the political modernization carried out "from the above" does not always have any tangible effect in accomplishing the state social functions; and the mechanism of proportional reflection of social groups' interests within the modernization does not play the last role in this process. Initiatives in the sphere of political system improvement coming from the officials are personified ones and based upon subjective views concerning the importance of different political institutions--a majority electoral system or proportional representation, strengthening or weakening electoral thresholds, competitive elections or appointment of the highest official in territorial entities of the Russian Federation. (6)

The effectiveness of political system modernization in the context of fulfilling the people's interests largely depends on different innovations that are intended to improve the political system. However, one of the efficacy criteria is the aim of the innovation from the point of view of a public authority--self-preservation or self-restriction? The understanding of the aim must accompany the understanding of actions being taken by politicians in the modern life.

If political innovations of the last years were analyzed through the prism of establishing the motives of the reforms, one could make certain conclusions displaying the extent of the concern for genuine representation of people's social interests within the public authorities system coming from the initiators of the reforms. Thus, does the statement that "the implemented modernization of the political system made it more effective" (7) by the Russian President correspond to the facts?

Holding the status of a deputy (member) of a representative body (of federal, regional or municipal level) as a precondition for those applying for an office in the Federation Council was the reason for strengthening representative principles. The example of providing St. Petersburg Governor with a representative deputy status as a condition for her appointment as a member and a Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation shows whether the relevant expectations proved to be correct. (8) In view of respecting the interests of all people, professional level and human rights' potential of the police officials, who are ex-militia officials, cannot be reliably proved. Considering the announced police staff reduction, D. A. Medvedev, then the President of Russia, sounded unconvincing when saying that, "We have finally initiated a law machinery reform that managed to open the flood-gates for filling this sphere with a great number of professionals protecting our citizens' human rights and legal interests." (9)

The changes within the judiciary system based on the grounds of the Criminal Code amendments are untimely to be estimated in an optimistic way, because only legal practice of more than one year is able to demonstrate any positive effect of decriminalization and the criminological value of some new categories of criminal responsibilities. Moreover, criminal liability modification procedures that have been implemented are not going to have a direct influence upon judicial power improvement that is called for providing all people's interests and applying a law honestly (the legal criteria only cannot be always used, it is the good conscience that is demanded while having a large number of powers in applying different kinds of sanctions). Will the judicial power be able to reasonably apply sanctions that are prioritized by the State? In this part of the political system there is a strong need for the development of public control over the judicial power, changes in the mechanism of subjecting judges to responsibility and anti-corruption measures.

There is at least uncertainty about the consequences of establishing the right of a party to propose candidates for the office of the highest official in a territorial entity of the Russian Federation to the President. In the conditions of one party monopoly this measure seems to be senseless. As for the candidates proposed by the political leaders of the State elections to take the offices of the highest officials approved by the President, it should be noted that this idea initiated by the political leaders of the State became a kind of a response to the aggravation of the conflict of interests caused by the hacked representatives of the ruling class. (10)

In this kind of a situation the social and political interests of average citizens do not get considerable benefits. Moreover, in conditions of a low level of political culture of a larger part of electorate such guided direct democracy exists only as a tool applied "to cool down", but not to fulfill people's social interests through elected Governors, etc.


Relationships in the system of legislature and the executive power are not harmonized, because the control of the State Duma exercised over the Government does not result in any consequences for the Government.

The people can follow the representative body activity via the Internet, but up to 2016. The State Duma Chamber used to be half empty, but voting results demonstrated a high rate of participation of deputies. Why is it so necessary to have 450 deputies, if it was possible, under the proportional system, to delegate to the Duma in accordance with the voting proportion, from 1 to 5-6 representatives of winning parties? It is necessary to make laws, isn't it? But how many laws were prepared by sportsmen, artists, etc? Law-making can be carried out by professionals without deputy seats. Deputies represent the interests of voters and social groups, aren't they? According to their income statements they represent the interests of the rich who possess major financial and material recourses: in 2007 the Forbes insisted that summary fortune of 14 richest Russian citizens amounted to 26 per cent of the Russia gross domestic product. (11) According to the same magazine, in September, 2007 the summary fortune of 100 Russian richest citizens increased by 36 per cent during the year. Moreover, the number of dollar multi-millionaires in Russia almost doubled, from 32 to 62 people, during the world economic crisis in 2009. (12) Subsequently, their number has increased (96 in 2016). (13)

And how about the representation of the interests of the poor, the so-called "middle class people"? Are the rich ones capable to understand and honestly represent their interests? It is not just a political question -it is rather a question of socio-economic relationships that do not have any equitable basis in Russia.

Many aspects of expressing people's social interests within the public authorities system are remarkable for their inadequacy; the legal regulation in this field is spontaneous, mostly focused on self-preservation of public authorities not connected with the electorate. If the political class ignores the misbalance within the socio-economic sphere and does not develop the mechanisms of forming and exercising the public authority that meets the interests of all classes of the society, the further increase in conflict capacity of the Russian society is inevitable.


Fursov, A. (2012). EGE and others. Zavtra. No. 52. December. (In Russ.).

Martyshin, O. V. (2011). The idea of the social state and its opponents. The State and Law. No. 12. P. 9, 12-13. (In Russ.).

Russia is considered to be a European leader in multi-millionaires number. Available at: March 11, 2010. (In Russ.).

The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly December 22, 2011. Available at: el=30:1,39:65. (In Russ.).

Wolf, M. (2007). Why plutocracy endangers emerging market economies. The Financial Times. November.

Viktor V. Polyanskiy (a), (1)

(a) Samara National Research University, Samara, Russia

(1) Author

Doctor of science (Law), professor, director of constitutional and administrative law chair in Samara State University, Russia

Academica Pavlova Str., 1, Samara, Russia, 443011

(2) Political power began to realize the imperfection of a legal ground of national resources allocation in favor of the Federation, the regions and the municipalities -this topic was discussed during the State Council meeting on December 26, 2011. In particular, the President of the Russian Federation suggested giving more independence in dealings with federal and regional grants to regions and municipalities, consolidating federal means within the limits of a so-called unified grant (instead of 21 grants taking place today). Besides, the matter of investment widening for the regional and municipal budgets including their own recourses was also discussed. Available at: http:/

(3) Martyshin O. V. The idea of a Social State and its opponents // The State and Law. 2011. No. 12. P. 9.

(4) Martyshin O. V. Op. cit. P. 12-13.

(5) In the conditions of strong social differentiation, characteristics of people's interests' protection by the state on the basis of wealth are the most significant ones. The glaring discord of social interests in Russia becomes apparent when the so-called "decile coefficient" reflecting income differentiation is concerned. The correlation of the mean income of 10 per cent of the most prosperous citizens and the mean income of 10 per cent of the least prosperous citizens is over 16 under the official statistics, and even higher unofficially. According to economists, the prerequisites to social tentions and conflicts arise when the decile coefficient is about 10.

(6) The political value seems to be vague, and it highly depends on the political ways of its implementation. As the practice confirms, Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein, an American left-radical sociologist, was right saying that "values become very flexible, when it comes to power and wealth" (Quot. by Fursov A. EGE and others // Zavtra. No. 52. December).

(7) Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly dated December 22. Available at: transcripts/14088#sel=30:1,39:65

(8) In popular belief, this procedure turned out to be a farce.

(9) The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly from December 22, 2011. Available at:,39:65

(10) As is well known, the special procedure of granting powers to the highest officials of the territorial entities of the Russian Federation was implemented under the pretense of fighting against terrorism and separatism, applying lustration procedures against unscrupulous regional politicians. It is of interest to consider if these or some other negative circumstances lost their relevance. But it seems they didn't. There is still a threat of interference in domestic affairs on behalf of foreign nationals (protest actions in Moscow and in other cities during 2011 election campaigns did not occur without "a certain degree of concern" for direct democracy development in Russia expressed by foreign politicians). Tatarstan entered into a special agreement in 2007 (The agreement on the delimitation of powers between the Russian Federation, public authorities and public authorities of the Republic of Tatarstan, as approved by the Federal Law of July 24, 2007 No. 199-FZ). There is also a sovereignty formula in the Tatarstan Constitution, yet the conditions for terrorism, extremism, etc. have not been eliminated, so far.

(11) Wolf M. Why plutocracy endangers emerging market economies // The Financial Times. 2007. November 7.

(12) See: Russia is considered to be a European leader in multi-millionaires number. Available at: March 11, 2010.

(13) See: Arguments and Facts dated November 22, 2016.
COPYRIGHT 2017 Kutafin Moscow State Law University
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2017 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Polyanskiy, Viktor V.
Publication:Kutafin University Law Review
Date:Apr 1, 2017

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters