Duma, and only after the Duma comes to a decision does the process move on to a hearing in the Federation Council (Article 106).
The authority of the Russian Government in this area is spelled out in Article 21 of the Federal constitutional law “On the Government of the Russian Federation.”182 According to this Article, the Russian Government shall, “within the bounds of its authority,” enter into international treaties on behalf of the Russian Federation, ensure their implementation, and monitor the compliance by other parties with commitments made in treaties signed with Russia. Additionally, the Russian Government regulates and oversees foreign economic activities and cooperation in science, technology, and culture. In other words, this law gives the Russian Government significant authority to enter into and implement international treaties, as well as regulate relevant foreign economic activities, including cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The procedures for entering into, implementing, and denouncing international treaties, as well as specifics of the distribution of authority among federal entities, are stipulated in a federal law “On International Treaties [Signed by] the Russian Federation.” The law was passed in the mid-1990s, when the State Duma had a leftist majority that stood in opposition to the Boris N. Yeltsin administration. This is why the document is clearly a product of compromises between the Kremlin and the lower house of the Russian Parliament. The compromises are especially evident in the way in which authority has been distributed between the executive and legislative branches of government.
During the debates that preceded this law, the State Duma was trying to prevent the executive branch from keeping any international agreements outside the legislators’ field of view. Therefore, Article 1 of the document contains an exhaustive list of international agreements subject to this law. The list includes virtually all international, intergovernmental, and interagency treaties regardless of their nature and nomenclature (treaty, agreement, convention, protocol, exchanges of letters or notes, or any other kind and variety of international treaties).
Article 3 divides all international treaties into three broad categories. International treaties are concluded with foreign states and international organizations on behalf of the Russian Federation. Intergovernmental treaties are concluded on behalf of the Russian Government. Interagency treaties are concluded on behalf of [individual] agencies in the federal executive branch.
Both chambers of the Federal Assembly have the right to give federal executive agencies recommendations with respect to entry into international treaties (Article 8). At the request of the two chambers, the Russian Government provides information regarding international treaties in preparation for signature (Article 7). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) informs the Federation Council and the State Duma about international treaties concluded on behalf of the Russian Federation and the Russian Government, as well as about termination or suspension of such treaties. Interestingly, the MFA does not have to brief the Parliament on any interagency treaties.
The law grants the MFA an important role in concluding international treaties.