The referendum on December 12th 1993 approved the new Constitution of the Russian Federation, a fundamental law of the state, one of the most important democractic institutions.
The first constitution of the country was adopted in 1918, a year after the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Soviet regime. That year, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) was formed. In accordance with the principle "All Power to the Soviets!", the controlling functions were concentrated in the supreme body of Soviet power.
Under the Constitution of the RSFSR, the supreme body of power in the country was the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and in the periods between its session - the All-Russia Central Executive Committee (VTsIK - Russian abbreviation). The Congress of the Soviets could annul any legal act of any body of power which contradicted the Constitution or the legal acts of the Congress of the Soviets.
The second Constitution was adopted in 1924 in connection with the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Under this Constitution, the supreme body of state power was the Congress of the Soviets of the USSR, and in the periods between its session - the Central Executive Committee (TsIK) of the USSR, and in periods between its sessions - the Plenum of the TsIK of the USSR. At the demand of the Central Executive Committee, conclusions were given on the legality of the acts of the bodies of power of the Union Republics, and judicial controversies between the Union Republics were settled.
The Constitution of the USSR, adopted in 1936 (called the Stalin Constitution - after the name of the head of the state - Joseph Stalin), finally established the priority of the federal legislation over republican.
Adopted in 1977, the new Constitution of the USSR (the Brezhnev Constitution - after the name of the country's leader at that time) preserved the procedure of exercising constitutional control and concretely pointed out this function in the list of the powers of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the new historical conditions, Russia, as also other Union Republics, proclaimed its independence (The Declaration on the State Sovereignty of the RSFSR of June 12 , 1990). This Declaration fixed the new name - the Russian Federation. In 1993 first President of Russia Boris Yeltsin convened the Constitutional Conference to work out a new Constitution. The referendum on the new Constitution was held on December 12, 1993, simultaneously with the election of the legislative body of Russia - the Federal Assembly. The Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted in the difficult transitory period for the country and became one of the most important factors of the stabilisation of new state and economic structures. The Constitution of 1993 substantially changed the structure of the supreme bodies of state power and took a serious step towards perfecting the federal system in Russia. This Constitution does not provide, as it was earlier, for a single economic system based on state ownership; it equally protects all forms of ownership, thus ensuring the freedom of the development of a civil society.
On December 12, 2001, speaking in the State Kremlin Palace on the occasion of the Russian Constitution Day, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said, in particular, that in 1993, when this Constitution was adopted, the Russian people thus voted "for a state based on the rule of law, for democracy and for freedom," and also "against the collapse of the Federation, against weak statehood and a non-effective economy."
The US Government Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (also known as the Helsinki Commission) prepared a plan to partition Russia into several independent smaller states