Approximately 99 people have been head of the Russian government since its establishment in 1726. The chairman of government was a member of the Supreme Privy Council, which was created on (19) February 1726 by Empress Catherine, and from (20) September 1802 ministerial duties were allocated by the Committee of Ministers, which was established on in accordance with the proclamation of Emperor Alexander II. Beginning with Count Aleksandr Romanovich Vorontsov, the eldest of the officers was de facto chairman of the committee. Eight years after the inauguration of the manifest, the first de jure office holder was Count Nikolay Rumyantsev. The Council of Ministers was unofficially formed in October 1857, as a result of Emperor Alexander II's reforms; its first session began on (31) December 1857. Before the actual formation of that body on (24) November 1861, the Emperor himself was in charge. The Council of Ministers consisted of chairmen of the State Council and the Committee of Ministers, as well as high-ranking officers appointed by the Emperor. The first session ended on (23) December 1882, after the number of files to the Council greatly decreased.
The Committee of Ministers functioned simultaneously with the second session of the Council of Ministers for six more months; Count Sergei Witte participated on both entities until the abolition of the committee on April (5 May) 1906. Following that event, the duties of the committee were left to the Council of Ministers, until the formation of the Small Council in 1909, which also included deputy ministers. By the order of Emperor Nicholas II, the second session of the Council of Ministers began on October (1 November) 1905, following the formation of the State Duma. Shortly after the February Revolution and the inception of the Russian Provisional Government on (15) March 1917, Georgy Lvov from the Constitutional Democratic Party and Alexander Kerensky from the Socialist Revolutionary Party became joint Minister-Chairmen. The provisional Russian Republic was eventually replaced by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and the governmental body by the Council of People's Commissars, which was chaired from 1917–24 by Vladimir Lenin. That body was renamed Council of Ministers following a decree of the Supreme Council on 23 March 1946.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin, as the President of the Russian Federation, was automatically appointed as the Head of Government of the Russian Federation in the first two years of his mandate. The latter body took the previous name "Council of Ministers", the chairman of which became Viktor Chernomyrdin, replacing acting chairman Yegor Gaidar. According to the new constitution ratified on 25 December 1993, those two entities were separated. Since then, the head of that office takes the formal title "Chairmen of the Government" or colloquially "Prime Minister" (the only actual prime minister was Valentin Pavlov). Chernomyrdin resumed chairing the government, followed up by non-partisans and acting office holders. On 8 May 2008, Vladimir Putin took the office for a second term, now as a member of United Russia. Current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin took the office on 16 January 2020.
The youngest head of government by his accession to office was Count Karl-Fridrikh Golshteyn-Gottorpsky, at age 26, and the oldest Count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy, at age 81.
Russian Empire (1721–1917)
Early collegial institutions without a single leader
Since the 18th century, a modern system of public administration was going to be created in Russia, including the formation of bodies such as the Supreme Privy Council and the Committee of Ministers whose powers are similar to the powers of the modern Russian Government. In the period from 1726 to 1905 there was no official title for the leader of the government. The chief ministers (principal ministres) of certain Emperor of All Russia nonetheless led the government de facto, but de jure the head of government was a monarch.
Committee of Ministers (1802–1905)
The Committee of Ministers was established on 20 September 1802 in the course of Alexander I's ministerial reform. All the ministers were independent from each other and were responsible for the activities of their departments individually. The Committee was not responsible either for the activities of individual ministries, or for the coherence of their policies. During the first years of the existence of the Committee, its meetings were chaired by the Emperor, and in his absence - by the ministers alternately, starting with the senior in rank, each for 4 sessions. In 1810, the chairmanship was given to the chancellor and chairman of the State Council Count N.P. Rumyantsev.
Prime Minister of the Russian Empire (1905–1917)
The modern government type in Russia came after the establishment of the Council of Ministers on 1 November 1905, created for the "management and union action principal chiefs of departments on subjects like law and senior public administration", and modelled on the relevant institutions within the constitutional states, when all the ministries and directorates have been declared part of the unified state management. The first Prime Minister was Count Sergei Witte, who was appointed on 6 November 1905.
Provisional Government/Russian Republic (1917)
After the alleged abdication of Nicholas II from the throne in favor of his brother Michael, Michael also abdicated, before the convening of the Constituent Assembly. On 14 September 1917, the Russian Republic was proclaimed. At this period, a provisional government was formed and the Prime Minister was the head of state.
Russian State (1918–1920)
The heads of government of the Russian State during the Civil War were de facto Prime Ministers in exile.
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1917–1991)
The Russian SFSR maintained the title of Prime Minister as head of government.
Russian Federation (1991–present)
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first head of government of post-Soviet Russia was Boris Yeltsin while the head of state was changed to the title of President of the Russian Federation, also held by Yeltsin.
Acting prime ministers
Living former prime ministers
As of July 2021, there are eight living former prime ministers. The most recent death of a former prime minister was that of Yevgeny Primakov (1998–1999) on 26 June 2015, aged 85.
- ^ Sources which list Vyazmitinov as Saltykov's successor state a date of 9 September 1812; other sources assert that Saltykov was in office until his death
- ^ Some sources (such as the Large Soviet Encyclopedia) list Vyazmitinov as committee minister, while other (such as the History of the Fatherland encyclopedia) don't mention him at all and instead list Lopukhin as the successor of Saltykov.
- ^ Headed the government as President of Russia, was not the Prime Minister.
- ^ Putin de facto took this position on 31 December 1999, when he became Acting President after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. Elected President on 26 March 2000, officially took office on 7 May 2000.