The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), is a federal sovereign socialist state in northern Eurasia established in 1922.
Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy are highly centralized. The country is a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR).
- 1 Introduction
- 2 History
- 3 The State and the Party
- 4 Economy
- 5 Member Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR)
- 6 Culture
- 7 Armed Forces
- 8 State Security and Police
The Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced the autocratic regime of Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, after a civil war ending in the Bolsheviks' victory, the USSR was formed by a treaty which united the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Under Stalin the Soviet Union rapidly industrialized, fought and won along the Allies World War II against Nazi Germany. However Stalin's rule was characterized by its political repression that authoritarian and unwilling to accept or tolerate dissidents or questions of its rule. Thousands of militants of the Party were purged.
After Stalin's death in 1945, reforms began to be implemented first to return to socialist legality and improve basic liberties and right but keeping one-party rule. Thought industrialized, the Soviet Union lagged behind in scientific and technological innovation. However, heavy investment in science and technology in the 1960s led to several improvements in the centralized socialist economy and society of the Soviet Union coming at par in some areas with United America and the European Associated States (AES).
Vozhd Stalin (1922-1945)
Stalin formalized the Communist Party's ideology of Marxism–Leninism and replaced the market economy (NEP) with a planned economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During this period, rapid economic development resulted in dramatic improvements in the average standard of living, particularly in urban areas. Despite these improvements, major tragedies also occurred. In addition to drought, which was a primary factor in a long history of regularly occurring famines in the region, agricultural collectivization contributed to a major famine in 1932-33, causing millions of deaths. Political paranoia fermented, especially after the rise of the Nazis in Germany in 1933, culminating in the Great Purge, during which hundreds of thousands of persons accused of spying or sabotage were arrested and executed without trial.
In 1922, Stalin was named the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Lenin had appointed Stalin the head of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, which gave Stalin considerable power. By gradually consolidating his influence and isolating and outmaneuvering his rivals within the party, Stalin became the undisputed leader of the country and, by the end of the 1920s, established a totalitarian rule. On October 1927, Zinoviev and Trotsky were expelled from the Central Committee and forced into exile.
In 1928, Stalin introduced the first five-year plan for building a socialist economy. In place of the internationalism expressed by Lenin and Trotsky throughout the Revolution, it aimed to build Socialism in One Country. In industry, the state assumed control over all existing enterprises and undertook an intensive program of industrialization. In agriculture, rather than adhering to the "lead by example" policy advocated by Lenin, forced collectivization of farms was implemented all over the country.
Famines ensued as a result, causing deaths estimated at three to seven million; surviving kulaks were persecuted, and many were sent to Gulags to do forced labor. Social upheaval continued in the mid-1930s. Despite the turmoil of the mid-to-late 1930s, the country developed a robust industrial economy in the years preceding World War II.
Closer cooperation between the USSR and the West developed in the early 1930s. From 1932 to 1934, the country participated in the World Disarmament Conference. On September 1934, the country joined the League of Nations. After the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, the USSR actively supported the Republican forces against the Nationalists, who were supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.
On December 1936, Stalin unveiled a new constitution. This text repealed restrictions on voting and added universal direct suffrage and the right to work to rights guaranteed by the previous constitution of 1924. In addition, the constitution of 1936 recognized collective social and economic rights including the rights to work, rest and leisure, health protection, care in old age and sickness, housing, education and cultural benefits. The constitution of 1936 also provided for the direct election of all government bodies and their reorganization into a single, uniform system.
In 1937, diplomatic relations between United America and the USSR were established. The socialist government of Sarah Leslie and the AWP also negotiated a trade and cultural agreement between the two countries. However, relations started to run afoul when it became obvious to Stalin that the AWP would not endorse Marxism-Leninism as its official ideology and instead proclaim itself a broad Marxist party with a key influence of Trotskyism. Relations where not broken but an ideological divide was effectively established. This was specially obvious during the Spanish Civil War were Leslie and Stalin gave support and aid to conflicting left-wing parties. The Communist International (Comintern) in several proclamations denounced the AWP as a pseudo-left opportunist bourgeois party.
Stalin's Great Purge (1936-1938) resulted in the detainment or execution of many "Old Bolsheviks" who had participated in the October Revolution with Lenin. Show trials were staged to incriminate political or ideological adversaries. the purge also included those that has sympathies or contacts with United America or AWP.
A number of Stalin's adversary choose to exile themselves in United America leading to tense and animosity between both socialist states. The American embassy was put under the security of the NKVD. Several people that attempted to gain asylum were detained.
World War II and the German invasion of the USSR gave space to breach and cooperation between United America and the USSR. Military aid, medicines, industrial supplies, fuel, metals were shipped to the Soviet Union, along American volunteers Brigades that took part in engagements against the Germans along the Red Army.
The Reforms (1945-1961)
Stalin's death in October of 1945 with no anointed successor nor a framework within which a transfer of power could take place opened a succession crisis. The system of collective leadership was restored, and measures introduced to prevent any one member attaining autocratic domination again. The collective leadership included senior members of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Georgy Malenkov, Lavrentiy Beria, Vyacheslav Molotov, Andrei Zhdanov, Kliment Voroshilov, Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Bulganin, Lazar Kaganovich and Anastas Mikoyan. Of these Beria, head of the NKVD, was removed from power and subsequently arrested on charges of rape and treason. Georgy Malenkov, as First Secretary of the Party rapidly consolidated his power in the party and state. Later, hardliner Stalinist such as Zhdanov, Molotov and Kaganovich were removed from any post of political relevance.
Malenkov ruled over an uneasy compromise between hardline Stalinists and Reformers. The settlement broke down with the ascension of the reformist premiership of Khrushchev in 1954.
However one basic premise was the end of Stalinist purges and trials, political enemies were to be removed from post of political significance and not put in front of show trials nor killed. Surveillance of dissidents was still done but far from the violent and brutal methods and extermination of whole groups or families. A mass amnesty for those imprisoned for non-political crimes was issued, halving the country's inmate population, while the state security and Gulag systems were reformed, with torture being banned.
Under Malenkov more resources were diverted to consumer goods instead of concentrating on heavy industry. Reforms to the Soviet system were immediately implemented. Economic reforms scaled back the mass construction projects, placed a new emphasis on house building, and eased the levels of taxation on the peasantry to stimulate production.
Stalin's Socialism in one country, already challenged by the existence of Socialist United America, was abandoned as one of the tenets of the CPSU with the triumph of the Japanese Revolution and establishment of a third socialist state (1952) and the ongoing Chinese Civil War and Revolution were the Chinese Communist seemed to come close to victory. The new leaders and Malenkov's policies sought a rapprochement with the United America.
After WWII the Red Army had occupied central and eastern Europe. Malenkov's Eastern Europe foreign policy was to established regimes allied to the Soviet Union, weaken Western European influence and the payment of war reparations and use of their resources in rebuilding the war-torn European territories of the USSR. The regimes that had allied with the Axis Powers were dismissed and democratic coalition governments installed. Under democratic elections that forbade the participation of fascist and right wing authoritarian parties and personalities were new republican regimes established. A revived popular front policy led to the election of center-left governments in the Eastern Bloc. In some countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Albania ruthless reforms were pursued under the direction of Soviet advisors. A definite settlement for a united neutral Germany was pursued in the 1950s and 1960s with the Franco-British Union (FBU) and United America that also secured the German-Polish borders.
Heavy State emphasis, planning and investment on science and technology were placed in order to rebuilt postwar Soviet Union and to compete with the highly industrial United America. The development of nuclear weapons was pursued with success. A number of scientific and technological efforts such as the first artificial satellite and manned flight were accomplished.
The Storm Clashes (1961-1971)
From 1961 to 1971 was a period of fast and contradictory changes. The most enduring was the refute of Stalin's Cult of Personality and criticism of his period as leader of the USSR. Old Stalinist were dropped from position of power and influence. Several economic and political reforms were implemented some more successful than others.
Khrushchev's ascension to the leadership of the CPSU in the 21st Congress (1961) marked an acceleration of the reforms that he already advocated as premier (1954-1962). However, his leadership style alienated many members of the Central Committee and Politburo. Flaws in policies and poorly implemented reforms were to mark his downfall. Under attacks by allies and foes and already with severe health issues he tendered Khrushchev resignation to the party leadership in 1962. Fellow reformist and Deputy General Secretary Nikolai Podgorny took over the party.
A major turn was the approval of the Constitution of the USSR of 1965, after extensive debates in the Party and its preliminary approval by a plenary of the Central Committee and the Supreme Soviet. An important article was the limit of office terms in the State, recall of elected deputies, referendum, an administrative reform and its division in rural and urban areas, clarification of the power of judicial review between the Supreme Court and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and new social rights (health, housing, protection of nature and its wealth, protection of children, access to the achievements of culture).
Despite Khrushchev's downfall important reforms were made to the State and Party. The 21st Congress voted to redact a new Soviet Constitution and the preparatory works for the reform of party rules and a new party program. The main economic reforms were the establishment of the Sovnarkhoz (Council of National Economy) for the planning and operational management at regional level of industry replacing many industrial ministries. The Vesenkha (Supreme Board of the National Economy) was in charge of coordinating the Sovnarkhoz and was subordinate to the Council of Ministers.
In keeping in line with the general policy of removal of the leadership of the party at all levels with a new generation of militants Podgorny strictly followed it dismissing from positions of power those oppose to it like the Brezhnev clique. A period of stabilization and grounding of what was already done characterized the tenure of Podgorny (1968-1971).
Under Khrushchev the relationships with the Eastern Bloc were eased and it stopped being a cheap source of materials and technology. Cooperation and reciprocity became the key guidelines in the relations between USSR and Eastern Bloc. To further communications the Friendship High Speed Railway begins its construction in 1968.
The Will of a New Generation (1971-1996)
The period from 1971 to 1996 was characterized by the renewal of the ruling members of the CPSU and the other state bodies. A detente with Western and Central Europe was established removing the threat of a military conflict. Relationships with Northern China, Japan and United America, although ideologically fierce, became more amicably and cooperation open in outer space research. The swift and crashing reforms under Khrushchev were slowed down and in some cases reversed.
The 23rd Congress of the PCUS (1971) was marked by two events, the renewal of more than half of the members of the Central Committee and that its majority had been born after the October Revolution (1920-1940). The elected General Secretary Vladlen Kozlov being an example of the shaking up of the leadership by the new generation.
Previous reforms like the economic decentralization were reassigned. The Vesenkha was reformed and some its tasks re-assigned to the Gosplan, the newly created State Production Committees and the Presidium of the Council of Ministers. The Sovnarkhozy were keep but became more coordinate to the SSR's Council of Ministers and the All-Union Council of Ministers.
The Friendship High Speed Railway begins its services between Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia in 1994.
The Party control of electoral process was relaxed allowing independent candidates to be nominated for elections if he or she collected a certain number of signatures from registered voters in their electoral district along a binding electoral platform. This enabled independent candidates from the political spectrum of the left and outside the CPSU, such as democratic socialists and left-wing nationalists, to stand in the elections. The prohibition of forming other parties besides the CPSU was kept in place. Anarchist, bourgeoisie liberals and similar groups were de jure banned from standing to elections.
To ensure party rule the elections of village, raion and workplace soviets candidates were to be nominated by meeting of electors under auspices of local branches of the CPSU. The newly created workplace soviets would also take part in the management of the work condition and cooperate with local trade unions. It reality trade unions informally approved and nominated the candidates.
Readjustment and Rectification (1996-2016)
The rise of Olga Ignatiev marked a reprise of reforms and anti-corruption campaigns. Though the Soviet Union had made several impressive scientific and technological firsts non marked an notable improvement in the daily life of citizens, workers and farmers.
The State and the Party
There are three major power centers in the Soviet Union: the legislature represented by the Supreme Soviet, the government represented by the Council of Ministers (Sovmin), and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the only legal party and the final policymaker in the country.
The CPSU maintains its dominance over the state mainly through its control over the system of appointments. All senior government officials and most deputies of the Supreme Soviet are members of the Party.
The State and Government
The Soviet Constitution of 1965 redesigned the government of the Soviet Union. The USSR is defined as a socialist state of the whole people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia, the working people of all the nations and nationalities of the country. The Constitution nominally grants all manner of personal and social rights and freedoms, and spelled out a number of democratic procedures as in the Constitution of 1936. In practice, by asserting the "leading role" of the Communist Party. It cemented the complete control of the party over the State and society.
The Constitution of 1965, as in the previous ones of 1924 and 1936, kept the right of constituent Soviet republics to secede from the Union. The Defense Council, the main body of the national defense, was officially enshrined in the Constitution, with Presidium of the Supreme Soviet approving its composition and nomination. Key provisions are the limit of mandates for the deputies and limit to two consecutive term (8 years) of office for all elected offices, including the members of all Presidia within the USSR. Candidates for elections are approved and can be proposed by the CPSU, Komsomol, trade unions, scientific and cultural societies.
The 1965 Soviet constitution repealed restrictions on voting and added universal direct suffrage and the right to work to rights guaranteed by the previous constitution. In addition, the constitution recognizes collective social and economic rights including the rights to work, rest and leisure, health protection, care in old age and sickness, housing, education and cultural benefits. The constitution also provides for the direct election of all government bodies and their reorganization into a single, uniform system.
According to the Constitution of 1965 the Supreme Soviet is the supreme state body of the Soviet Union. The Supreme Soviet is a bicameral body consisting of the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. The Supreme Soviet elects a Presidium to wield its power between plenary sessions, ordinarily held twice a year. The Soviet Supreme elects and appoints the Supreme Court, the Procurator General and the Council of Ministers,that manages an enormous bureaucracy responsible for the administration of the economy and society. The exclusive attribution of the Supreme Soviet are the admission of new republics, creation of new autonomous republics and autonomous regions, approval of the five-year plan for social and economic development and creation of the state budget. The Constitution of 1965 established a sort of parliamentary responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Soviet Supreme.
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, elected by joint session of the Supreme Soviet, functions as the collective head of state of the USSR. The Presidium consists of a chairperson, a first vice-chairperson, one deputy from each republic, a secretary, and 20 members. The Presidium is accountable to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for all its activities. The Constitution of 1965 gave more executive functions to the Presidium the such as the right dissolve the Supreme Council and call early elections, appoint and remove the Sovmin when the Soviet Supreme is not in sessions, and call for a referendums.
The Council of Ministers (Sovmin), is formed and elected by a joint meeting of the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities. The Sovmin consists of a Chairperson (informally Premier), several First Deputies, Deputies, ministers, Chairpersons of the state committees and the Chairpersons of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Republics. The Premier, as head of government, is responsible and accountable to the Supreme Soviet (and its Presidium). The Presidium of the Council of Ministers was established for the purpose of supervising and coordinating the vast network of government committees, commissions, and other institutions that report to the Council of Ministers. In the USSR there are two types of ministries: all-union that oversee a particular activity for the entire Soviet Union, and union-republic that have central ministry in Moscow, which coordinates the work of counterpart ministries in the republic governments. This distinction also involves state committees and government agencies.
The Supreme Court supervises the lower courts (People's Court) and applies the law as established by the constitution or as interpreted by the Supreme Soviet. The Supreme Court and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet review the constitutionality of laws and acts. The Soviet Union uses the inquisitorial system of Roman law, where the judge, procurator, and defence attorney collaborate to establish the truth. The supreme courts of Union Republics and Autonomous Republics are elected by their respective supreme soviets. All courts are on the principle of the electiveness of judges and people's assessors, every four years.
State and party structures of the constituent republics, be it SSR, ASSR, autonomous oblasts and others, largely emulate the structure of the central federal institutions, although the Russian SFSR, unlike the other constituent republics, had no republican branch of the Communist Party until 1963, being ruled directly by the union-wide party. Local authorities are organized likewise into party committees, local Soviets and executive committees. While the state system is nominally federal, the party is unitary in its governance. Representatives of public organizations and of work collectives may take part in civil and criminal proceedings. The economic disputes between enterprises, institutions, and organizations are settled by state arbitration bodies (boards of arbitration) within their jurisdiction.
The state security police (the NKVD and its predecessor agencies) played an important role in Soviet politics. It was instrumental in the Great Purge, but was brought under strict party control after Stalin's death.
Chairpersons of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
Chairpersons (Premier) of the Council of Ministers
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
|Communist Party of the Soviet Union|
Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза
|General Secretary||Vikenti Filippov|
|Deputy General Secretary||Lyubov Sokolovsky|
|Slogan||Workers of the world, unite!|
|Founded||January 1912 (as RSDLP(b)), March 1918 (as RCP(b)), December 1925 (as AUCP(b)) and October 1952 (as CPSU)|
|Preceded by||Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP)|
|Youth wing||Komsomol (includes Young Pioneers)|
|Political position||Left-wing to Far-left|
|International affiliation||Comintern (1919–1943)|
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) is the founding and ruling political party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU is the sole governing party of the Soviet Union. Its named from 1918–1925: Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), and 1925–1952: All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks).
The party was founded in 1912 by the Bolsheviks, a majority faction detached from the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, who seized power in the October Revolution of 1917.
The CPSU is a Marxism–Leninism Communist party, organized on the basis of democratic centralism. This principle, conceived by Lenin, entails democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party followed by the requirement of total unity in upholding the agreed policies.
Under Marxism–Leninism it is explained and legitimized the CPSU's right to rule while explaining its role as a vanguard party. For instance, the CPSU's policies, even if they are unpopular, are correct because the party is enlightened. Marxism–Leninism is the only truth that by by its very nature cannot become outdated. It represents as the only truth in Soviet society; the Party rejects the notion of multiple truths. Marxism–Leninism is used to justify CPSU rule and Soviet policy but it was not used as a means to an end. The relationship between ideology and decision-making is at best ambivalent; most policy decisions are made in the light of the continued, permanent development of Marxism–Leninism.
The highest body within the CPSU is the Party Congress, which is convened every five years. Delegates at the Party Congresses elected the members of the Central Committee and the Central Auditing Commission. When the Congress is not in session, the Central Committee is the highest body. Because the Central Committee meets twice a year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities are vested in the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Orgburo (until 1952).
The structure of the CPSU includes the 15 ruling republican Communist parties of the USSR. The Russian SFSR does not have a republican communist party structure, and was subordinated directly to the CPSU Central Committee: The 21st Congress (1961) approved a resolution of the establishment of a republican level branch in Russia. The Communist Party of the RSFSR (In short Communist Party of Russia) was officially founded in 1963.
Congresses of the CPSU: 1st (1898), 2nd (1903), 3rd (1905), 4th (1906), 5th (1907), 6th (1917), 7th (1918), 8th (1919), 9th (1920), 10th (1921), 11th (1922), 12th (1923), 13th (1924), 14th (1925), 15th (1927), 16th (1930), 17th (1934), 18th (1939), 19th (1952), 20th (1956), 21st (1961), 22nd (1966) 23rd (1971), 24th (1976), 25th (1981), 26th (1986), 27th (1991), 28th (1996), 29th (2001), 30th (2006), 31th (2011), 32th (2016), 33th (2021).
The party leader is the de facto paramount leader of the Soviet Union. The party leader has held the office of General Secretary along that of Premier or head of state, or some of the two offices concurrently—but never all three at the same time. The tensions between the party and the state (Supreme Soviet and Sovmin) for the shifting focus of power have never been formally resolved, but in reality the party dominates and a paramount leader has always existed (first Lenin and thereafter the General Secretary). Since the establishment of the USSR Defense Council, the Party leader is also its chairperson.
The economy of the Soviet Union is based on a system of state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, industrial manufacturing and centralized administrative planning. The Soviet economy is characterized by state control of investment, public ownership of industrial assets, macroeconomic stability, negligible unemployment, high growth rates and high job security. However the later was reformed in the 1980s promoting a system of traineeship.
A major strength of the Soviet economy is its enormous supply of oil and gas, that is also an important source of foreign currency. Agriculture is organized into a system of collective farms (kolkhozes) and state farms (sovkhozes).
The Soviet economy is mainly managed through Gosplan (the State Planning Commission), Gosbank (the State Bank), the Gossnab (State Commission for Materials and Equipment Supply) and the Presidium of the Sovmin. Beginning in 1928, the economy is directed by a series of five-year plans. The initial five-year plans aimed to achieve rapid industrialization in the Soviet Union and thus placed a major focus on heavy industry. Later plans prioritized the light and technological industries and consumer goods and foodstuff.
These five-year plans have been: First plan, 1928–1932, Second plan, 1933–1937, Third plan, 1938–1941 (frustrated by beginning of WWII), fourth 1946-1950, fifth 1951–1955, sixth 1956-1960, Seventh plan, 1961-1965, Eighth plan, 1966–1970, Ninth plan, 1971–1975, Tenth plan, 1976–1981, Eleventh plan, 1981–1985, Twelfth plan, 1986–1990, Thirteenth plan, 1991–1995, 14th 1996-2000, 15th 2001-2005, 16th 2006-2010, 17th 2011-2015, 18th 2016-2020.
A number of economic reforms, some more successful than others, have been enacted. The most important ones been Khrushchev's reorganization of labor and its planning (1962), the implementation of the National Production Information Network (OPI-Network, 1971-1981), Kosygin's reforms (1973-1976), and Chaykovsky's territorial production complexes (TPK, 1996).
The reforms of 1962 introduced regional planning and management by means of the sovnarkhozy (council of national economy SNK) initially divided into 105 economic regions and doing away with the industrial ministries in Moscow. The economic disruption and inefficiency of these reforms led to dismantling aspects of it. For example due to high prices in food the agriculture was again centrally planned with its national ministry reestablished and the union-republic State Production Committee of Irrigation and Water Resources created.
The National Production Information Network (NPIN, or the Network) was created with the original purpose of being a tool specifically for the sovnarkhozy and in a broader role as part of the national economic planning and management, was implemented in its first version between 1971-1981. Its second version would be enlarge to link all scientific research centers. The Armed Forces had in parallel develop their own closed network. The basic local unit of the OPI-Network at the production centers and TPK is the automated control system (ASU from the Russian translit АСУ). The ASU is a set of hardware and computer applications, that were latter interconnected in wider networks in the second version of the OPI-Network. As a by product local information networks as part of the Network for general use began to be implemented under the design of thin client computers. These thin clients were cheaper to manufacture and maintain than a conventional computer and the basic and sometimes the only equipment supplied and available for research and educational and personal use. Also conventional personal computers were more prone to failures due to defective manufacturing and lack of quality control in the 1980s and only supplied as part of the ASU.
The state policy for investment and improvement in science and technology was transferred to the State Committee for Science and Technology (GKNT). Exceptions to the GKNT were the space program and nuclear energy development that are supervised by the all-union ministries of the Space Exploration and Research and the Atomic Energy and Industries, respectively.
Member Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR)
Constitutionally, the USSR is a federation of constituent Union Republics - Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), which are either unitary states, such as Ukraine or Byelorussia (SSRs), or federations, such as Russia or former Transcaucasia (SFSRs).
Several of the SSRs, most notably Russia, are further subdivided into Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs). Though administratively part of their respective Union Republics, ASSRs are established based on ethnic/cultural lines. The ASSRs have a lower political rights and status than the SSR, but higher than the autonomous oblasts and the autonomous/national okrugs, the later present only in Russia.
Each union republic (SSR) and autonomous republic (ASSR) has its own governments (Presidium and Council of Ministers) formed by the republican legislature (Supreme Soviet) of the respective union republic or autonomous republic. Republican governments are not legally subordinate to the All-Union government, but they are obliged in their activities to be guided by the decrees and decisions of the All-Union government. At the same time, the union-republican ministries have double subordination – they simultaneously submitted to the union republican government, within the framework of which they are created, and to the corresponding all-union government, orders and instructions which should have been guided in their activities. In contrast to the union republican ministries of the union republic, the republican ministries are subordinate only to the government of the corresponding union republic.
All SSR and ASSR have their own local republican party chapters of the CPSU.
Amendments to the 1936 Constitution of the USSR and in the present Constitution has allowed for separate branches of the Red Army for each SSR.
|Name SSR||Flag||Capital||Official languages||Established||Joined USSR|
|Armenian SSR||Yerevan||Armenian, Russian||1920-1922 (incorporation into the Transcausasian SFSR), 1936 to date||1936|
|Azerbaijan SSR||Baku||Azerbaijani, Russian||1920-1922 (incorporation into the Transcausasian SFSR), 1936 to date||1936|
|Byelorussian SSR||Minsk||Byelorussian, Russian||1920||1922|
|Estonian SSR||Tallinn||Estonian, Russian||1940||1940|
|Georgian SSR||Tbilisi||Georgian, Russian||1920-1922 (incorporation into the Transcausasian SFSR), 1936 to date||1936|
|Kazakh SSR||Alma-Ata||Kazakh, Russian||1936||1936|
|Kirghiz SSR||Frunze||Kirghiz, Russian||1936||1936|
|Latvian SSR||Riga||Latvian, Russian||1940||1940|
|Lithuanian SSR||Vilnius||Lithuanian, Russian||1940||1940|
|Moldavian SSR||Kishinev||Moldavian, Russian||1940||1940|
|Tajik SSR||Dushanbe||Tajik, Russian||1929||1929|
|Turkmen SSR||Ashkhabad||Turkmen, Russian||1925||1925|
|Ukrainian SSR||Kiev||Ukrainian, Russian||1919||1922|
|Uzbek SSR||Tashkent||Uzbek, Russian||1924||1924|
|Karelo-Finnish SSR||Petrozavodsk||Finnish, Karelian, Russian||1940||1940|
|Transcaucasian SFSR||Tiflis||Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Russian||1922-1936 dissolved and divided again among the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijani SSRs||1922-1936|
The culture of the Soviet Union passed through several stages. It has been contributed to by people of various nationalities from every single one of the union republics, although a slight majority of them were Russians. The Soviet state (i.e. CPSU) supports cultural institutions, but also carries several forms of control and censorship.
During the Lenin years (1917-1922) a cultural revolution occurred in this case referring to the a complex of measures carried out in Soviet Russia and the USSR aimed at radically restructuring the cultural and ideological life of society. The state legalised abortion, and made divorce progressively easier to obtain, whilst public canteen proliferated at the expense of private family kitchens.
In the Stalin era (1922-1945) the arts were characterised by the rise and domination of the government-imposed style of Socialist realism, with all other trends being severely repressed, with rare exceptions. Many writers were imprisoned and killed, or died of starvation.
The Post-Stalin era (1945-1971) was characterized by a removal of the most oppressive measures of the previous era and cultural liberalization. Tought, the propaganda of communist ideas and the Soviet way of life was still carried out purposefully and centrally under the leadership of the CPSU and officially called ideological work, enlightenment of the masses and the like, was carried out, the absolute control of social life was unofficially abandoned. Unofficial or non state sponsored expresion of the arts were allowed within certain limits as long as they did not openly criticized the Communist Party or State.
The planning, management and production of books, films and mass media is done by state committees being these: Goskino (film production), Goskomizdat (publishing houses, printing plants, the book trade) and Gosteleradio (radio and television).
Influential newspapers of the Soviet Union are Pravda (the official newspaper of the CPSU), Izvestia (published by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR), Komsomolskaya Pravda (organ of Komsomol), Krasnaya Zvezda (organ of the Soviet Armed Forces), Trud (press organ of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, VTsSPS) and Pionerskaya Pravda (organ of the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union). The Sovetskaya Rossiya (publication of the Central Committee of the CPSU), is in the Russian SFSR the most widely distributed newspaper.
The literary bimonthly Literaturnaya Gazeta (Literary Gazette) disseminates the views of the USSR Union of Writers and contains authoritative statements and perspectives concerning literature, plays, cinema, and literary issues of popular interest. The Sovetskiy Sport (organ of the USSR State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports and VTsSP) is a major sports newspaper. At Republican, regional, and local level several newspapers are published in dozens of languages.
Officially and constitutionally censorships does not exist. However, restrictions exist. For example State secrets were handled by the General Directorate for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press (Glavlit), which is in charge of censoring all publications and broadcasting for state secrets. Control of all other contents that is not a state secret is done by several other bodies that also plan and manage their media industry. For example Goskomizdat books and printed publications, Goskino, cinema and Gosteleradio, radio and television broadcasting.
The circumvention of censorship, a common practise at times encouraged by the State and the CPSU, is mainly done by the samizdat, allegorical styles, smuggling, and tamizdat (publishing abroad), underground or unlicensed private libraries. State censorship has never being applied over technical scientific literature after 1945 along ideological control the science. Decrees and ordinances enacted during Khrushchev's premiership (1961-1968) defined more clearly the nature and scope of state secrets. The officially sanctioned style of socialist realism was gradually abandoned in favor of artistic freedom and also unofficial circuit and venues exhibit the alternative non-conformist arts are largely undisturbed.
However censorship restrictions are especially acute when discussing national issues. According to the ideological principles of the CPSU, in the USSR there are no interethnic contradictions and problems. Therefore, censorship bodies pay special attention to materials mentioning instead of the Soviet people certain ethnic group and therefore were reviewed or corrected. Russian nationalism is a heavily censored issue.
|Type||National public broadcaster|
|Launch date||Radio (1924 to date) and television (1938-1941, 1945 to date)|
|National radio service||All-Union Radio (Всесоюзное радио) and its four national radio channels (All Union First Programme, Radio Mayak, Radio Yunost and Radio Orfey)|
|National television service||Central Television of the USSR (CT USSR / ЦТ СССР)|
|International radio service||Radio Moscow and Radio Peace and Progress|
Broadcasting in the Soviet Union was owned by the Soviet state, and is under its control and censorship. Under the control of the Soviet Union, censorship and limitation on information are filtered for the citizens to ensure the common culture and socialist ideals are maintained.
The USSR State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting (Gosteleradio), is the Soviet Union's governing body of broadcasting, in charge both of television (Central Television of the USSR) and radio (All-Union Radio) networks and stations.
In addition to the national radio and television channels, each SSR and ASSR have their own state radio and television broadcasting committees, although other regions are allowed specific regional state broadcasting committees.
The Soviet Union's radio and television news are provided by TASS (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union). TASS includes affiliated news agencies in all SSRs in addition to Russia. Novosti Press Agency (APN) is the leading information and press body of public organizations representing Soviet public opinion. APN founders are the USSR Journalists Union, USSR Writers Union, Union of Soviet Societies of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and the Znaniye Society. These organizations are also editors of Radio Peace and Progress.
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the USSR are the armed forces of the Soviet Union and the CPSU from their beginnings in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War to present day.
According to the all-union military service law of September 1925, the Soviet Armed Forces consisted of three components: the Ground Forces, the Air Forces, the Navy, the State Political Directorate (OGPU), and the convoy guards. The OGPU was later made independent and amalgamated with the NKVD in 1934, and thus its Internal Troops were under the joint management of the Defense and Interior Ministries. After World War II, the Strategic Missile Forces (1959) and Air Defence Forces (1948) were added.
The Ministry of Defense, an all-union ministry, directs the Soviet Armed services and all military activities on a daily basis. It is responsible for fielding, arming, and supplying the armed services, and in peacetime all territorial commands of the armed forces reported to it.
The Defense Council, chaired by the General Secretary of the CPSU, is the permanent advisory body of the national defense, military industries and issues and reviews the national defence policy. Among its members are the chairperson of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the Premier, the ministers of the National Defense and the chairperson of State Committee for Defense Technology (until it was disbanded in 1970). However the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet forms and approves the membership and attribution of the Defense Council.
State Security and Police
The Committee for State Security, better know as the KGB, is the main security agency for the Soviet Union from 1954. As a direct successor of preceding agencies such as the Cheka, NKGB, NKVD and MGB, the committee is attached to the Council of Ministers. It is the chief government agency of "union-republican jurisdiction", acting as internal security, intelligence and secret police. Similar agencies are constituted in each of the republics of the Soviet Union aside from Russian SFSR, and consisted of many ministries, state committees and state commissions.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), a union-republic ministry, is in charge of police, maintaining public order, combating public intoxication, supervising parolees, managing prisons and labor camps, providing fire protection, and controlling traffic. The Militsiya (uniformed police) is the regular police force under supervision of the MVD. The Internal Troops of the MVD are paramilitary gendarmerie-like force with the function of support and reinforce the Militsiya, deal with large-scale crowd control, internal armed conflicts, prison security (except in Russia) and safeguarding of highly-important facilities
- Successor of the Congress of Soviets and Central Executive Committee since 1936.
- Former Council of People's Commissars.
- Organisational Bureau.
- Территориально-производственный комплекс, Tпк (Territorial'no-proizvodstvennyy kompleks, TPK)
- Russian: совнархоз, совет народного хозяйства, sovet narodnogo khozyaystva)
- In Russian: Общегосударственная производственная информационная сеть (Опи-сеть /OPI-Network) or сеть (Network).
- Kirghiz ASSR (1920-1925), Kazakh ASSR (1925-1936) of the Russian SFSR
- Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast (1924-1926), Kirghiz ASSR (1926–36) of the Russian SFSR
- Moldavian Autonomous Oblast (1924-1924), Moldavian ASSR (1924-1940) of the Ukrainian SSR
- Tajik ASSR (1924-1929) of the Uzbek SSR
- Part of the Turkestan ASSR (1918–1924) of the Russian SFSR
- Part of the Turkestan ASSR (1918–1924) of the Russian SFSR
- Karelian ASSR (1923–1940) of the Russian SFSR
- USSR State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting (Russian: Государственный комитет СССР по телевидению и радиовещанию)
- Russian: Комите́т Госуда́рственной Безопа́сности (КГБ), tr. Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti