State of emergency in Russia (Russian: чрезвычайное положение в Российской Федерации) is a special legal regime that is introduced in the country or its individual regions to protect against an internal threat. The state of emergency involves restricting the rights and freedoms of citizens and legal entities, as well as imposing additional duties on them. In this case, the state of emergency, which is introduced in the case of violent unrest or clash, coup attempt, natural disaster or man-made disaster, should be distinguished from the martial law regime that is introduced in the event of external aggression.

The procedure for introducing and lifting a state of emergency in Russia is regulated by the federal constitutional law "On the State of Emergency" (2001), which replaced the 1991 law of the same name. Earlier, the State Duma made several attempts to prepare and adopt a law, especially during the state of emergency on parts of the territory of North Ossetia and Ingushetia (1992-1995), but none of these attempts was successful.


In Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a state of emergency was not introduced at the federal level.

On November 9, 1991, President Boris Yeltsin introduced a state of emergency in Chechen-Ingushetia Republic, where Dzhokhar Dudayev signed a decree on decleration of independence of the Republic of Chechnya.[1] However, the Supreme Council of the RSFSR refused to approve this decree, and already on November 11, the state of emergency was terminated.[2]

On November 2, 1992, Yeltsin introduced a state of emergency in Ingushetia and North Ossetia, where an ethnic conflict erupted. As a year earlier in Chechnya, a special management procedure was introduced here and an interim administration was appointed. The head of the interim administration was Federal Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Khizh, his deputy the head of the State Committee for Emergency Situations Sergey Shoigu.[3]

On March 31, 1993, the state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia was canceled. Instead, the president introduced a state of emergency on parts of the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia and the Nazran district of Ingushetia and in the surrounding areas,[4] which was then extended several times. However, in early 1995, the Federation Council refused to authorize the next extension of this regime, and it was canceled until February 15, 1995.[5]

From October 3 to 4, 1993, Yeltsin introduced a state of emergency in Moscow in order to suppress protesters against the dispersal of the Supreme Soviet.

Introduction and сancellation

The state of emergency in Russia is introduced by the president under the circumstances stipulated by the law “On the state of emergency”, with immediate notification of this to the Federation Council and the State Duma.

The law "On the state of emergency" introduces the concept of goals and circumstances of the state of emergency. A state of emergency is introduced to “eliminate the circumstances that served as the basis for the introduction of a state of emergency, to ensure the protection of the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, and to protect the constitutional order of the Russian Federation”.[6]

A state of emergency is introduced only if there are circumstances that constitute “an immediate threat to the life and security of citizens or the constitutional system of the Russian Federation”. Such grounds are divided into two categories:

attempts to violently change the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, armed rebellion, regional conflicts, etc. natural and man-made emergencies, natural disasters, etc.[7] A state of emergency is introduced by presidential decree throughout Russia for a period of not more than 30 days or in certain areas for a period of not more than 60 days with the right to extend them by a new presidential decree. When the objectives of the state of emergency are achieved, it is canceled in whole or in part.

The presidential decree on the introduction of a state of emergency does not require prior coordination with the leadership of the constituent entities of the Federation, but it must be approved by the Federation Council “as soon as possible”, within 72 hours from the date of promulgation of the decree. The decree, not approved by the Federation Council for these 3 days, automatically loses force. A presidential decree to extend a state of emergency requires the same approval by the Federation Council.

Moreover, the decree is subject not only to immediate official publication, but also to immediate publication by radio and television.

The state of emergency is ensured mainly by the internal affairs bodies and the penal system, federal security agencies, the national guard and rescuers. In exceptional cases, the military may be used to restrict entry, to protect critical infrastructure, to separate the warring parties, to suppress the activities of illegal armed groups and to eliminate emergency situations and save people. At the same time, all troops in the emergency zone are transferred to operational subordination to a single federal agency.

Permissible limitations

A presidential decree on the imposition of a state of emergency should contain “an exhaustive list of temporary restrictions on the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens and stateless persons, the rights of organizations and public associations”.

The State of Emergency Act provides for three groups of time limits that the president may impose.[8]

Order management

The State of Emergency Act provides for three options for managing emergency situations. The first, basic, involves the creation of a commandant’s office.[9] The second and third are called “special management” and are introduced in particularly difficult conditions.[10]

Conventional management and commandant's office

When a state of emergency is introduced, elections and referenda are not held, and the powers of elected authorities, local authorities and officials in the area of emergency are automatically extended. If the regime is introduced throughout the country, the Federation Council and the State Duma continue to work throughout the entire period of its operation.

The President appoints a commandant in the state of emergency zone who manages law enforcement officers and the military, who provides the state of emergency, determines the procedure for applying the restrictions, or invites the president to introduce additional ones, and also participates in the work of any state or local authorities on his territory. To coordinate the actions of various forces and means, the commandant can create a joint operational headquarters.

The law provides for the possibility of introducing “special management” of the territory in which the state of emergency is declared, after a corresponding warning addressed by the president to the population and officials of state authorities of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation and local authorities operating in such territory.

Temporary special management

The temporary special territorial authority takes over the powers of regional and local authorities, in whole or in part. The head of this body is appointed by the president, and the commandant becomes his first deputy.

Federal office

The federal governing body replaces the temporary special body if it has failed in its tasks. The president also appoints its head, and the commandant also becomes his first deputy. At the same time, the federal body fully assumes the powers of regional and local authorities.

See also