4. Main Governmental Organizations of the Russian Federation (in 1998)
The Russian Republic consists of 89 administrative units. These comprise 49 oblasts, six krays, 21 autonomous republics, one autonomous oblast, 10 autonomous okrugs and two federal cities. In the Russian constitution, power is distributed among the central government and individual regional governments. The regional governments have their own powers, which cannot be unilaterally altered by the central government. This system preserves the unique character of each of the nation's regions. The main administrative units-oblasts, krays and so forth-are state organs, while national authority is invested in the federation. Unlike the United States, which is a federation of states of equal status, the Russian Federation is a heterogeneous confederation of bodies of different type and status. The main divisions of Russia were established in 1868, with the krai established as frontier areas with their own subdivisions based on ethnicity. In one case, a Jewish autonomous oblast was separated from Khabarovsk Krai and is now sometimes called a krai itself. According to Article 5 of the Russian Constitution, each of the oblasts, krais, autonomous republics, autonomous oblast and federal cities is on a level footing with the others. In the federal treaty of March 1992, powers were assigned between the Federation and autonomous republics, between the Federation and krai and between the Federation and oblasts. However, some republics have asserted that their own laws have precedence over those of the Federation, further complicating the relationship between the center and the regional governments.