Soviet Union

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Soviet Union
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{{distinguish|Soviet Russia}}{{pp-semi-indef}}{{pp-move-indef}}{{short description|1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia}}{{redirect-multi|3|USSR|CCCP|Soviet}}{{use dmy dates|date=January 2018}}

{{nowrapСоюз Советских Социалистических Республик}}}}{{nowrap{{small|Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik}}}}}}|common_name = the Soviet Union|era = 20th century|religion = State atheismsee Religion in the Soviet Union1922–1990:}}Federalism Marxism–Leninism>Marxist–Leninist One-party state socialist state>socialist republicHistorical Dictionary of Socialism. James C. Docherty, Peter Lamb. Page 85. "The Soviet Union was a one-party Marxist-Leninist state".Ideology, Interests, and Identity. Stephen H. Hanson. Page 14. "the USSR was officially a Marxist-Leninist state".The Fine Line between the Enforcement of Human Rights Agreements and the Violation of National Sovereignty: The Case of Soviet Dissidents. Jennifer Noe Pahre. p. 336. "[...] the Soviet Union, as a Marxist-Leninist state [...]". p. 348. "The Soviet Union is a Marxist–Leninist state".Leninist National Policy: Solution to the "National Question"?. Walker Connor. Page 31. "[...] four Marxist-Leninist states (the Soviet Union, China, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia)[...]".{{small1990–91:}}Federal republic>Federal Semi-presidential systemHTTP://CONSTITUTION.GARANT.RU/HISTORY/USSR-RSFSR/1977/ZAKONY/185465PUBLISHER=GARANT.RU, 12 July 2010, |life_span = 1922–1991|date_start = 30 December 1922Treaty on the Creation of the USSR>Treaty of CreationNazi Germany>Germaninvasion|date_event1 = 22 June 1941European theatre of World War II>WWII|date_event2 = 9 May 1945United Nations Charter>Admittedto the UN|date_event3 = 24 October 19451977 Soviet Constitution>Constitutionadopted|date_event4 = 9 October 1977|event5 = Warsaw Pactdissolved|date_event5 = 1 July 1991August Coup>AugustCoup|date_event6 = 19–22 August 1991|date_end = 26 December 1991Dissolution of the Soviet Union>dissolved|image_flag = Flag of the Soviet Union.svg{{!}}borderFlag of the Soviet Union>Flag(1924–91)|image_coat = State Emblem of the Soviet Union.svgState Emblem of the Soviet Union>State Emblem(1956–91)|image_map = Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (orthographic projection).svg|image_map_size = 220px|image_map_caption = The Soviet Union after World War II|image_map2 = Republics of the USSR.svg|image_map2_size = 246pxtitlestyle=font-weight:normal;background:transparent;text-align:left;Republics of the Soviet Union}}|{hide}columns-list|colwidth=7em|
  • {{flag|Russian SFSR|name=1Russia{edih}
  • {{flag|Ukrainian SSR|name=2Ukraine}}
  • {{flag|Byelorussian SSR|name=3Belarus}}
  • {{flag|Uzbek SSR|name=4Uzbekistan}}
  • {{flag|Kazakh SSR|name=5Kazakhstan}}
  • {{flag|Georgian SSR|name=6Georgia}}
  • {{flag|Azerbaijan SSR|name=7Azerbaijan}}
  • {{flag|Lithuanian SSR|name=8Lithuania}}
  • {{flag|Moldavian SSR|name=9Moldavia}}
  • {{flag|Latvian SSR|name=10Latvia}}
  • {{flag|Kyrgyz SSR|name=11Kirghizia}}
  • {{flag|Tajik SSR|name=12Tajikistan}}
  • {{flag|Armenian SSR|name=13Armenia}}
  • {{flag|Turkmen SSR|name=14Turkmenia}}
  • {{flag|Estonian SSR|name=15Estonia}}}}}}|capital = Moscow
55N37type:city}}|largest_city = capitalru("Workers of the world, unite!", literally: "Proletariansof all countries, unite!")}}The Internationale#Russian lyrics>The Internationale"(1922–1944)(File:Internationale-ru.ogg)"State Anthem of the Soviet Union"{{efn|Different lyrics were used from 1977 to 1991.}}(1944–1991)(File:Soviet Union national anthem instrumental 1977.ogg)Russian language>RussianDe facto before 1990{{ref|3}}Ukrainian language>Belarusian language>Uzbek language>Kazakh language>Georgian language>Azerbaijani language>Lithuanian language>Moldovan language>Latvian language>Kyrgyz language>Tajik language>Armenian language>Turkmen language>Estonian}}|languages_type = Minority languagesAbkhaz language>Buryat language>Finnish language>German language>Korean language>Ossetian language>Tatar language>various others}}East Slavs12% Turkic peoples>Turkic18% other ethnic groups|ethnic_groups_year = 1989Soviet people>Soviet|currency = Soviet ruble (руб)|currency_code = SUR|leader1 = Mikhail Gorbachev|year_leader1 = 1990–1991President of the Soviet Union>President|representative1 = Joseph Stalin (first)|representative2 = Vladimir Ivashko (last)|year_representative1 = 1922–1952|year_representative2 = 1991General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union>General Secretary|deputy1 = Vladimir Lenin (first)|deputy2 = Ivan Silayev (last)|year_deputy1 = 1922–1924|year_deputy2 = 1991Premier of the Soviet Union>Prime MinisterSupreme Soviet of the Soviet Union>Supreme Soviet|house1 = Soviet of Nationalities|house2 = Soviet of the Union|area_km2 = 22,402,200|population_estimate = 293 million|population_estimate_rank = 3rd|population_estimate_year = 1991|population_density_km2 = 8.4|population_density_sq_mi = 21.8|p1 = Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic{{!}}Russian SFSR|flag_p1 = Flag RSFSR 1918.svg|p3 = Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic{{!}}Ukrainian SSR|flag_p3 = Flag of the Ukrainian SSR (1919-1929).svg|p4 = Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic{{!}}Byelorussian SSR|flag_p4 = Flag of the Byelorussian SSR (1919).svg|p5 = Bukharan People's Soviet Republic{{!}}Bukharan PSR|flag_p5 = Flag of the Bukharan People's Soviet Republic.svg|p6 = Khorezm People's Soviet Republic{{!}}Khorezm PSR|flag_p6 = Flag of Khiva 1920-1923.svg|p7 = Estonia|flag_p7 = Flag of Estonia.svg|p8 = Latvia|flag_p8 = Flag of Latvia.svg|p9 = Lithuania|flag_p9 = Flag of Lithuania (1918-1940).svg|p10 = Kingdom of Romania|flag_p10 = Flag of Romania.svg|p11 = Tuvan People's Republic{{!}}Tuvan PR|flag_p11 = Flag of the Tuvan People's Republic (1943-1944).svg|s1 = Russia|flag_s1 = Flag of Russia (1991-1993).svg|s2 = Ukraine|flag_s2 = Flag of Ukraine.svg|s3 = Belarus|flag_s3 = Flag of Belarus (1991-1995).svg|s4 = Armenia|flag_s4 = Flag of Armenia.svg|s5 = Azerbaijan|flag_s5 = Flag of Azerbaijan.svg|s6 = Estonia|flag_s6 = Flag of Estonia.svg|s7 = Georgia (country){{!}}Georgia|flag_s7 = Flag of Georgia (1990-2004).svg|s8 = Kazakhstan|flag_s8 = Flag of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.svg|s9 = Kyrgyzstan|flag_s9 = Flag of Kyrgyzstan (1991-1992).svg|s10 = Latvia|flag_s10 = Flag of Latvia.svg|s11 = Lithuania|flag_s11 = Flag of Lithuania 1989-2004.svg|s12 = Moldova|flag_s12 = Flag of Moldova.svg|s13 = Tajikistan|flag_s13 = Flag of Tajikistan 1991-1992.svg|s14 = Turkmenistan|flag_s14 = Flag of the Turkmen SSR.svg|s15 = Uzbekistan|flag_s15 = Flag of Uzbekistan.svg|footnotes = Notes
  1. {{note|1}}(:s:ru:Декларация Совета Республик ВС СССР от 26.12.1991 № 142-Н|Declaration № 142-Н) of the Soviet of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, formally establishing the dissolution of the Soviet Union as a state and subject of international law. {{ru icon}}
  2. {{note|2}}Original lyrics used from 1944 to 1956. No lyrics from 1956 to 1977. Revised lyrics from 1977 to 1991.
  3. {{note|3}}All-union official since 1990, constituent republics had the right to declare their own official languages.
  4. {{note|4}}Assigned on 19 September 1990, existing onwards.|GDP_PPP = $2.7 trillionweblink|GDP_PPP_rank = 2nd|GDP_PPP_year = 1990|GDP_PPP_per_capita = $9,200 |GDP_nominal = $2.7 trillioweblink| GDP_nominal_year = 1990| GDP_nominal_rank = 2nd| GDP_nominal_per_capita = $9,200 | GDP_nomonal_per_capita_rank = 37rd
.su{{ref>4}}|drives_on = right|calling_code = +7Coordinated Universal Time>UTC+2 to +12)|date_format = dd-mm-yyyy|iso3166code = SU}}The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics{{efn|}} (USSR),{{efn|, {{small|tr.}} Es-Es-Es-Er}} commonly known as the Soviet Union{{efn|}} and known outside as Russia, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991.Television documentary from CC&C Ideacom Production,"Apocalypse Never-Ending War 1918-1926", part 2, aired at Danish DR K at 22.October 2018 Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics,{{efn|Part III of the 1977 Soviet Constitution "THE NATIONAL-STATE STRUCTURE OF THE USSR"}} its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was 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). Russians dominated the Soviet regime.BOOK, Ariel Cohen, Russian Imperialism: Development and Crisis,weblink 1998, Greenwood, 978-0-275-96481-8, 151, BOOK, Anatoly Michailovich Khazanov, After the USSR: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States,weblink 1995, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 978-0-299-14894-2, 239, Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union had spanned eleven time zones and incorporated a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, the Soviet Union shared land borders with Norway, Finland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It shared its maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the US state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. With an area of {{convert|22402200|km2|mi2}}, the Soviet Union was the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area,WEB,weblink Территория и население Российской Федерации, yes,weblink April 16, 2016, WEB,weblink Russia, WEB,weblink Рекорды и антирекорды России, and the third most populous, with over 288 million people as of 1989, with 80% of the population living in the western, European part of the country.The Soviet Union had its roots in the October Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s. Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism (which he created) and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During this period of totalitarian rule, political paranoia fermented and the late-1930s Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in over 600,000 deaths.BOOK, Thurston, Robert W., 1998, Life and Terror in Stalin's Russia, 1934–1941, Yale University Press, 139, 978-0-300-07442-0, Robert W. Thurston, Suppression of political critics and forced labor were carried out by Stalin's government. In 1933, a major famine that became known as the Holodomor in Soviet Ukraine struck multiple Soviet grain-growing regions, causing the deaths of some 3 to 7 million people.{{sfn|Davies|Wheatcroft|2004|pp=xiv, 401 441}}In August 1939, days before the start of World War II, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreeing to non-aggression with Germany, after which the two countries invaded Poland in September 1939. In June 1941, the pact collapsed as Germany turned to attack the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk. The territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union and the postwar division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the West, led by the United States of America.The Cold War emerged by 1947 as the Eastern Bloc, united under the Warsaw Pact in 1955, confronted the Western Bloc, united under NATO in 1949. On 5 March 1953, Stalin died and was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization of Soviet society through the Khrushchev Thaw. The Soviet Union took an early lead in the Space Race, with the first artificial satellite and the first human spaceflight. Dissatisfied with Khrushchev's policies, the Communist Party's conservative wing led a coup d'état against Khrushchev in 1964, quietly ousting him without any bloodshed. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In the mid-1980s, the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). Under Gorbachev, the role of the Communist Party in governing the state was removed from the constitution, causing a surge of severe political instability to set in. The Cold War ended during his tenure; in 1989 Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments.With the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements inside the union republics, Gorbachev tried to avert a dissolution of the Soviet Union in the post-Cold War era. A March 1991 referendum, boycotted by some republics, resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation. Gorbachev's power was greatly diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin played a high-profile role in facing down an abortive August 1991 coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the remaining twelve constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states. The Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and is recognized as the successor state of the Soviet Union.The term "successor state of the Soviet Union" for the Russian Federation was laid down in paragraph 3 of article 1 and paragraph 7 of article 37 of the Federal law "On international treaties of the Russian Federation" of 15 July 1995 No. 101-FZ (adopted by the State Duma on 16 June 1995). — See Federal law of July 15, 1995 â„– 101-FZ On international treaties of the Russian Federation[The case of Mikhail Suprun: the story of political repression as an invasion of privacyweblink]On 13 January 1992 the Russian MFA dispatched to heads of diplomatic missions in Moscow a note in which it was stated that the Russian Federation continues to exercise rights and perform obligations under all agreements concluded by the Soviet Union. On the basis of the specified notes the international community implicitly recognized in the Russian Federation the status of a successor state of the Soviet Union. See International treaties in the legal system of the Russian Federation In summing up the international ramifications of these events, Vladislav Zubok stated: "The collapse of the Soviet empire was an event of epochal geopolitical, military, ideological and economic significance".BOOK, Vladislav M. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev,weblink 2009, Univ of North Carolina Press, ix, 978-0-8078-9905-2, Throughout its existence, the Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. The country had the world's second largest economy and the largest standing military in the world.BOOK, GDP – Million 1990, CIA Factbook, 1991,weblink November 30, 2015, Scott and Scott (1979) p. 305WEB,weblink October 30, 1961 – The Tsar Bomba: CTBTO Preparatory Commission, . The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.WEB, Status of Nuclear Powers and Their Nuclear Capabilities, Federation of American Scientists,weblink March 2008, 19 March 2014, It was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the Warsaw Pact.{{TOC limit|3}}


{{See also|Names of Russia}}{{History of Russia}}The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word meaning council, assembly, advice, harmony, concord (rada); ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and all ultimately deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti ("to inform"), related to Slavic věst ("news"), English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or" (which came to English through French), or the Dutch weten ("to know"; cf. wetenschap meaning "science"). The word sovietnik means "councillor".AMERICANA, Soviet, 1920, Henri F., Klein, A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council" (). For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905.During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he initially named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia ().{{sfnm|1a1=Fischer|1y=1964|1p=608|2a1=Lewin|2y=1969|2p=50|3a1=Leggett|3y=1981|3p=354|4a1=Volkogonov|4y=1994|4p=421|5a1=Service|5y=2000|5p=455|6a1=White|6y=2001|6p=175}} Stalin initially resisted the proposal, but ultimately accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed state to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, albeit all the republics began as "Socialist Soviet" and did not change to the other order until 1936. In addition, in the national languages of several republics the word "Council/Conciliar" in the respective language was only quite late changed to an adaptation of the Russian "Soviet" and never in others, e.g. UkraineIn some cases, due to the length of its name the state was referred to as the Soviet Union or the USSR, especially when used in the Western media. It was also informally called Russia (and its citizens Russians),WEB, Russian,weblink Oxford University Press, 9 May 2017, historical (in general use) a national of the former Soviet Union., though that was technically incorrect since Russia was only one of the republics.ENCYCLOPEDIA, Russia, Merriam-Webster,weblink 10 May 2017,

Geography, climate and environment

With an area of {{convert|22402200|km2}}, the Soviet Union was the world's largest country, a status that is retained by the Russian Federation.Russia – Encyclopædia Britannica. (27 April 2010). Retrieved on 29 July 2013. Covering a sixth of Earth's land surface, its size was comparable to that of North America.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink yes, 15 September 2012, The Former Soviet Union: Physical Geography, Virginia Thompson, Towson University: Department of Geography & Environmental Planning, 24 March 2016, The European portion accounted for a quarter of the country's area, and was the cultural and economic center. The eastern part in Asia extended to the Pacific Ocean to the east and Afghanistan to the south, and, except some areas in Central Asia, was much less populous. It spanned over {{Convert|10000|km}} east to west across 11 time zones, and over {{Convert|7200|km}} north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.The Soviet Union had the world's longest border, like Russia, measuring over {{Convert|60000|km}}, or {{frac|1|1|2}} circumferences of Earth. Two-thirds of it was a coastline. Across the Bering Strait was the United States. The Soviet Union bordered Afghanistan, China, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, Iran, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Turkey from 1945 to 1991.The Soviet Union's highest mountain was Communism Peak (now Ismoil Somoni Peak) in Tajikistan, at {{Convert|7495|m}}. The Soviet Union also included most of the world's largest lakes; the Caspian Sea (shared with Iran), and Lake Baikal, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake that is also an internal body of water in Russia.


{{History of the Soviet Union}}The last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, ruled the Russian Empire until his abdication in March 1917 in the aftermath of the February Revolution, due in part to the strain of fighting in World War I, which lacked public support. A short-lived Russian Provisional Government took power, to be overthrown in the October Revolution (N.S. 7 November 1917) by revolutionaries led by the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.NEWS,weblink The causes of the October Revolution, BBC, 5 August 2014, The Soviet Union was officially established in December 1922 with the union of the Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Transcaucasian Soviet republics, each ruled by local Bolshevik parties. Despite the foundation of the Soviet state as a federative entity of many constituent republics, each with its own political and administrative entities, the term "Soviet Russia"{{spaced ndash}}strictly applicable only to the Russian Federative Socialist Republic{{spaced ndash}}was often applied to the entire country by non-Soviet writers and politicians.

Revolution and foundation

Modern revolutionary activity in the Russian Empire began with the Decembrist revolt of 1825. Although serfdom was abolished in 1861, it was done on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to encourage revolutionaries. A parliament—the State Duma—was established in 1906 after the Russian Revolution of 1905, but Tsar Nicholas II resisted attempts to move from absolute to constitutional monarchy. Social unrest continued and was aggravated during World War I by military defeat and food shortages in major cities.File:19191107-lenin second anniversary october revolution moscow.jpg|thumb|upright|left|Lenin, Trotsky and Kamenev celebrating the second anniversary of the October RevolutionOctober RevolutionA spontaneous popular uprising in Petrograd, in response to the wartime decay of Russia's economy and morale, culminated in the February Revolution and the toppling of the imperial government in March 1917. The tsarist autocracy was replaced by the Russian Provisional Government, which intended to conduct elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly and to continue fighting on the side of the Entente in World War I.At the same time, workers' councils, known in Russian as "Soviets", sprang up across the country. The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, pushed for socialist revolution in the Soviets and on the streets. On 7 November 1917, the Red Guards stormed the Winter Palace in Petrograd, ending the rule of the Provisional Government and leaving all political power to the Soviets. This event would later be officially known in Soviet bibliographies as the Great October Socialist Revolution. In December, the Bolsheviks signed an armistice with the Central Powers, though by February 1918, fighting had resumed. In March, the Soviets ended involvement in the war for good and signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.A long and bloody Civil War ensued between the Reds and the Whites, starting in 1917 and ending in 1923 with the Reds' victory. It included foreign intervention, the execution of the former tsar and his family, and the famine of 1921, which killed about five million people.BOOK, Evan Mawdsley, The Russian Civil War,weblink 1 March 2007, Pegasus Books, 978-1-933648-15-6, 287, In March 1921, during a related conflict with Poland, the Peace of Riga was signed, splitting disputed territories in Belarus and Ukraine between the Republic of Poland and Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia had to resolve similar conflicts with the newly established Republic of Finland, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, and the Republic of Lithuania.

Unification of republics

On 28 December 1922, a conference of plenipotentiary delegations from the Russian SFSR, the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR approved the Treaty on the Creation of the USSRRichard Sakwa The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, 1917–1991: 1917–1991. Routledge, 1999. {{ISBN|9780415122900}}. pp. 140–143. and the Declaration of the Creation of the USSR, forming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.Julian Towster. Political Power in the U.S.S.R., 1917–1947: The Theory and Structure of Government in the Soviet State Oxford Univ. Press, 1948. p. 106. These two documents were confirmed by the 1st Congress of Soviets of the USSR and signed by the heads of the delegations,{{ru icon}} Voted Unanimously for the Union. {{webarchive|url= |date=4 December 2009 }} Mikhail Kalinin, Mikhail Tskhakaya, Mikhail Frunze, Grigory Petrovsky, and Alexander Chervyakov,{{ru icon}} Creation of the USSR {{webarchive|url= |date=29 May 2007 }} at on 30 December 1922. The formal proclamation was made from the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.On 1 February 1924, the USSR was recognized by the United Kingdom. The same year, a Soviet Constitution was approved, legitimizing the December 1922 union.An intensive restructuring of the economy, industry and politics of the country began in the early days of Soviet power in 1917. A large part of this was done according to the Bolshevik Initial Decrees, government documents signed by Vladimir Lenin. One of the most prominent breakthroughs was the GOELRO plan, which envisioned a major restructuring of the Soviet economy based on total electrification of the country.The plan was developed in 1920 and covered a 10 to 15-year period. It included construction of a network of 30 regional power stations, including ten large hydroelectric power plants, and numerous electric-powered large industrial enterprises.JOURNAL, Lapin, G. G., Hydrotechnical Construction, 34, 8/9, 374–379, 10.1023/A:1004107617449, 2000, 70 Years of Gidroproekt and Hydroelectric Power in Russia, The plan became the prototype for subsequent Five-Year Plans and was fulfilled by 1931.{{ru icon}} On GOELRO Plan — at Kuzbassenergo. {{webarchive |url= |date=26 December 2008 }}

Stalin era

{{multiple image
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|footer = USSR in 1922 and 1936 {{small|(Russian SFSR in red)}}.
}}From its creation, the government in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks).The consolidation into a one-party regime took place during the first three and a half years after the revolution, which included the period of War communism and an election in which multiple parties competed. See Leonard Schapiro, The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase 1917–1922. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1955, 1966. After the economic policy of "War communism" during the Russian Civil War, as a prelude to fully developing socialism in the country, the Soviet government permitted some private enterprise to coexist alongside nationalized industry in the 1920s and total food requisition in the countryside was replaced by a food tax.The stated purpose of the one-party state was to ensure that capitalist exploitation would not return to the Soviet Union and that the principles of democratic centralism would be most effective in representing the people's will in a practical manner. Debate over the future of the economy provided the background for a power struggle in the years after Lenin's death in 1924. Initially, Lenin was to be replaced by a "troika" consisting of Grigory Zinoviev of the Ukrainian SSR, Lev Kamenev of the Russian SFSR, and Joseph Stalin of the Transcaucasian SFSR.On 3 April 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 Soviet Union and, by the end of the 1920s, established totalitarian rule. In October 1927, Grigory Zinoviev and Leon Trotsky were expelled from the Central Committee and forced into exile.{{Multiple image| image1 = Voroshilov, Molotov, Stalin, with Nikolai Yezhov.jpg| caption1 =| image2 = The Commissar Vanishes 2.jpg| caption2 =| width = 180Joseph Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov in a photo together, but after being executed Yezhov was Censorship of images in the Soviet Union>edited out of the image.| align = left| direction = vertical}}In 1928, Stalin introduced the first five-year plan for building a socialist economy. In place of the internationalism expressed by Lenin 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,BOOK, Lenin, V.I., Collected Works, 152–164, Vol. 31, "The proletarian state must effect the transition to collective farming with extreme caution and only very gradually, by the force of example, without any coercion of the middle peasant.", forced collectivization of farms was implemented all over the country.Famines ensued, causing millions of deaths; surviving kulaks were persecuted and many sent to Gulags to do forced labour.BOOK, Stéphane Courtois, Mark Kramer, Livre noir du Communisme: crimes, terreur, répression,weblink 15 October 1999, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-07608-2, 206, Social upheaval continued in the mid-1930s. Stalin's Great Purge resulted in the execution or detainment of many "Old Bolsheviks" who had participated in the October Revolution with Lenin. According to declassified Soviet archives, the NKVD arrested more than one and a half million people in 1937 and 1938, of whom 681,692 were shot. Over those two years there were an average of over one thousand executions a day.BOOK, Abbott Gleason, A companion to Russian history,weblink 2009, Wiley-Blackwell, 978-1-4051-3560-3, 373, According to historian Geoffrey Hosking, "...excess deaths during the 1930s as a whole were in the range of 10–11 million",BOOK, Geoffrey A. Hosking, Russia and the Russians: a history,weblink 2001, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-00473-3, 469, although historian Timothy D. Snyder claims that archival evidence suggests a maximum excess mortality of nine million during the entire Stalin era.Hitler vs. Stalin: Who Was Worse?, The New York Review of Books, 27 January 2011 Historian and archival researcher Stephen G. Wheatcroft asserts that around a million "purposive killings" can be attributed to Stalinist regime, along with the premature deaths of roughly two million more amongst the repressed populations (i.e., in camps, prisons, exile, etc.) through criminal negligence.{{sfn|Wheatcroft|1996|pp=1334,1348}} Despite the turmoil of the mid-to-late 1930s, the Soviet Union developed a powerful industrial economy in the years before World War II.File:Korolev posle aresta 1938.jpg|thumb|Sergei Korolev, the father of the Soviet space program, shortly after his arrest during Stalin's Great Terror ]]Under the doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, there was a "government-sponsored program of forced conversion to atheism" conducted by Communists.Religion and the State in Russia and China: Suppression, Survival, and Revival, by Christopher Marsh, page 47. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011.Inside Central Asia: A Political and Cultural History, by Dilip Hiro. Penguin, 2009.BOOK, Adappur, Abraham, Religion and the Cultural Crisis in India and the West,weblink 14 July 2016, 2000, Intercultural Publications, English, 9788185574479, Forced Conversion under Atheistic Regimes: It might be added that the most modern example of forced "conversions" came not from any theocratic state, but from a professedly atheist government — that of the Soviet Union under the Communists., The communist regime targeted religions based on State interests, and while most organized religions were never outlawed, religious property was confiscated, believers were harassed, and religion was ridiculed while atheism was propagated in schools.USGOV1 In 1925 the government founded the League of Militant Atheists to intensify the propaganda campaign.Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; p.494" Accordingly, although personal expressions of religious faith were not explicitly banned, a strong sense of social stigma was imposed on them by the official structures and mass media and it was generally considered unacceptable for members of certain professions (teachers, state bureaucrats, soldiers) to be openly religious. As for the Russian Orthodox Church, Soviet authorities sought to control it and, in times of national crisis, to exploit it for the regime's own purposes; but their ultimate goal was to eliminate it. During the first five years of Soviet power, the Bolsheviks executed 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and over 1,200 Russian Orthodox priests. Many others were imprisoned or exiled. Believers were harassed and persecuted. Most seminaries were closed, and the publication of most religious material was prohibited. By 1941 only 500 churches remained open out of about 54,000 in existence prior to World War I.


Closer cooperation between the Soviet Union and the West developed in the early 1930s. From 1932 to 1934, the Soviet Union participated in the World Disarmament Conference. In 1933, diplomatic relations between the United States and the USSR were established when in November the newly elected President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, chose to formally recognize Stalin's Communist government and negotiated a new trade agreement between the two nations.Ukrainian 'Holodomor' (man-made famine) Facts and History. (28 November 2006). Retrieved on 29 July 2013. In September 1934, the Soviet Union 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.File:“Strengthen working discipline in collective farms” – Uzbek, Tashkent, 1933 (Mardjani).jpg|thumb|"Strengthen working discipline in collective farms", a Soviet propaganda poster issued in Uzbekistan, 1933]]In December 1936, Stalin unveiled a new Soviet Constitution. Supporters around the world hailed it as the most democratic Constitution imaginable. Historian J. Arch Getty concludes:In 1939, the Soviet Union made a dramatic shift toward Nazi Germany. Almost a year after Britain and France had concluded the Munich Agreement with Germany, the Soviet Union made agreements with Germany as well, both militarily and economically during extensive talks. The two countries concluded the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the German–Soviet Commercial Agreement in August 1939. The nonaggression pact made possible Soviet occupation of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and eastern Poland. In late November, unable to coerce the Republic of Finland by diplomatic means into moving its border {{Convert|25|km}} back from Leningrad, Joseph Stalin ordered the invasion of Finland.In the east, the Soviet military won several decisive victories during border clashes with the Empire of Japan in 1938 and 1939. However, in April 1941, USSR signed the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact with the Japan, recognizing the territorial integrity of Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet state.

World War II

File:RIAN archive 44732 Soviet soldiers attack house.jpg|thumb|left|The Battle of StalingradBattle of StalingradAlthough it has been debated whether the Soviet Union intended to invade Germany once it was strong enough,{{ru icon}} Mel'tiukhov, Mikhail. Upushchennyi shans Stalina: Sovietskii Soiuz i bor'ba za Evropu 1939–1941. Moscow: Veche, 2000. {{ISBN|5-7838-1196-3}}. Germany itself broke the treaty and invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, starting what was known in the USSR as the "Great Patriotic War". The Red Army stopped the seemingly invincible German Army at the Battle of Moscow, aided by an unusually harsh winter. The Battle of Stalingrad, which lasted from late 1942 to early 1943, dealt a severe blow to the Germans from which they never fully recovered and became a turning point in the war. After Stalingrad, Soviet forces drove through Eastern Europe to Berlin before Germany surrendered in 1945. The German Army suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front.BOOK, William J. Duiker, Contemporary World History,weblink 31 August 2009, Wadsworth Pub Co, 978-0-495-57271-8, 128, The same year, the USSR, in fulfillment of its agreement with the Allies at the Yalta Conference, denounced the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact in April 1945Denunciation of the neutrality pact 5 April 1945. (Avalon Project at Yale University) and invaded Manchukuo and other Japan-controlled territories on 9 August 1945.Soviet Declaration of War on Japan, 8 August 1945. (Avalon Project at Yale University) This conflict ended with a decisive Soviet victory, contributing to the unconditional surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.File:Teheran conference-1943.jpg|thumb|{{small|Left to right:}} Soviet General Secretary Stalin, US President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill confer in Tehran in 1943.]]The Soviet Union suffered greatly in the war, losing around 27 million people.BOOK, Geoffrey A. Hosking, Rulers and victims: the Russians in the Soviet Union,weblink 2006, Harvard University Press, 978-0-674-02178-5, 242, Approximately 2.8 million Soviet POWs died of starvation, mistreatment, or executions in just eight months of 1941–42.Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (p. 290) — "2.8 million young, healthy Soviet POWs" killed by the Germans, "mainly by starvation ... in less than eight months" of 1941–42, before "the decimation of Soviet POWs ... was stopped" and the Germans "began to use them as laborers". During the war, the Soviet Union together with the United States, the United Kingdom and China were considered the Big Four Allied powers in World War II,BOOK, Brinkley, Douglas, Douglas Brinkley, The New York Times Living History: World War II, 1942–1945: The Allied Counteroffensive,weblink Macmillan, 2004, 978-0-8050-7247-1, 2003, and later became the Four Policemen, which formed the basis of the United Nations Security Council.BOOK, Urquhart, Brian, Brian Urquhart, Looking for the Sheriff, New York Review of Books, 16 July 1998, It emerged as a superpower in the post-war period. Once denied diplomatic recognition by the Western world, the Soviet Union had official relations with practically every nation by the late 1940s. A member of the United Nations at its foundation in 1945, the Soviet Union became one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, which gave it the right to veto any of its resolutions.Memorandum for the President's Special Assistant Harry Hopkins, Washington, D.C., August 10, 1943:}}The Soviet Union maintained its status as one of the world's two superpowers for four decades through its hegemony in Eastern Europe, military strength, economic strength, aid to developing countries, and scientific research, especially in space technology and weaponry.WEB,weblink The Soviet Union and the United States – Revelations from the Russian Archives {{!, Exhibitions – Library of Congress|date=15 June 1992||language=en|access-date=12 November 2017}}

Cold War

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B0121-0010-050, Berlin, VI. SED-Parteitag, 6.Tag.jpg|thumb|Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Podgorny and Walter Ulbricht in Berlin, East GermanyEast GermanyDuring the immediate postwar period, the Soviet Union rebuilt and expanded its economy, while maintaining its strictly centralized control. It took effective control over most of the countries of Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia and Albania), turning them into satellite states. The Soviet Union bound its satellite states in a military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, in 1955, and an economic organization, The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance or Comecon, a counterpart to the European Economic Community, from 1949 to 1991.WEB,weblink Main Intelligence Administration (GRU) Glavnoye Razvedovatel'noye Upravlenie – Russia / Soviet Intelligence Agencies,, 24 November 2008, The Soviet Union concentrated on its own recovery, seizing and transferring most of Germany's industrial plants, and it exacted war reparations from East Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria using Soviet-dominated joint enterprises. It also instituted trading arrangements deliberately designed to favor the Soviet Union. Moscow controlled the Communist parties that ruled the satellite states, and they followed orders from the Kremlin. Historian Mark Kramer concludes:}}Later, the Comecon supplied aid to the eventually victorious Communist Party of China, and its influence grew elsewhere in the world. Fearing its ambitions, the Soviet Union's wartime allies, the United Kingdom and the United States, became its enemies. In the ensuing Cold War, the two sides clashed indirectly in proxy wars.

Khrushchev era

File:John Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev 1961.jpg|thumb|Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (left) with John F. KennedyJohn F. KennedyStalin died on 5 March 1953. Without a mutually agreeable successor, the highest Communist Party officials initially opted to rule the Soviet Union jointly through a troika headed by Georgy Malenkov. This did not last, however, and Nikita Khrushchev eventually won the ensuing power struggle by the mid-1950s. In 1956 he denounced Stalin's use of repression and proceeded to ease controls over party and society. This was known as de-Stalinization.File:Soviet empire 1960.png|thumb|left|Map showing greatest territorial extent of the Soviet Union and states it dominated politically, economically and/or militarily, in 1960, after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 but before the official Sino-Soviet splitSino-Soviet splitMoscow considered Eastern Europe to be a critically vital buffer zone for the forward defense of its western borders, in case of another major invasion such as the German invasion of 1941. For this reason, the USSR sought to cement its control of the region by transforming the Eastern European countries into satellite states, dependent upon and subservient to its leadership. Soviet military force was used to suppress anti-Stalinist uprisings in Hungary and Poland in 1956.In the late 1950s, a confrontation with China regarding the USSR's rapprochement with the West, and what Mao Zedong perceived as Khrushchev's revisionism, led to the Sino–Soviet split. This resulted in a break throughout the global Marxist–Leninist movement, with the governments in Albania, Cambodia and Somalia choosing to ally with China in place of the USSR.During this period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Soviet Union continued to realize scientific and technological exploits in the Space Race, rivaling the United States: launching the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 in 1957; a living dog named Laika in 1957; the first human being, Yuri Gagarin in 1961; the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963; Alexey Leonov, the first person to walk in space in 1965; the first soft landing on the moon by spacecraft Luna 9 in 1966; and the first moon rovers, Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2.EPISODE, Tank on the Moon, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, CBC-TV, 6 December 2007,weblink yes,weblink" title="">weblink 26 December 2008, File:Gagarin in Sweden-2.jpg|thumb|Soviet cosmonaut Yuri GagarinYuri GagarinKhrushchev initiated "The Thaw", a complex shift in political, cultural and economic life in the Soviet Union. This included some openness and contact with other nations and new social and economic policies with more emphasis on commodity goods, allowing living standards to rise dramatically while maintaining high levels of economic growth. Censorship was relaxed as well.Khrushchev's reforms in agriculture and administration, however, were generally unproductive. In 1962, he precipitated a crisis with the United States over the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. An agreement was made between the Soviet Union and the United States to remove enemy nuclear missiles from both Cuba and Turkey, concluding the crisis. This event caused Khrushchev much embarrassment and loss of prestige, resulting in his removal from power in 1964.

Era of Stagnation

The Era of Stagnation was a period of negative economic, political, and social effects in the Soviet Union, which began during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev and continued under Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko.Following the ousting of Khrushchev, another period of collective leadership ensued, consisting of Leonid Brezhnev as General Secretary, Alexei Kosygin as Premier and Nikolai Podgorny as Chairman of the Presidium, lasting until Brezhnev established himself in the early 1970s as the preeminent Soviet leader.File:Carter Brezhnev sign SALT II.jpg|thumb|Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev and US President Jimmy Carter sign the SALT II arms limitation treaty in ViennaViennaIn 1968, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to halt the Prague Spring reforms. In the aftermath, Brezhnev justified the invasion along with the earlier invasions of Eastern European states by introducing the Brezhnev Doctrine, which claimed the right of the Soviet Union to violate the sovereignty of any country that attempted to replace Marxism–Leninism with capitalism.Brezhnev presided over a period of détente with the West that resulted in treaties on armament control (SALT I, SALT II, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty) while at the same time building up Soviet military might.In October 1977, the third Soviet Constitution was unanimously adopted. The prevailing mood of the Soviet leadership at the time of Brezhnev's death in 1982 was one of aversion to change. The long period of Brezhnev's rule had come to be dubbed one of "standstill", with an aging and ossified top political leadership.

Gorbachev era

File:Reagan and Gorbachev hold discussions.jpg|thumb|left|Mikhail Gorbachev in one-to-one discussions with US President Ronald ReaganRonald ReaganTwo developments dominated the decade that followed: the increasingly apparent crumbling of the Soviet Union's economic and political structures, and the patchwork attempts at reforms to reverse that process. Kenneth S. Deffeyes argued in Beyond Oil that the Reagan administration encouraged Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil to the point where the Soviets could not make a profit selling their oil, so the USSR's hard currency reserves became depleted.Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Beyond Oil: The View from Hubbert's Peak.Brezhnev's next two successors, transitional figures with deep roots in his tradition, did not last long. Yuri Andropov was 68 years old and Konstantin Chernenko 72 when they assumed power; both died in less than two years. In an attempt to avoid a third short-lived leader, in 1985, the Soviets turned to the next generation and selected Mikhail Gorbachev.Gorbachev made significant changes in the economy and party leadership, called perestroika. His policy of glasnost freed public access to information after decades of heavy government censorship.File:Gorbachev and Reagan 1988-4.jpg|thumb|Reagan greets a young boy while touring Red Square with Gorbachev during the Moscow Summit, 31 May 1988]]Gorbachev also moved to end the Cold War. In 1988, the Soviet Union abandoned its nine-year war in Afghanistan and began to withdraw its forces. In the late 1980s, {{clarify span|he refused military support to the governments of the Soviet Union's satellite states|date=August 2014}}, which paved the way for Revolutions of 1989. With the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and with East Germany and West Germany pursuing unification, the Iron Curtain between the West and Soviet-controlled regions came down.In the late 1980s, the constituent republics of the Soviet Union started legal moves towards potentially declaring sovereignty over their territories, citing Article 72 of the USSR constitution, which stated that any constituent republic was free to secede.weblink" title="">The red blues — Soviet politics by Brian Crozier, National Review, 25 June 1990. {{dead link|date=June 2016|bot=medic}}{{cbignore|bot=medic}} On 7 April 1990, a law was passed allowing a republic to secede if more than two-thirds of its residents voted for it in a referendum.Origins of Moral-Ethical Crisis and Ways to Overcome it by V.A.Drozhin Honoured Lawyer of Russia. Many held their first free elections in the Soviet era for their own national legislatures in 1990. Many of these legislatures proceeded to produce legislation contradicting the Union laws in what was known as the "War of Laws".In 1989, the Russian SFSR, which was then the largest constituent republic (with about half of the population) convened a newly elected Congress of People's Deputies. Boris Yeltsin was elected its chairman. On 12 June 1990, the Congress declared Russia's sovereignty over its territory and proceeded to pass laws that attempted to supersede some of the USSR's laws. After a landslide victory of Sąjūdis in Lithuania, that country declared its independence restored on 11 March 1990.A referendum for the preservation of the USSR was held on 17 March 1991 in nine republics (the remainder having boycotted the vote), with the majority of the population in those nine republics voting for preservation of the Union. The referendum gave Gorbachev a minor boost. In the summer of 1991, the New Union Treaty, which would have turned the Soviet Union into a much looser Union, was agreed upon by eight republics.File:Boris Yeltsin 19 August 1991-1.jpg|thumb|Boris Yeltsin stands on a tank in Moscow to defy the August Coup, 1991]]The signing of the treaty, however, was interrupted by the August Coup—an attempted coup d'état by hardline members of the government and the KGB who sought to reverse Gorbachev's reforms and reassert the central government's control over the republics. After the coup collapsed, Yeltsin was seen as a hero for his decisive actions, while Gorbachev's power was effectively ended. The balance of power tipped significantly towards the republics. In August 1991, Latvia and Estonia immediately declared the restoration of their full independence (following Lithuania's 1990 example). Gorbachev resigned as general secretary in late August, and soon afterward the Party's activities were indefinitely suspended—effectively ending its rule. By the fall, Gorbachev could no longer influence events outside Moscow, and he was being challenged even there by Yeltsin, who had been elected President of Russia in July 1991.


The remaining 12 republics continued discussing new, increasingly looser, models of the Union. However, by December all except Russia and Kazakhstan had formally declared independence. During this time, Yeltsin took over what remained of the Soviet government, including the Moscow Kremlin. The final blow was struck on 1 December when Ukraine, the second most powerful republic, voted overwhelmingly for independence. Ukraine's secession ended any realistic chance of the Soviet Union staying together even on a limited scale.File:Cold War border changes.png|thumb|Changes in national boundaries after the end of the Cold WarCold WarOn 8 December 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (formerly Byelorussia), signed the Belavezha Accords, which declared the Soviet Union dissolved and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place. While doubts remained over the authority of the accords to do this, on 21 December 1991, the representatives of all Soviet republics except Georgia signed the Alma-Ata Protocol, which confirmed the accords. On 25 December 1991, Gorbachev resigned as the President of the USSR, declaring the office extinct. He turned the powers that had been vested in the presidency over to Yeltsin. That night, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time, and the Russian tricolor was raised in its place.The following day, the Supreme Soviet, the highest governmental body of the Soviet Union, voted both itself and the Soviet Union out of existence. This is generally recognized as marking the official, final dissolution of the Soviet Union as a functioning state.BOOK,weblink Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States: Documents, Data, and Analysis, 978-1563246371, Brzezinski, Zbigniew, Brzezinski, Zbigniew K, Sullivan, Paige, 1997, The Soviet Army originally remained under overall CIS command, but was soon absorbed into the different military forces of the newly independent states. The few remaining Soviet institutions that had not been taken over by Russia ceased to function by the end of 1991.Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26 December 1991, Russia was internationally recognizedCountry Profile: Russia Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom. {{webarchive |url= |date=11 March 2008 }} as its legal successor on the international stage. To that end, Russia voluntarily accepted all Soviet foreign debt and claimed overseas Soviet properties as its own. Under the 1992 Lisbon Protocol, Russia also agreed to receive all nuclear weapons remaining in the territory of other former Soviet republics. Since then, the Russian Federation has assumed the Soviet Union's rights and obligations. Ukraine has refused to recognize exclusive Russian claims to succession of the USSR and claimed such status for Ukraine as well, which was codified in Articles 7 and 8 of its 1991 law On Legal Succession of Ukraine. Since its independence in 1991, Ukraine has continued to pursue claims against Russia in foreign courts, seeking to recover its share of the foreign property that was owned by the USSR.File:Refugeesaz.jpg|thumb|Internally displaced AzerbaijanAzerbaijanFile:USSR - Then and Now.png|thumb|Country emblems of the Soviet Republics before and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (note that the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist RepublicTranscaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist RepublicThe dissolution of the Soviet Union was followed by a severe economic contraction and catastrophic fall in living standards in post-Soviet states"Child poverty soars in eastern Europe", BBC News, 11 October 2000 including a rapid increase in poverty,BOOK, McAaley, Alastair, Russia and the Baltics: Poverty and Poverty Research in a Changing World,weblink 18 July 2016,weblink" title="">weblink 23 January 2017, yes, dmy-all, WEB, An epidemic of street kids overwhelms Russian cities,weblink The Globe and Mail, 17 July 2016, BOOK, Targ, Harry, Challenging Late Capitalism, Neoliberal Globalization, & Militarism, 2006, crime,Theodore P. Gerber & Michael Hout, "More Shock than Therapy: Market Transition, Employment, and Income in Russia, 1991–1995", AJS Volume 104 Number 1 (July 1998): 1–50.WEB, Volkov, Vladimir, The bitter legacy of Boris Yeltsin (1931–2007),weblink corruption,WEB,weblink Cops for hire, Economist, 2010, 4 December 2015, WEB,weblink Corruption Perceptions Index 2014, Transparency International, 18 July 2016, unemployment,BOOK, Hardt, John, Russia's Uncertain Economic Future: With a Comprehensive Subject Index, 2003, M. E Sharpe, 481, homelessness,BOOK, Alexander, Catharine, Buchil, Victor, Humphrey, Caroline, Urban Life in Post-Soviet Asia, 12 September 2007, CRC Press, BOOK, Smorodinskaya, Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Russian, Routledge, rates of disease,JOURNAL, Galazkaa, Artur, Implications of the Diphtheria Epidemic in the Former Soviet Union for Immunization Programs, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 181, 244–248, 10.1086/315570, 10657222,weblink 2000, WEB, Shubnikov, Eugene, Non-communicable Diseases and Former Soviet Union countries,weblink 18 July 2016, WEB, Wharton, Melinda, Vitek, Charles, Diphtheria in the Former Soviet Union: Reemergence of a Pandemic Disease,weblink CDC: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 July 2016, demographic losses,NEWS, Hudson, Michael, Sommers, Jeffrey, 20 December 2010, Latvia provides no magic solution for indebted economies,weblink The Guardian, Michael Hudson (economist), 24 October 2017, "Neoliberal austerity has created demographic losses exceeding Stalin's deportations back in the 1940s (although without the latter's loss of life). As government cutbacks in education, healthcare and other basic social infrastructure threaten to undercut long-term development, young people are emigrating to better their lives rather than suffer in an economy without jobs. More than 12% of the overall population (and a much larger percentage of its labour force) now works abroad.", income inequality and the rise of an oligarchical class,BOOK, Hoepller, C, Russian Demographics: The Role of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 2011,weblink BOOK, Scheidel, Walter, Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2017, 978-0-691-16502-8, 51 & 222–223, along with decreases in calorie intake, life expectancy, adult literacy, and income.WEB, Poland, Marshall, Russian Economy in the Aftermath of the Collapse of the Soviet Union,weblink 18 July 2016, Between 1988/1989 and 1993/1995, the Gini ratio increased by an average of 9 points for all former socialist countries. The economic shocks that accompanied wholesale privatization were associated with sharp increases in mortality. Data shows Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia saw a tripling of unemployment and a 42% increase in male death rates between 1991 and 1994.David Stuckler, Lawrence King, and Martin McKee. "Mass privatisation and the post-communist mortality crisis: a cross-national analysis." The Lancet 373.9661 (2009): 399–407.Privatisation 'raised death rate'. BBC, 15 January 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2014. In the following decades, only five or six of the post-communist states are on a path to joining the wealthy capitalist West while most are falling behind, some to such an extent that it will take over fifty years to catch up to where they were before the fall of the Soviet Bloc.BOOK, Ghodsee, Kristen, 2017, Red Hangover: Legacies of Twentieth-Century Communism,weblink Duke University Press, 63, 978-0-8223-6949-3, Kristen R. Ghodsee, JOURNAL, 10.1080/05775132.2015.1012402, After the Wall Fell: The Poor Balance Sheet of the Transition to Capitalism, Challenge (economics magazine), Challenge, 58, 2, 135–138, 2015, Milanović, Branko, Branko Milanović, In summing up the international ramifications of these events, Vladislav Zubok stated: "The collapse of the Soviet empire was an event of epochal geopolitical, military, ideological, and economic significanceBOOK,weblink A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, Vladislav M., Zubok, 1 February 2009, Univ of North Carolina Press, 1 December 2017, Google Books, 978-0-8078-9905-2,

Post-Soviet states

The analysis of the succession of states with respect to the 15 post-Soviet states is complex. The Russian Federation is seen as the legal continuator state and is for most purposes the heir to the Soviet Union. It retained ownership of all former Soviet embassy properties, as well as the old Soviet UN membership and permanent membership on the Security Council.There are additionally four states that claim independence from the other internationally recognized post-Soviet states, but possess limited international recognition: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. The Chechen separatist movement of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria lacks any international recognition.

Foreign affairs


File:Cuba-Russia friendship poster.jpg|thumb|1960s Cuba-Soviet friendship poster with Fidel CastroFidel CastroFile:President Ford informally concludes the Vladivostok Summit - NARA - 7062568.jpg|thumb|Gerald Ford, Leonid Brezhnev and Henry Kissinger speaking informally at the Vladivostok Summit in 1974]]File:RIAN archive 330109 Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George Bush.jpg|thumb|Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush signing bilateral documents during Gorbachev's official visit to the United StatesUnited StatesStalin always made the final policy decisions, 1925–1953. Otherwise Soviet foreign policy was set by the Commission on the Foreign Policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or by the Party's highest body the Politburo. Operations were handled by the separate Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was known as the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (or Narkomindel), until 1946. The most influential spokesmen were Georgy Chicherin (1872–1936), Maxim Litvinov (1876–1951), Vyacheslav Molotov (1890–1986), Andrey Vyshinsky (1883–1954) and Andrei Gromyko (1909–1989). Intellectuals were based in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.Adam B. Ulam, Expansion and coexistence: the history of Soviet foreign policy, 1917–73 (1974)
  • Comintern (1919–1943), or Communist International, was an international communist organization based in the Kremlin that advocated world communism. The Comintern intended to "struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state".BOOK, Harold Henry Fisher, The Communist Revolution: An Outline of Strategy and Tactics,weblink 1955, Stanford UP, 13, It was abolished as a conciliatory measure toward Britain and the United States.Duncan Hallas, The Comintern: The History of the Third International (1985).
  • Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Russian: Совет Экономической Взаимопомощи, Sovet Ekonomicheskoy Vzaimopomoshchi, СЭВ, SEV) was an economic organization from 1949 to 1991 under Soviet control that comprised the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world. Moscow was concerned about the Marshall Plan and Comecon was meant to prevent countries in the Soviets' sphere of influence from moving towards that of the Americans and South-East Asia. Comecon was the Eastern Bloc's reply to the formation in Western Europe of the Organization for European Economic Co-Operation (OEEC),"Germany (East)", Library of Congress Country Study, Appendix B: The Council for Mutual Economic AssistanceMichael C. Kaser, Comecon: Integration problems of the planned economies (Oxford University Press, 1967).
  • The Warsaw Pact was a collective defence alliance formed in 1955 among the Soviet Union and seven Soviet satellite states of Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The Warsaw Pact was the military complement to the Comecon, the regional economic organization for the socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO.Laurien Crump, The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955–1969 (Routledge, 2015).
  • The Cominform (1947–1956), informally the Communist Information Bureau and officially the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers' Parties, was the first official agency of the international communist movement since the dissolution of the Comintern in 1943. Its role was to coordinate actions between communist parties under Soviet direction. Stalin used it to order Western European communist parties to abandon their exclusively parliamentarian line and instead concentrate on politically impeding the operations of the Marshall Plan.MichaÅ‚ Jerzy Zacharias, "The Beginnings of the Cominform: The Policy of the Soviet Union towards European Communist Parties in Connection with the Political Initiatives of the United States of America in 1947." Acta Poloniae Historica 78 (1998): 161-200. It also coordinated international aid to communist insurgents during the Greek Civil War in 1947–1949.Nikos Marantzidis, "The Greek Civil War (1944–1949) and the International Communist System." Journal of Cold War Studies 15.4 (2013): 25-54. It expelled Yugoslavia in 1948 after Josip Broz Tito insisted on an independent program. Its newspaper, For a Lasting Peace, for a People's Democracy!, promoted Stalin's positions. The Cominform's concentration on Europe meant a deemphasis on world revolution in Soviet foreign policy. By enunciating a uniform ideology, it allowed the constituent parties to focus on personalities rather than issues.Heinz Timmermann, "The cominform effects on Soviet foreign policy." Studies in Comparative Communism 18.1 (1985): 3-23.

Early Soviet foreign policies (1919–1939)

{{further|International relations (1919–1939)#Soviet Union}}(File:1987 CPA 5896.jpg|thumb|upright|1987 Soviet stamp)The Communist leadership the Soviet Union intensely debated foreign policy issues and change directions several times. Even after Stalin assumed dictatorial control in the late 1920s, there were debates and he frequently changed positions.Ulam, Expansion and Coexistence (1974) pp 111-79.The first stage (1917–1921), assumed that Communist revolutions would break out very soon in every major industrial country, and it was the Soviet responsibility to assist them. The Comintern was the weapon of choice. A few revolutions did break out, but they were quickly suppressed (the longest lasting one was in Hungary)—the Hungarian Soviet Republic—lasted only from 21 March 1919 to 1 August 1919. The Russian Bolsheviks were in no position to give any help.By 1921, the second stage came with the realization by Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin that capitalism had stabilized itself in Europe and there would not be any widespread revolutions anytime soon. It became the duty of the Russian Bolsheviks to protect what they had in Russia, and avoid military confrontations that might destroy their bridgehead. Russia was now in it a pariah state, along with Germany. The two came to terms in 1922 with the Treaty of Rapallo that settled long-standing grievances. At the same time the two countries secretly set up training programs for illegal German army and air force operations at hidden camps in the Soviet Union.Gordon H. Mueller, "Rapallo Reexamined: a new look at Germany's secret military collaboration with Russia in 1922." Military Affairs: The Journal of Military History (1976): 109-117. onlineAt the same time, Moscow stopped threatening other states, and instead worked to open peaceful relationships in terms of trade, and diplomatic recognition. United Kingdom, dismissed the warnings of Winston Churchill and a few others about a continuing communist threat, and opened trade relations and de facto diplomatic recognition in 1922. There was hope for a settlement of the prewar tsarist debts, but that issue was repeatedly postponed. Formal recognition came when the new Labour Party came to power in 1924.Christine A. White, British and American Commercial Relations with Soviet Russia, 1918–1924 (UNC Press Books, 2017). All the other major countries opened trade relationships. Henry Ford opened large-scale business relationships with the Soviets in the late 1920s, hoping it would lead to a long-term peace. Finally, in 1933, the United States officially recognized the Soviet Union, a decision backed by public opinion and especially by American business interests that expected a new profitable market would open up.Joan Hoff Wilson, "American Business and the Recognition of the Soviet Union." Social Science Quarterly (1971): 349-368. onlineA third stage came in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Stalin ordered Communist parties across the world to strongly oppose non-communist political parties, labor unions or other organizations on the left. Stalin reversed himself in 1934 with the Popular Front program the called on all Communist parties to join together with all anti-Fascist political, labor, and organizational forces that were opposed to fascism, especially of the Nazi variety.Chris Ward, Stalin's Russia (2nd ed. 1999) pp 148-88.Barbara Jelavich, St.Petersburg and Moscow: Czarist and Soviet Foreign Policy, 1814–1974 (1974) pp 342-46.

World War II era (1939–1945)

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Cold War era (1945–1991)

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{{Marxism–Leninism sidebar|expanded=History}}There were three power hierarchies in the Soviet Union: the legislature represented by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, the government represented by the Council of Ministers, and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the only legal party and the ultimate policymaker in the country.Sakwa, Richard. Soviet Politics in Perspective. 2nd ed. London – N.Y.: Routledge, 1998.

Communist Party

At the top of the Communist Party was the Central Committee, elected at Party Congresses and Conferences. The Central Committee in turn voted for a Politburo (called the Presidium between 1952–1966), Secretariat and the General Secretary (First Secretary from 1953 to 1966), the de facto highest office in the Soviet Union.BOOK, Law, David A., Russian Civilization, Ardent Media, 1975, 193–94,weblink 978-0-8422-0529-0, Depending on the degree of power consolidation, it was either the Politburo as a collective body or the General Secretary, who always was one of the Politburo members, that effectively led the party and the countryBOOK, Zemtsov, Ilya, Chernenko: The Last Bolshevik: The Soviet Union on the Eve of Perestroika, Transaction Publishers, 1989, 325,weblink 978-0-88738-260-4, (except for the period of the highly personalized authority of Stalin, exercised directly through his position in the Council of Ministers rather than the Politburo after 1941).BOOK, Knight, Amy, Beria: Stalin's First Lieutenant, Princeton University Press, 1995, 5,weblink 978-0-691-01093-9, They were not controlled by the general party membership, as the key principle of the party organization was democratic centralism, demanding strict subordination to higher bodies, and elections went uncontested, endorsing the candidates proposed from above.BOOK, Hough, Jerry F., Fainsod, Merle, How the Soviet Union is Governed, Harvard University Press, 1979, 486,weblink 978-0-674-41030-5, The Communist Party maintained its dominance over the state largely through its control over the system of appointments. All senior government officials and most deputies of the Supreme Soviet were members of the CPSU. Of the party heads themselves, Stalin in 1941–1953 and Khrushchev in 1958–1964 were Premiers. Upon the forced retirement of Khrushchev, the party leader was prohibited from this kind of double membership,BOOK, Service, Robert, History of Modern Russia: From Tsarism to the Twenty-first Century, Penguin Books Ltd, 2009,weblink 978-0-14-103797-4, 378, Robert Service (historian), but the later General Secretaries for at least some part of their tenure occupied the largely ceremonial position of Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the nominal head of state. The institutions at lower levels were overseen and at times supplanted by primary party organizations.BOOK, Конститутион оф тхе Руссиян Федератион: витх комментариес анд интерпретатион, Brunswick Publishing Corp, 1994,weblink 978-1-55618-142-9, 82, However, in practice the degree of control the party was able to exercise over the state bureaucracy, particularly after the death of Stalin, was far from total, with the bureaucracy pursuing different interests that were at times in conflict with the party.BOOK, Ōgushi, Atsushi, The Demise of the Soviet Communist Party, Routledge, 2008, 31–32,weblink 978-0-415-43439-3, Nor was the party itself monolithic from top to bottom, although factions were officially banned.BOOK, Taras, Ray, Raymond Taras, Leadership change in Communist states, Routledge, 1989,weblink 978-0-04-445277-5, 132,


File:Supreme Soviet 1982.jpg|thumb|left|The Grand Kremlin Palace, seat of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet UnionSupreme Soviet of the Soviet UnionThe Supreme Soviet (successor of the Congress of Soviets and Central Executive Committee) was nominally the highest state body for most of the Soviet history,BOOK, F. Triska, Jan, Slusser, Robert M., The Theory, Law, and Policy of Soviet Treaties, Stanford University Press, 1962, 63–64,weblink 978-0-8047-0122-8, at first acting as a rubber stamp institution, approving and implementing all decisions made by the party. However, the powers and functions of the Supreme Soviet were extended in the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, including the creation of new state commissions and committees. It gained additional powers relating to the approval of the Five-Year Plans and the Soviet government budget.BOOK, Deb, Kalipada, Soviet Union to Commonwealth: Transformation and Challenges, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd, 1996, 81,weblink 978-81-85880-95-2, The Supreme Soviet elected a Presidium to wield its power between plenary sessions, ordinarily held twice a year, and appointed the Supreme Court,BOOK, The Communist World, Ardent Media, 2001, 441,weblink 978-0-271-02170-6, the Procurator GeneralBOOK, Joseph Marie Feldbrugge, Ferdinand, Russian Law: The End of the Soviet System and the Role of Law, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1993, 205,weblink 978-0-7923-2358-7, and the Council of Ministers (known before 1946 as the Council of People's Commissars), headed by the Chairman (Premier) and managing an enormous bureaucracy responsible for the administration of the economy and society.BOOK, Benson, Shirley, Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower, Penn State University Press, 2001, XIV,weblink 978-0-271-02170-6, State and party structures of the constituent republics largely emulated the structure of the central institutions, although the Russian SFSR, unlike the other constituent republics, for most of its history had no republican branch of the CPSU, being ruled directly by the union-wide party until 1990. Local authorities were organized likewise into party committees, local Soviets and executive committees. While the state system was nominally federal, the party was unitary.BOOK, White, Stephen, J. Gill, Graeme, Slider, Darrell, The Politics of Transition: Shaping a post-Soviet Future, Cambridge University Press, 1993, 108,weblink 978-0-521-44634-1, The state security police (the KGB and its predecessor agencies) played an important role in Soviet politics. It was instrumental in the Stalinist terror,BOOK, P. Hoffmann, Erik, Laird, Robin Frederick, The Soviet Polity in the Modern Era, Transaction Publishers, 1984, 313–315,weblink 978-0-202-24165-4, but after the death of Stalin, the state security police was brought under strict party control. Under Yuri Andropov, KGB chairman in 1967–1982 and General Secretary from 1982 to 1984, the KGB engaged in the suppression of political dissent and maintained an extensive network of informers, reasserting itself as a political actor to some extent independent of the party-state structure,BOOK, P. Hoffmann, Erik, Laird, Robin Frederick, The Soviet Polity in the Modern Era, Transaction Publishers, 1984, 315–319,weblink 978-0-202-24165-4, culminating in the anti-corruption campaign targeting high party officials in the late 1970s and early 1980s.JOURNAL, The Soviet Polity in the Modern Era, Great Russian Encyclopedia, 2005, 1, 742,

Separation of power and reform

File:RIAN archive 699872 Dushanbe riots, February 1990.jpg|thumb|Nationalist anti-government riots in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 1990]]The Union constitutions, which were promulgated in 1918, 1924, 1936 and 1977,BOOK, Sakwa, Richard, Soviet Politics in Perspective, Routledge, 1998,weblink 978-0-415-07153-6, 106, Richard Sakwa, did not limit state power. No formal separation of powers existed between the Party, Supreme Soviet and Council of MinistersBOOK, Kucherov, Samuel, The Organs of Soviet Administration of Justice: Their History and Operation, Brill Publishers, Brill Archive Publishers, 1970,weblink 31, that represented executive and legislative branches of the government. The system was governed less by statute than by informal conventions, and no settled mechanism of leadership succession existed. Bitter and at times deadly power struggles took place in the Politburo after the deaths of LeninBOOK, Phillips, Steve, Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Heinemann (book publisher), Heinemann, 2000,weblink 978-0-435-32719-4, 71, and Joseph Stalin,BOOK, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2005, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1014, as well as after Khrushchev's dismissal,BOOK, Service, Robert, History of Modern Russia: From Tsarism to the Twenty-first Century, Penguin Books Ltd, 2009,weblink 379, 978-0-14-103797-4, Robert Service (historian), itself due to a decision by both the Politburo and the Central Committee. All leaders of the Communist Party before Gorbachev died in office, except Georgy MalenkovBOOK, Polley, Martin, A–Z of modern Europe since 1789, Routledge, 2000,weblink 978-0-415-18597-4, 88, and Khrushchev, both dismissed from the party leadership amid internal struggle within the party.BOOK, Khrushchev, Nikita, 2007, Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev, Volume 3: Statesman, Pennsylvania State University Press, 978-0-271-02935-1, 674, Nikita Khrushchev, Between 1988 and 1990, facing considerable opposition, Mikhail Gorbachev enacted reforms shifting power away from the highest bodies of the party and making the Supreme Soviet less dependent on them. The Congress of People's Deputies was established, the majority of whose members were directly elected in competitive elections held in March 1989. The Congress now elected the Supreme Soviet, which became a full-time parliament, much stronger than before. For the first time since the 1920s, it refused to rubber stamp proposals from the party and Council of Ministers.WEB, Library of Congress Country Studies, Gorbachev's Reform Dilemma,weblink 16 October 2010, In 1990, Gorbachev introduced and assumed the position of the President of the Soviet Union, concentrated power in his executive office, independent of the party, and subordinated the government,BOOK, Polmar, Norman, The Naval Institute Guide to the Soviet, United States Naval Institute, 1991,weblink 978-0-87021-241-3, 1, now renamed the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR, to himself.BOOK, McCauley, Martin, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, Pearson Education, 2007,weblink 978-0-582-78465-9, 490, Tensions grew between the union-wide authorities under Gorbachev, reformists led in Russia by Boris Yeltsin and controlling the newly elected Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR, and communist hardliners. On 19–21 August 1991, a group of hardliners staged an abortive coup attempt. Following the failed coup, the State Council of the Soviet Union became the highest organ of state power "in the period of transition".WEB, Government of the USSR: Mikhail Gorbachev, Gorbachev, Mikhail, ru:УКАЗ: ПОЛОЖЕНИЕ О МИНИСТЕРСТВЕ ЮСТИЦИИ СССР, Law: About state governing bodies of USSR in a transition period On the bodies of state authority and administration of the USSR in Transition,weblink 21 March 1972,, Russian, Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary, only remaining President for the final months of the existence of the USSR.BOOK, Vincent Daniels, Robert, A Documentary History of Communism in Russia: From Lenin to Gorbachev, University Press of New England (UPNE), 1993,weblink 978-0-87451-616-6, 388,

Judicial system

{{See also|Socialist law}}The judiciary was not independent of the other branches of government. The Supreme Court supervised the lower courts (People's Court) and applied the law as established by the Constitution or as interpreted by the Supreme Soviet. The Constitutional Oversight Committee reviewed the constitutionality of laws and acts. The Soviet Union used the inquisitorial system of Roman law, where the judge, procurator, and defense attorney collaborate to establish the truth.WEB, Encyclopædia Britannica,weblink Inquisitorial procedure (law) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 October 2010,

Administrative divisions

Constitutionally, the USSR was a federation of constituent Union Republics, which were either unitary states, such as Ukraine or Byelorussia (SSRs), or federal states, such as Russia or Transcaucasia (SFSRs), all four being the founding republics who signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR in December 1922. In 1924, during the national delimitation in Central Asia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were formed from parts of the Russia's Turkestan ASSR and two Soviet dependencies, the Khorezm and Bukharan SSRs. In 1929, Tajikistan was split off from the Uzbekistan SSR. With the constitution of 1936, the Transcaucasian SFSR was dissolved, resulting in its constituent republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan being elevated to Union Republics, while Kazakhstan and Kirghizia were split off from Russian SFSR, resulting in the same status.BOOK, Adams, Simon, Russian Republics,weblink 2005, 21, Black Rabbit Books, 978-1-58340-606-9, In August 1940, Moldavia was formed from parts of the Ukraine and Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (SSRs) were also admitted into the union which was not recognized by most of the international community and was considered an illegal occupation. Karelia was split off from Russia as a Union Republic in March 1940 and was reabsorbed in 1956. Between July 1956 and September 1991, there were 15 union republics (see map below).BOOK, Feldbrugge, Ferdinand Joseph Maria, Russian Law: The Rnd of the Soviet system and the Role of Law,weblink 1993, 94, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 978-0-7923-2358-7, While nominally a union of equals, in practice the Soviet Union was dominated by Russians. The domination was so absolute that for most of the Soviet Union's existence, it was commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as "Russia". While the RSFSR was technically only one republic within the larger union, it was by far the largest (both in terms of population and geography), most powerful, and most highly developed. Historian Matthew White wrote that it was an open secret that the Soviet Union's federal structure was "window dressing" for Russian dominance. For that reason, the people of the Soviet Union were usually called "Russians", not "Soviets", since "everyone knew who really ran the show".BOOK, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, White, Matthew, Matthew White (atrocitologist), W. W. Norton, 2012, 368, 978-0-393-08192-3, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things, {|class="wikitable" style="margin: 1em auto 1em auto;"! #! Republic! Map of the Union Republics between 1956–1991| 1Russian SFSR}} (File:Republics of the USSR.svg|600px)| 2Ukrainian SSR}}| 3Byelorussian SSR}}| 4Uzbek SSR}}| 5Kazakh SSR}}| 6Georgian SSR}}| 7Azerbaijan SSR}}| 8Lithuanian SSR}}| 9Moldavian SSR}}| 10Latvian SSR}}| 11Kirghiz SSR}}| 12Tajik SSR}}| 13Armenian SSR}}| 14Turkmen SSR}}| 15Estonian SSR}}


File:Gdp per capita 1965.png|thumb|upright=1.2|The Soviet Union in comparison to other countries by GDP (nominal) per capita in 1965 based on a West-German school book (1971){|width=100%{{legend|#400082|> 5,000 DM}}{{legend|#00BFFF|2,500 – 5,000 DM}}{{legend|#3CB371|1,000 – 2,500 DM}}{{legend|#9ACD32|500 – 1,000 DM}}{{legend|#FFFF00|250 – 500 DM}}{{legend|#FFFACD|< 250 DM}}]]The Soviet Union became the first country to adopt a planned economy, whereby production and distribution of goods were centralized and directed by the government. The first Bolshevik experience with a command economy was the policy of War communism, which involved the nationalization of industry, centralized distribution of output, coercive requisition of agricultural production, and attempts to eliminate money circulation, private enterprises and free trade. After the severe economic collapse, Lenin replaced war communism by the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921, legalising free trade and private ownership of small businesses. The economy quickly recovered.BOOK, Gregory, Paul R., The Political Economy of Stalinism: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives, 218–20, Cambridge University Press, 2004,weblink 978-0-521-53367-6, After a long debate among the members of Politburo about the course of economic development, by 1928–1929, upon gaining control of the country, Joseph Stalin abandoned NEP and pushed for full central planning, starting forced collectivization of agriculture and enacting draconian labor legislation. Resources were mobilized for rapid industrialization, which greatly expanded Soviet capacity in heavy industry and capital goods during the 1930s. A main motivation for industrialization was preparation for war, mostly due to distrust of the outside capitalistic world.BOOK, Mawdsley, Evan, 30, The Stalin Years: The Soviet Union, 1929–1953, Manchester University Press, 1998,weblink 978-0-7190-4600-1, As a result, the USSR was transformed from a largely agrarian economy into a great industrial power, leading the way for its emergence as a superpower after World War II.BOOK, Wheatcroft, S. G., Davies, R. W., Cooper, J. M., 30–2, Soviet Industrialization Reconsidered: Some Preliminary Conclusions about Economic Development between 1926 and 1941, Economic History Review, 1986,weblink 978-0-7190-4600-1, 39, 2, The war hugely devastated Soviet economy and infrastructure and they required extensive reconstruction.WEB, Reconstruction and Cold War, Library of Congress,weblink 23 October 2010, File:DneproGES 1947.JPG|thumb|left|The DneproGES, one of many hydroelectric power stations in the Soviet Union]]By the early 1940s, the Soviet economy had become relatively self-sufficient; for most of the period until the creation of Comecon, only a very small share of domestic products was traded internationally.WEB, Reconstruction and Cold War, Library of Congress Country Studies,weblink 23 October 2010, After the creation of the Eastern Bloc, external trade rose rapidly. Still, the influence of the world economy on the USSR was limited by fixed domestic prices and a state monopoly on foreign trade.BOOK, International Monetary Fund, IMF and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, A Study of the Soviet Economy, 1, International Monetary Fund, 1991,weblink 9, 978-0-14-103797-4, Grain and sophisticated consumer manufactures became major import articles from around the 1960s. During the arms race of the Cold War, the Soviet economy was burdened by military expenditures, heavily lobbied for by a powerful bureaucracy dependent on the arms industry. At the same time, the Soviet Union became the largest arms exporter to the Third World. Significant amounts of Soviet resources during the Cold War were allocated in aid to the other socialist states.File:Armenian cotton.jpg|thumb|Picking cotton in Armenia in the 1930s]]From the 1930s until its dissolution in late 1991, the way the Soviet economy operated remained essentially unchanged. The economy was formally directed by central planning, carried out by Gosplan and organized in five-year plans. However, in practice the plans were highly aggregated and provisional, subject to ad hoc intervention by superiors. All key economic decisions were taken by the political leadership. Allocated resources and plan targets were normally denominated in rubles rather than in physical goods. Credit was discouraged, but widespread. Final allocation of output was achieved through relatively decentralized, unplanned contracting. Although in theory prices were legally set from above, in practice they were often negotiated, and informal horizontal links (between producer factories etc.) were widespread.A number of basic services were state-funded, such as education and health care. In the manufacturing sector, heavy industry and defense were prioritized over consumer goods. Consumer goods, particularly outside large cities, were often scarce, of poor quality and limited choice. Under command economy, consumers had almost no influence on production, so the changing demands of a population with growing incomes could not be satisfied by supplies at rigidly fixed prices.Hanson, Philip. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Economy: An Economic History of the USSR from 1945. London: Longman, 2003. A massive unplanned second economy grew up at low levels alongside the planned one, providing some of the goods and services that the planners could not. Legalization of some elements of the decentralized economy was attempted with the reform of 1965.File:RIAN archive 633872 Workers of Soligorsk potash plant.jpg|thumb|upright|left|Workers of the Salihorsk potash plant, Belarus, 1968]]Although statistics of the Soviet economy are notoriously unreliable and its economic growth difficult to estimate precisely,JOURNAL, 10.1057/ces.1997.1, Bergson, Abram, 1997, How Big was the Soviet GDP?, Comparative Economic Studies, 39, 1, 1–14, JOURNAL, 10.1080/09668139308412080, Harrison, Mark, 1993, Soviet Economic Growth Since 1928: The Alternative Statistics of G. I. Khanin, Europe-Asia Studies, 45, 1, 141–167, by most accounts, the economy continued to expand until the mid-1980s. During the 1950s and 1960s, it had comparatively high growth and was catching up to the West.BOOK, Gvosdev, Nikolas, The Strange Death of Soviet communism: A Postscript, Transaction Publishers, 2008,weblink 978-1-4128-0698-5, Nikolas Gvosdev, However, after 1970, the growth, while still positive, steadily declined much more quickly and consistently than in other countries, despite a rapid increase in the capital stock (the rate of capital increase was only surpassed by Japan).Overall, between 1960 and 1989, the growth rate of per capita income in the Soviet Union was slightly above the world average (based on 102 countries).{{citation needed|date=November 2011}} According to Stanley Fischer and William Easterly, growth could have been faster. By their calculation, per capita income of Soviet Union in 1989 should have been twice higher than it was, considering the amount of investment, education and population. The authors attribute this poor performance to low productivity of capital in the Soviet Union.WEB, Fischer, Stanley, Stanley Fischer, Easterly, William, William Easterly, The Soviet Economic Decline, Historical and Republican Data, PDF, World Bank, 1994,weblink 23 October 2010, Steven Rosenfielde states that the standard of living declined due to Stalin's despotism, and while there was a brief improvement after his death, it lapsed into stagnation.JOURNAL, Rosefielde, Steven, 1996, Stalinism in Post-Communist Perspective: New Evidence on Killings, Forced Labour and Economic Growth in the 1930s, 956–987, Europe-Asia Studies, 48, 6, 152635, The new evidence shows that administrative command planning and Stalin's forced industrialization strategies failed in the 1930s and beyond. The economic miracle chronicled in official hagiographies and until recently faithfully recounted in Western textbooks has no basis in fact. It is the statistical artefact not of index number relativity (the Gerschenkron effect) but of misapplying to the calculation of growth cost prices that do not accurately measure competitive value. The standard of living declined during the 1930s in response to Stalin's despotism, and after a brief improvement following his death, lapsed into stagnation. Glasnost and post-communist revelations interpreted as a whole thus provide no basis for Getty, Rittersporn & Zemskov's relatively favourable characterization of the methods, economic achievements and human costs of Stalinism. The evidence demonstrates that the suppression of markets and the oppression of vast segments of the population were economically counterproductive and humanly calamitous, just as anyone conversant with classical economic theory should have expected., In 1987, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform and revitalize the economy with his program of perestroika. His policies relaxed state control over enterprises, but did not replace it by market incentives, resulting in a sharp decline in output. The economy, already suffering from reduced petroleum export revenues, started to collapse. Prices were still fixed, and property was still largely state-owned until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For most of the period after World War II until its collapse, Soviet GDP (PPP) was the second largest in the world, and 3rd in the world during the mid-1980s to 1989,WEB, Central Intelligence Agency, GDP – Million 1990, The World Factbook, 1991,weblink 12 June 2010, Central Intelligence Agency, although per-capita it was behind that of First World countries.WEB, Central Intelligence Agency, GDP Per Capita – 1991, The World Factbook, 1992,weblink 12 June 2010, Central Intelligence Agency, Compared to countries with similar per-capita GDP in 1928, the Soviet Union experienced significant growth.WEB,weblink A Beginner's Guide to Soviet Industrialization, 28 October 2013, Waiting for Putney, 18 October 2016, yes,weblink 19 October 2016, dmy-all, In 1990, the Soviet Union had a Human Development Index of 0.920, placing it in the "high" category of human development. It was the third-highest in the Eastern Bloc, behind Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and the 25th in the world of 130 countries.WEB,weblink Human Development Report 1990 {{!, Human Development Reports||access-date=18 October 2016}}


File:1987 CPA 5858.jpg|thumb|Soviet stamp depicting the 30th anniversary of the International Atomic Energy Agency, published in 1987, a year following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster ]]The need for fuel declined in the Soviet Union from the 1970s to the 1980s,BOOK, Wilson, David, The Demand for Energy in the Soviet Union, 1983, Rowman and Littfield, 978-0-7099-2704-4, 105 to 108, both per ruble of gross social product and per ruble of industrial product. At the start, this decline grew very rapidly but gradually slowed down between 1970 and 1975. From 1975 and 1980, it grew even slower,{{Clarify|date=March 2011}} only 2.6 percent.{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|p=295}} David Wilson, a historian, believed that the gas industry would account for 40 percent of Soviet fuel production by the end of the century. His theory did not come to fruition because of the USSR's collapse.{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|p=297}} The USSR, in theory, would have continued to have an economic growth rate of 2–2.5 percent during the 1990s because of Soviet energy fields.{{Clarify|date=March 2011}}{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|pp=297–99}} However, the energy sector faced many difficulties, among them the country's high military expenditure and hostile relations with the First World (pre-Gorbachev era).{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|p=299}}In 1991, the Soviet Union had a pipeline network of {{convert|82000|km|mi}} for crude oil and another {{convert|206500|km|mi}} for natural gas. Petroleum and petroleum-based products, natural gas, metals, wood, agricultural products, and a variety of manufactured goods, primarily machinery, arms and military equipment, were exported.WEB, Soviet Union – Economy, Central Intelligence Agency, 1992, The World Factbook,weblink 23 October 2010, Central Intelligence Agency, In the 1970s and 1980s, the Soviet Union heavily relied on fossil fuel exports to earn hard currency. At its peak in 1988, it was the largest producer and second largest exporter of crude oil, surpassed only by Saudi Arabia.BOOK, Hardt, John Pearce, Hardt, John P., Russia's Uncertain Economic Future: With a Comprehensive Subject Index, 233, M.E. Sharpe, 2003,weblink 978-0-7656-1208-3,

Science and technology

File:Sputnik-stamp-ussr.jpg|thumb|left|upright|Soviet stamp showing the orbit of Sputnik 1Sputnik 1The Soviet Union placed great emphasis on science and technology within its economy,WEB, Science and Technology, Library of Congress Country Studies,weblink 23 October 2010, however, the most remarkable Soviet successes in technology, such as producing the world's first space satellite, typically were the responsibility of the military.WEB, Economy, Library of Congress Country Studies,weblink 23 October 2010, Lenin believed that the USSR would never overtake the developed world if it remained as technologically backward as it was upon its founding. Soviet authorities proved their commitment to Lenin's belief by developing massive networks, research and development organizations. In the early 1960s, the Soviets awarded 40% of chemistry PhDs to women, compared to only 5% who received such a degree in the United States.Rose Eveleth (12 December 2013). Soviet Russia Had a Better Record of Training Women in STEM Than America Does Today. Retrieved 26 June 2014. By 1989, Soviet scientists were among the world's best-trained specialists in several areas, such as energy physics, selected areas of medicine, mathematics, welding and military technologies. Due to rigid state planning and bureaucracy, the Soviets remained far behind technologically in chemistry, biology, and computers when compared to the First World.Under the Reagan administration, Project Socrates determined that the Soviet Union addressed the acquisition of science and technology in a manner that was radically different from what the US was using. In the case of the US, economic prioritization was being used for indigenous research and development as the means to acquire science and technology in both the private and public sectors. In contrast, the Soviet Union was offensively and defensively maneuvering in the acquisition and utilization of the worldwide technology, to increase the competitive advantage that they acquired from the technology, while preventing the US from acquiring a competitive advantage. However, in addition, the Soviet Union's technology-based planning was executed in a centralized, government-centric manner that greatly hindered its flexibility. It was this significant lack of flexibility that was exploited by the US to undermine the strength of the Soviet Union and thus foster its reform.JOURNAL, Global Tech Strategies Brought to U.S, Washington Technology, 3 May 1990, Margo, MacFarland, NEWS, R.A., Deckert, The science of uncovering industrial information, 10 October 1990, Business Journal of the Treasure Coast, NEWS, U.S. Firms Must Trade Short-Term Gains for Long-Term Technology Planning, 7 March 1991, Inside the Pentagon,


File:Flag of the Aeroflot.svg|thumb|AeroflotAeroflotTransport was a key component of the nation's economy. The economic centralization of the late 1920s and 1930s led to the development of infrastructure on a massive scale, most notably the establishment of Aeroflot, an aviation enterprise.BOOK, Highman, Robert D.S., Greenwood, John T., Hardesty, Von, Russian Aviation and Air Power in the Twentieth Century, Routledge, 1998,weblink 978-0-7146-4784-5, 134, The country had a wide variety of modes of transport by land, water and air. However, due to bad maintenance, much of the road, water and Soviet civil aviation transport were outdated and technologically backward compared to the First World.Soviet rail transport was the largest and most intensively used in the world;{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|p=205}} it was also better developed than most of its Western counterparts.{{harvnb|Wilson|1983|p=201}} By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Soviet economists were calling for the construction of more roads to alleviate some of the burden from the railways and to improve the Soviet government budget.Ambler, Shaw and Symons 1985, p. 166–67. The street network and automotive industryAmbler, Shaw and Symons 1985, p. 168. remained underdeveloped,Ambler, Shaw and Symons 1985, p. 165. and dirt roads were common outside major cities.Ambler, Shaw and Symons 1985, p. 167. Soviet maintenance projects proved unable to take care of even the few roads the country had. By the early-to-mid-1980s, the Soviet authorities tried to solve the road problem by ordering the construction of new ones. Meanwhile, the automobile industry was growing at a faster rate than road construction.Ambler, Shaw and Symons 1985, p. 169. The underdeveloped road network led to a growing demand for public transport.International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 1991, p. 56.Despite improvements, several aspects of the transport sector were still{{when|date=February 2016}} riddled with problems due to outdated infrastructure, lack of investment, corruption and bad decision-making. Soviet authorities were unable to meet the growing demand for transport infrastructure and services.The Soviet merchant navy was one of the largest in the world.WEB,weblink Soviet Union – Communications, Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, 1991, 20 October 2010, Central Intelligence Agency,


File:Population of former USSR.PNG|thumb|upright=1.1|Population of the Soviet Union (red) and the post-Soviet statespost-Soviet statesExcess deaths over the course of World War I and the Russian Civil War (including the postwar famine) amounted to a combined total of 18 million,BOOK, Mark Harrison, Accounting for War: Soviet Production, Employment, and the Defence Burden, 1940–1945,weblink 18 July 2002, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-89424-1, 167, some 10 million in the 1930s, and more than 26 million in 1941–5. The postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million smaller than it would have been if pre-war demographic growth had continued. According to Catherine Merridale, "... reasonable estimate would place the total number of excess deaths for the whole period somewhere around 60 million."BOOK, Jay Winter, Emmanuel Sivan, War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century,weblink 2000, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-79436-7, 64, The birth rate of the USSR decreased from 44.0 per thousand in 1926 to 18.0 in 1974, largely due to increasing urbanization and the rising average age of marriages. The mortality rate demonstrated a gradual decrease as well – from 23.7 per thousand in 1926 to 8.7 in 1974. In general, the birth rates of the southern republics in Transcaucasia and Central Asia were considerably higher than those in the northern parts of the Soviet Union, and in some cases even increased in the post–World War II period, a phenomenon partly attributed to slower rates of urbanization and traditionally earlier marriages in the southern republics.BOOK, Government of the USSR, ru:Большая советская энциклопедия, Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, 24, 15, 1977, Moscow, State Committee for Publishing, Russian, Government of the USSR, Soviet Europe moved towards sub-replacement fertility, while Soviet Central Asia continued to exhibit population growth well above replacement-level fertility.BOOK, Anderson, Barbara A., Growth and Diversity of the Population of the Soviet Union, 510, 155–77, 1990, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, The late 1960s and the 1970s witnessed a reversal of the declining trajectory of the rate of mortality in the USSR, and was especially notable among men of working age, but was also prevalent in Russia and other predominantly Slavic areas of the country.BOOK, Vallin, J., Chesnais, J.C., Recent Developments of Mortality in Europe, English-Speaking Countries and the Soviet Union, 1960–1970, 29, 861–898, 1970, Population Studies, An analysis of the official data from the late 1980s showed that after worsening in the late-1970s and the early 1980s, adult mortality began to improve again.BOOK, Ryan, Michael, Life Expectancy and Mortality Data from the Soviet Union, 296, 1,513–1515, 28 May 1988, British Medical Journal, The infant mortality rate increased from 24.7 in 1970 to 27.9 in 1974. Some researchers regarded the rise as largely real, a consequence of worsening health conditions and services.BOOK, Davis, Christopher; Murray Feshbach, Feshbach, Murray, Rising Infant Mortality in the USSR in the 1970s, 95, Washington, D.C., United States Census Bureau, The rises in both adult and infant mortality were not explained or defended by Soviet officials, and the Soviet government simply stopped publishing all mortality statistics for ten years. Soviet demographers and health specialists remained silent about the mortality increases until the late-1980s, when the publication of mortality data resumed and researchers could delve into the real causes.BOOK, Krimins, Juris, The Changing Mortality Patterns in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia: Experience of the Past Three Decades, 3–7 December 1990, Paper presented at the International Conference on Health, Morbidity and Mortality by Cause of Death in Europe.


File:Milovice soviet pupils.jpg|thumb|Soviet pupils in Milovice, Czechoslovakia (now Czechia), 1985]]Anatoly Lunacharsky became the first People's Commissar for Education of Soviet Russia. At the beginning, the Soviet authorities placed great emphasis on the elimination of illiteracy. People who were literate were automatically hired as teachers. {{citation needed|date=May 2017}} For a short period, quality was sacrificed for quantity. By 1940, Joseph Stalin could announce that illiteracy had been eliminated. Throughout the 1930s social mobility rose sharply, which has been attributed to Soviet reforms in education.Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union 1921–1934, Cambridge University Press (16 May 2002), {{ISBN|0521894239}} In the aftermath of the Great Patriotic War, the country's educational system expanded dramatically. This expansion had a tremendous effect. In the 1960s, nearly all Soviet children had access to education, the only exception being those living in remote areas. Nikita Khrushchev tried to make education more accessible, making it clear to children that education was closely linked to the needs of society. Education also became important in giving rise to the New Man.BOOK, Law, David A., Russian Civilization, Ardent Media, 1975, 300–1,weblink 978-0-8422-0529-0, Citizens directly entering the work force had the constitutional right to a job and to free vocational training.The country's system of education was highly centralized and universally accessible to all citizens, with affirmative action for applicants from nations associated with cultural backwardness. However, as part of the general antisemitic policy, an unofficial Jewish quota was applied in the leading institutions of higher education by subjecting Jewish applicants to harsher entrance examinations.BOOK, Mikhail Shifman, You Failed Your Math Test, Comrade Einstein: Adventures and Misadventures of Young Mathematicians Or Test Your Skills in Almost Recreational Mathematics, World Scientific, 2005,weblink 9789812701169, JOURNAL, Edward Frenkel, The Fifth problem: math & anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, October 2012, The New Criterion,weblink NEWS,weblink London, The Independent, 11 October 2011, More migrants please, especially the clever ones, Dominic Lawson, WEB, Andre Geim, Biographical,, 2010,weblink The Brezhnev era also introduced a rule that required all university applicants to present a reference from the local Komsomol party secretary.BOOK, Shlapentokh, Vladimir, Soviet Intellectuals and Political Power: The Post-Stalin Era, 26, I.B. Tauris, 1990,weblink 978-1-85043-284-5, According to statistics from 1986, the number of higher education students per the population of 10,000 was 181 for the USSR, compared to 517 for the US.BOOK, Pejovich, Svetozar, The Economics of Property Rights: Towards a Theory of Comparative Systems, 130, 1990, Springer Science+Business Media,weblink 978-0-7923-0878-2,

Ethnic groups

File:Samarkand-1981-0013.JPG|thumb|upright=0.9|People in SamarkandSamarkandFile:Mestia, Svaneti. October 30, 1929.JPG|thumb|upright=0.9|Svaneti man in MestiaMestiaThe Soviet Union was a very ethnically diverse country, with more than 100 distinct ethnic groups. The total population was estimated at 293 million in 1991. According to a 1990 estimate, the majority were Russians (50.78%), followed by Ukrainians (15.45%) and Uzbeks (5.84%).WEB,weblink Soviet Union – People, Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, 1991, 25 October 2010, Central Intelligence Agency, All citizens of the USSR had their own ethnic affiliation. The ethnicity of a person was chosen at the age of sixteen{{sfn|Comrie|1981|p=2}} by the child's parents. If the parents did not agree, the child was automatically assigned the ethnicity of the father. Partly due to Soviet policies, some of the smaller minority ethnic groups were considered part of larger ones, such as the Mingrelians of Georgia, who were classified with the linguistically related Georgians.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|p=3}} Some ethnic groups voluntarily assimilated, while others were brought in by force. Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians shared close cultural ties, while other groups did not. With multiple nationalities living in the same territory, ethnic antagonisms developed over the years.WEB,weblink Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union, Hosking, Geoffrey, 13 March 2006, History Today, 25 October 2010, (pay-fee){{POV statement|date=February 2013}}Members of various ethnicities participated in the legislative bodies of Soviet Uniion. Organs of power like the Politburo, the Secretariat of the Central Committee etc, were formally ethnically neutral, but in reality ethnic Russians were overrepresented, although there were also non-Russian leaders in the Soviet leadership, such as Joseph Stalin, Grigory Zinoviev, Nikolai Podgorny or Andrei Gromyko. During the Soviet era, a great number of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians migrated to other Soviet republics and many of them settled there. According to the last Soviet census in 1989, the Russian “diaspora” in the Soviet republics had reached 25 millions.Pål Kolstø, "Political construction sites: Nation-building in Russia and the post-Soviet States". Boulder, Colorado: Westview press 2000, pp. 81-104uncorrected version, Chapter 2, par. "Nations and Nation-Building in Eastern Europe" and Chapter 5File:Ethnic map USSR 1941.jpg|Ethnographic map of the Soviet Union, 1941File:Ukrainians in Russian regions 1926.jpg|Number and share of Ukrainians in the population of the regions of the RSFSR (1926 census)File:Ukrainians in Russian regions 1979.jpg|Number and share of Ukrainians in the population of the regions of the RSFSR (1979 census)File:Soviet Union Muslim Population 1979 (full).png|Map showing the distribution of Muslims within the Soviet Union in 1979


File:RussianAbortionPoster.jpg|thumb|An early Soviet-era poster discouraging unsafe abortionabortionIn 1917, before the revolution, health conditions were significantly behind those of developed countries. As Lenin later noted, "Either the lice will defeat socialism, or socialism will defeat the lice".{{harvnb|Lane|1992|p=353}} The Soviet principle of health care was conceived by the People's Commissariat for Health in 1918. Health care was to be controlled by the state and would be provided to its citizens free of charge, this at the time being a revolutionary concept. Article 42 of the 1977 Soviet Constitution gave all citizens the right to health protection and free access to any health institutions in the USSR. Before Leonid Brezhnev became General Secretary, the healthcare system of the Soviet Union was held in high esteem by many foreign specialists. This changed however, from Brezhnev's accession and Mikhail Gorbachev's tenure as leader, the Soviet health care system was heavily criticized for many basic faults, such as the quality of service and the unevenness in its provision.{{harvnb|Lane|1992|p=352}} Minister of Health Yevgeniy Chazov, during the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, while highlighting such Soviet successes as having the most doctors and hospitals in the world, recognized the system's areas for improvement and felt that billions of Soviet rubles were squandered.{{harvnb|Lane|1992|pp=352–53}} After the socialist revolution, the life expectancy for all age groups went up. This statistic in itself was seen by some that the socialist system was superior to the capitalist system. These improvements continued into the 1960s, when Soviet statistics indicated that the life expectancy in the Soviet Union briefly surpassed that of the United States. Life expectancy started to decline in the 1970s, possibly because of alcohol abuse. At the same time, infant mortality began to rise. After 1974, the government stopped publishing statistics on this. This trend can be partly explained by the number of pregnancies rising drastically in the Asian part of the country where infant mortality was highest, while declining markedly in the more developed European part of the Soviet Union.BOOK, Dinkel, R.H., The Seeming Paradox of Increasing Mortality in a Highly Industrialized Nation: the Example of the Soviet Union, 155–77, 1990,


The Soviet government headed by Vladimir Lenin gave small language groups their own writing systems.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|pp=3–4}} The development of these writing systems was very successful, even though some flaws were detected. During the later days of the USSR, countries with the same multilingual situation implemented similar policies. A serious problem when creating these writing systems was that the languages differed dialectally greatly from each other.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|p=4}} When a language had been given a writing system and appeared in a notable publication, that language would attain "official language" status. There were many minority languages which never received their own writing system; therefore their speakers were forced to have a second language.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|p=25}} There are examples where the Soviet government retreated from this policy, most notable under Stalin's regime, where education was discontinued in languages which were not widespread enough. These languages were then assimilated into another language, mostly Russian.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|p=26}} During the Great Patriotic War, some minority languages were banned, and their speakers accused of collaborating with the enemy.{{harvnb|Comrie|1981|p=27}}As the most widely spoken of the Soviet Union's many languages, Russian de facto functioned as an official language, as the "language of interethnic communication" (), but only assumed the de jure status as the official national language in 1990.WEB, ru:ЗАКОН СССР ОТ 24 April 1990 О ЯЗЫКАХ НАРОДОВ СССР, Government of the Soviet Union, 24 April 1990,weblink Law of the USSR from 24 April 1990 On languages of the USSR, 24 October 2010, Russian,


File:Christ saviour explosion.jpg|thumb|The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in MoscowMoscowChristianity and Islam had the greatest number of adherents among the Soviet state's religious citizens.BOOK, Eaton, Katherine Bliss, Daily life in the Soviet Union, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004,weblink 978-0-313-31628-9, 285 and 286, Eastern Christianity predominated among Christians, with Russia's traditional Russian Orthodox Church being the Soviet Union's largest Christian denomination. About 90 percent of the Soviet Union's Muslims were Sunnis, with Shias being concentrated in Azerbaijan. Smaller groups included Roman Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, and a variety of Protestant denominations (especially Baptists and Lutherans).Religious influence had been strong in the Russian Empire. The Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed a privileged status as the church of the monarchy and took part in carrying out official state functions.BOOK, Silvio Ferrari, W. Cole Durham, Elizabeth A. Sewell, Law and religion in post-communist Europe,weblink 2003, Peeters Pub & Booksellers, 978-90-429-1262-5, 261, The immediate period following the establishment of the Soviet state included a struggle against the Orthodox Church, which the revolutionaries considered an ally of the former ruling classes.{{harvnb|Simon|1974|pp=64–65}}In Soviet law, the "freedom to hold religious services" was constitutionally guaranteed, although the ruling Communist Party regarded religion as incompatible with the Marxist spirit of scientific materialism. In practice, the Soviet system subscribed to a narrow interpretation of this right, and in fact utilized a range of official measures to discourage religion and curb the activities of religious groups.The 1918 Council of People's Commissars decree establishing the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) as a secular state also decreed that "the teaching of religion in all [places] where subjects of general instruction are taught, is forbidden. Citizens may teach and may be taught religion privately."{{harvnb|Simon|1974|p=209}} Among further restrictions, those adopted in 1929, a half-decade into Stalin's rule, included express prohibitions on a range of church activities, including meetings for organized Bible study. Both Christian and non-Christian establishments were shut down by the thousands in the 1920s and 1930s. By 1940, as many as 90 percent of the churches, synagogues, and mosques that had been operating in 1917 were closed.BOOK, Atwood, Craig D., Always Reforming: A History of Christianity Since 1300, Macon, Georgia, Mercer University Press, 2001,weblink 978-0-86554-679-0, 311, File:1989 CPA 6135.jpg|thumb|upright|Soviet stamp showing Saint Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev and statue of Bohdan KhmelnytskyBohdan KhmelnytskyConvinced that religious anti-Sovietism had become a thing of the past with most Soviet Christians, and with the looming threat of war, the Stalin regime began shifting to a more moderate religion policy in the late 1930s.{{harvnb|Janz|1998|pp=38–39}} Soviet religious establishments overwhelmingly rallied to support the war effort during the Soviet war with Nazi Germany. Amid other accommodations to religious faith after Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, churches were reopened, Radio Moscow began broadcasting a religious hour, and a historic meeting between Stalin and Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Sergius of Moscow was held in 1943. Stalin had the support of the majority of the religious people in the Soviet Union even through the late 1980s. The general tendency of this period was an increase in religious activity among believers of all faiths.BOOK, Ro'i, Yaacov, Jews and Jewish Life in Russia and the Soviet Union, London, Frank Cass, 1995,weblink 978-0-7146-4619-0, 263, The Soviet establishment under General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev's leadership clashed with the churches in 1958–1964, a period when atheism was emphasized in the educational curriculum, and numerous state publications promoted atheistic views. During this period, the number of churches fell from 20,000 to 10,000 from 1959 to 1965, and the number of synagogues dropped from 500 to 97.BOOK, Nahaylo, Bohdan, Victor Swoboda, yes, Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1990,weblink 978-0-02-922401-4, 144, The number of working mosques also declined, falling from 1,500 to 500 within a decade.Religious institutions remained monitored by the Soviet government, but churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques were all given more leeway in the Brezhnev era.BOOK, Mark D. Steinberg, Catherine Wanner, Religion, morality, and community in post-Soviet societies,weblink October 2008, Indiana University Press, 978-0-253-22038-7, 6, Official relations between the Orthodox Church and the Soviet government again warmed to the point that the Brezhnev government twice honored Orthodox Patriarch Alexy I with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.{{harvnb|Janz|1998|p=42}} A poll conducted by Soviet authorities in 1982 recorded 20 percent of the Soviet population as "active religious believers."BOOK, McKay, George, Williams, Christopher, Subcultures and New Religious Movements in Russia and East-Central Europe, Peter Lang (publishing company), Peter Lang, 2009,weblink 978-3-03911-921-9, 231–32,


{{See also|Red Army|Soviet Navy|Soviet Air Forces|Military history of the Soviet Union}}{{Empty section|date=October 2018}}


{{See also|Nostalgia for the Soviet Union}}{{Empty section|date=October 2018}}


{{See also|Soviet cuisine|Fashion in the Soviet Union}}(File:Марш энтузиастов.ogg|thumb|The "Enthusiast's March", a 1930s song famous in the Soviet Union)File:Vladimir Vysotsky.jpg|thumb|upright|Soviet singer-songwriter, poet and actor Vladimir VysotskyVladimir VysotskyThe culture of the Soviet Union passed through several stages during the USSR's 69-year existence. During the first eleven years following the Revolution (1918–1929), there was relative freedom and artists experimented with several different styles to find a distinctive Soviet style of art. Lenin wanted art to be accessible to the Russian people. On the other hand, hundreds of intellectuals, writers, and artists were exiled or executed, and their work banned, for example Nikolay Gumilyov (shot for alleged conspiring against the Bolshevik regime) and Yevgeny Zamyatin (banned).'On the other hand...' See the index of Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield, 2004, Random HouseThe government encouraged a variety of trends. In art and literature, numerous schools, some traditional and others radically experimental, proliferated. Communist writers Maxim Gorky and Vladimir Mayakovsky were active during this time. Film, as a means of influencing a largely illiterate society, received encouragement from the state; much of director Sergei Eisenstein's best work dates from this period.Later, during Stalin's rule, Soviet culture was characterized by the rise and domination of the government-imposed style of socialist realism, with all other trends being severely repressed, with rare exceptions, for example Mikhail Bulgakov's works. Many writers were imprisoned and killed.{{harvnb|Rayfield|2004|pp=317–320}}Following the Khrushchev Thaw of the late 1950s and early 1960s, censorship was diminished. During this time, a distinctive period of Soviet culture developed characterized by conformist public life and intense focus on personal life. Greater experimentation in art forms were again permissible, with the result that more sophisticated and subtly critical work began to be produced. The regime loosened its emphasis on socialist realism; thus, for instance, many protagonists of the novels of author Yury Trifonov concerned themselves with problems of daily life rather than with building socialism. An underground dissident literature, known as samizdat, developed during this late period. In architecture the Khrushchev era mostly focused on functional design as opposed to the highly decorated style of Stalin's epoch.In the second half of the 1980s, Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost significantly expanded freedom of expression throughout the Soviet Union in the media & press.WEB, Gorbachev, Mikhail, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2 October 2007,weblink "Under his new policy of glasnost ("openness"), a major cultural thaw took place: freedoms of expression and of information were significantly expanded; the press and broadcasting were allowed unprecedented candour in their reportage and criticism; and the country's legacy of Stalinist totalitarian rule was eventually completely repudiated by the government.", 1 December 2017, {{dead link|date=March 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}


{{See also|Voluntary Sports Societies of the Soviet Union|CSKA Moscow|Soviet Union at the Olympics|Soviet Union men's national ice hockey team}}File:RR5110-0098R.png|thumb|Valeri Kharlamov represented the Soviet Union at 11 Ice Hockey World Championships, winning 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze.]]Founded on 20 July 1924 in Moscow, Sovetsky Sport was the first sports newspaper of the Soviet Union.The Olympic Committee of the USSR formed on April 21, 1951, and the IOC recognised the new body in its 45th session (7 May 1951). In the same year, when the Soviet representative Konstantin Andrianov became an IOC member, the USSR officially joined the Olympic Movement. The 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki thus became first Olympic Games for Soviet athletes.The Soviet Union national ice hockey team won nearly every world championship and Olympic tournament between 1954 and 1991 and never failed to medal in any International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournament they competed in.The advent{{when|date=January 2018}} of the state-sponsored "full-time amateur athlete" of the Eastern Bloc countries further eroded the ideology of the pure amateur, as it put the self-financed amateurs of the Western countries at a disadvantage. The Soviet Union entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession – in reality the Soviet state paid many of these competitors to train on a full-time basis.MAGAZINE,weblink Traditions Pro Vs. Amateur, Benjamin, Daniel, Time (magazine), Time, 18 March 2009, 27 July 1992, Nevertheless, the IOC held to the traditional rules regarding amateurism.JOURNAL, Schantz, Otto, The Olympic Ideal and the Winter Games Attitudes Towards the Olympic Winter Games in Olympic Discourses—from Coubertin to Samaranch, Comité International Pierre De Coubertin,weblink PDF, 13 September 2008, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 5 May 2013, A 1989 report by a committee of the Australian Senate claimed that "there is hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medal winner...who is not on one sort of drug or another: usually several kinds. The Moscow Games might well have been called the Chemists' Games".WEB,weblink, Doping violations at the Olympics, 6 June 2017, A member of the IOC Medical Commission, Manfred Donike, privately ran additional tests with a new technique for identifying abnormal levels of testosterone by measuring its ratio to epitestosterone in urine. Twenty percent of the specimens he tested, including those from sixteen gold medalists, would have resulted in disciplinary proceedings had the tests been official. The results of Donike's unofficial tests later convinced the IOC to add his new technique to their testing protocols.BOOK, Wayne (Ph.D.), Wilson, Ed, Derse, Doping in Élite Sport: The Politics of Drugs in the Olympic Movement,weblink 19 July 2012, 2001, Human Kinetics, 978-0-7360-0329-2, 77–, The first documented case of "blood doping" occurred at the 1980 Summer Olympics when a runner{{who|date=January 2018}} was transfused with two pints of blood before winning medals in the 5000 m and 10,000 m.BOOK, Arthur J., Sytkowski, Erythropoietin: Blood, Brain and Beyond,weblink 19 July 2012, May 2006, John Wiley & Sons, 978-3-527-60543-9, 187–, Documentation obtained in 2016 revealed the Soviet Union's plans for a statewide doping system in track and field in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Dated prior to the USSR's decision to boycott the 1984 Games, the document detailed the existing steroids operations of the program, along with suggestions for further enhancements. Dr. Sergei Portugalov of the Institute for Physical Culture, prepared the communication, directed to the Soviet Union's head of track and field. Portugalov later became one of the main figures involved in the implementation of Russian doping prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics.WEB,weblink 13 August 2016, Rebecca R., Ruiz,, The Soviet Doping Plan: Document Reveals Illicit Approach to '84 Olympics, 15 January 2018, The document — obtained by The New York Times from a former chief medical doctor for Soviet track and field — was signed by Dr. Sergei Portugalov, a Soviet sports doctor who went on to capitalize on a growing interest in new methods of doping. [...] Now, more than 30 years later, Dr. Portugalov is a central figure in Russia's current doping scandal. Last fall, the World Anti-Doping Agency named him as a key broker of performance-enhancing drugs in Russia, someone who in recent years injected athletes personally and made a business of covering up drug violations in exchange for money. [...] Dr. Portugalov came to global prominence in 2014 when two Russian whistle-blowers identified him as a linchpin distributor in Russia's state-run doping scheme.,

See also







  • BOOK, Ambler, John, Shaw, Denis J.B., Symons, Leslie, Soviet and East European Transport Problems, Taylor & Francis, 1985,weblink 978-0-7099-0557-8,
  • BOOK, Comrie, Bernard, The Languages of the Soviet Union, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press (CUP) Archive, 1981,weblink 978-0-521-29877-3, Bernard Comrie, harv,
  • BOOK, Davies, Robert, Robert William Davies, Wheatcroft, Stephen, Stephen G. Wheatcroft, The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia Volume 5: The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture 1931–1933,weblink 2004, Palgrave Macmillan, 978-0-230-23855-8, harv,
  • BOOK, The Life of Lenin, Fischer, Louis, Louis Fischer, 1964, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, harv,
  • BOOK, Janz, Denis, World Christianity and Marxism, New York, Oxford University Press, 1998,weblink 978-0-19-511944-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Lane, David Stuart, Soviet Society under Perestroika, Routledge, 1992,weblink 978-0-415-07600-5, harv,
  • BOOK, Leggett, George, The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1981, 978-0-19-822552-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Lenin's Last Struggle, Lewin, Moshe, Moshe Lewin, 1969, Faber and Faber, London, Sheridan Smith, A. M., Alan Sheridan, harv,
  • BOOK, Rayfield, Donald, Stalin and His Hangmen: An Authoritative Portrait of a Tyrant and Those Who Served Him, Viking Press, 2004, 978-0-375-75771-6, Donald Rayfield, harv, Stalin and His Hangmen,
  • BOOK, Lenin: A Biography, Service, Robert, Robert Service (historian), 2000, Macmillan, London, 978-0-333-72625-9, harv, Lenin: A Biography,
  • BOOK, Simon, Gerard, Church, State, and Opposition in the U.S.S.R, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1974,weblink 978-0-520-02612-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Lenin: Life and Legacy, Volkogonov, Dmitri, Dmitri Volkogonov, 1994, Shukman, Harold, Harold Shukman, HarperCollins, London, 978-0-00-255123-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Lenin: The Practice and Theory of Revolution, White, James D., 2001, European History in Perspective, Palgrave, Basingstoke, England, 978-0-333-72157-5, harv,
  • BOOK, Wilson, David, The Demand for Energy in the Soviet Union, Taylor & Francis, 1983,weblink 978-0-7099-2704-4, harv,
  • BOOK, World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, A Study of the Soviet economy, 3, International Monetary Fund, 1991,weblink 9789264134683,
  • BOOK, Social Identities in Revolutionary Russia, Palat, Madhavan K., Madhavan K. Palat, 2001, Palgrave, UK, 978-0-333-92947-6,weblink 26 May 2012,
  • BOOK, Warshofsky Lapidus, Gail, 1978, Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 978-0-520-03938-4, harv,
  • JOURNAL,weblink The Scale and Nature of German and Soviet Repression and Mass Killings, 1930–45, Wheatcroft, Stephen, Stephen G. Wheatcroft, 1996, 48, 8, 1319–1353, Europe-Asia Studies, 152781, 10.1080/09668139608412415, harv,

Further reading

{{See also|List of primary and secondary sources on the Cold War}}


  • A Country Study: Soviet Union (Former). Library of Congress Country Studies, 1991.
  • Brown, Archie, et al., eds.: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Soviet Union (Cambridge University Press, 1982).
  • Gilbert, Martin. Routledge Atlas of Russian History (4th ed. 2007) excerpt and text search
  • Gorodetsky, Gabriel, ed. Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1991: A Retrospective (2014)
  • Grant, Ted. Russia, from Revolution to Counter-Revolution, London, Well Red Publications, 1997
  • Hosking, Geoffrey. The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union from Within (2nd ed. Harvard UP 1992) 570pp
  • Howe, G. Melvyn: The Soviet Union: A Geographical Survey 2nd. edn. (Estover, UK: MacDonald and Evans, 1983).
  • Kort, Michael. The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath (7th ed. 2010) 502pp
  • McCauley, Martin. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union (2007), 522 pages.
  • Moss, Walter G. A History of Russia. Vol. 2: Since 1855. 2d ed. Anthem Press, 2005.
  • Nove, Alec. An Economic History of the USSR, 1917–1991. (3rd ed. 1993)
  • Pipes, Richard. Communism: A History (2003)
  • Service, Robert. A History of Twentieth-Century Russia. (2nd ed. 1999)

Lenin and Leninism

  • Clark, Ronald W. Lenin (1988). 570 pp.
  • Debo, Richard K. Survival and Consolidation: The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia, 1918–1921 (1992).
  • Marples, David R. Lenin's Revolution: Russia, 1917–1921 (2000) 156pp. short survey
  • Pipes, Richard. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution (1996) excerpt and text search, by a leading conservative
  • Pipes, Richard. Russia under the Bolshevik Regime. (1994). 608 pp.
  • Service, Robert. Lenin: A Biography (2002), 561pp; standard scholarly biography; a short version of his 3 vol detailed biography
  • Volkogonov, Dmitri. Lenin: Life and Legacy (1994). 600 pp.

Stalin and Stalinism

  • Daniels, R. V., ed. The Stalin Revolution (1965)
  • Davies, Sarah, and James Harris, eds. Stalin: A New History, (2006), 310pp, 14 specialized essays by scholars excerpt and text search
  • De Jonge, Alex. Stalin and the Shaping of the Soviet Union (1986)
  • Fitzpatrick, Sheila, ed. Stalinism: New Directions, (1999), 396pp excerpts from many scholars on the impact of Stalinism on the people (little on Stalin himself) online edition
  • Fitzpatrick, Sheila. "Impact of the Opening of Soviet Archives on Western Scholarship on Soviet Social History." Russian Review 743 (2015): 377–400; historiography
  • Hoffmann, David L. ed. Stalinism: The Essential Readings, (2002) essays by 12 scholars
  • Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations (1990)
  • Kershaw, Ian, and Moshe Lewin. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison (2004) excerpt and text search
  • BOOK, Kotkin, Stephen, Stephen Kotkin, 2014, Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878–1928, London, Allen Lane, 978-0-7139-9944-0, 976pp
    • BOOK, Kotkin, Stephen, Stephen Kotkin, 2017, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941, New York, Penguin, 978-1-59420-380-0, ; 1184pp; most detailed scholarly biography
  • Lee, Stephen J. Stalin and the Soviet Union (1999) online edition
  • Lewis, Jonathan. Stalin: A Time for Judgement (1990)
  • McNeal, Robert H. Stalin: Man and Ruler (1988)
  • Martens, Ludo. Another view of Stalin (1994), a highly favorable view from a Maoist historian
  • Service, Robert. Stalin: A Biography (2004), along with Tucker the standard biography
  • Trotsky, Leon. Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence, (1967), an interpretation by Stalin's worst enemy
  • Tucker, Robert C. Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879–1929 (1973); Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Above, 1929–1941. (1990) online edition with Service, a standard biography; at ACLS e-books

World War II

  • Barber, John, and Mark Harrison. The Soviet Home Front: A Social and Economic History of the USSR in World War II, Longman, 1991.
  • Bellamy, Chris. Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War (2008), 880pp excerpt and text search
  • Berkhoff, Karel C. Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule. Harvard U. Press, 2004. 448 pp.
  • Berkhoff, Karel C. Motherland in Danger: Soviet Propaganda during World War II (2012) excerpt and text search covers both propaganda and reality of homefront conditions
  • Braithwaite, Rodric. Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War (2006)
  • Broekmeyer, Marius. Stalin, the Russians, and Their War, 1941–1945. 2004. 315 pp.
  • Dallin, Alexander. Odessa, 1941–1944: A Case Study of Soviet Territory under Foreign Rule. Portland: Int. Specialized Book Service, 1998. 296 pp.
  • Kucherenko, Olga. Little Soldiers: How Soviet Children Went to War, 1941–1945 (2011) excerpt and text search
  • Overy, Richard. The road to war (4th ed. 1999), covers 1930s; pp 245–300.
  • Overy, Richard. Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941–1945 (1998) excerpt and text search
  • Roberts, Geoffrey. Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939–1953 (2006).
  • Schofield, Carey, ed. Russian at War, 1941–1945. Text by Georgii Drozdov and Evgenii Ryabko, [with] introd. by Vladimir Karpov [and] pref. by Harrison E. Salisbury, ed. by Carey Schofield. New York: Vendome Press, 1987. 256 p., copiously ill. with b&2 photos and occasional maps. N.B.: This is mostly a photo-history, with connecting texts. {{ISBN|978-0-86565-077-0}}
  • Seaton, Albert. Stalin as Military Commander, (1998) weblink" title="">online edition
  • Thurston, Robert W., and Bernd Bonwetsch, eds. The People's War: Responses to World War II in the Soviet Union (2000)
  • Vallin, Jacques; Meslé, France; Adamets, Serguei; and Pyrozhkov, Serhii. "A New Estimate of Ukrainian Population Losses During the Crises of the 1930s and 1940s." Population Studies (2002) 56(3): 249–264. in JSTOR Reports life expectancy at birth fell to a level as low as ten years for females and seven for males in 1933 and plateaued around 25 for females and 15 for males in the period 1941–44.

Cold War

  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Failure: The Birth and Death of Communism in the Twentieth Century (1989)
  • Edmonds, Robin. Soviet Foreign Policy: The Brezhnev Years (1983)
  • Goncharov, Sergei, John Lewis and Litai Xue, Uncertain Partners: Stalin, Mao and the Korean War (1993) excerpt and text search
  • Gorlizki, Yoram, and Oleg Khlevniuk. Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945–1953 (2004) online edition
  • Holloway, David. Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–1956 (1996) excerpt and text search
  • Mastny, Vojtech. Russia's Road to the Cold War: Diplomacy, Warfare, and the Politics of Communism, 1941–1945 (1979)
  • Mastny, Vojtech. The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years (1998) excerpt and text search; online complete edition
  • Matlock, Jack. Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended (2005)
  • Nation, R. Craig. Black Earth, Red Star: A History of Soviet Security Policy, 1917–1991 (1992)
  • Sivachev, Nikolai and Nikolai Yakolev, Russia and the United States (1979), by Soviet historians
  • Taubman, William. (Khrushchev: The Man and His Era) (2004), Pulitzer Prize; excerpt and text search
  • Taubman, William. Stalin's American Policy: From Entente to Detente to Cold War (1983).
  • Taubman, William. Gorbachev: His Life and Times (2017).
  • Tint, Herbert. French Foreign Policy since the Second World War (1972) online free to borrow 1945-1971
  • Ulam, Adam B. Expansion and Coexistence: Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1973, 2nd ed. (1974).
  • Wilson, James Graham. The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev's Adaptability, Reagan's Engagement, and the End of the Cold War (2014).
  • Zubok, Vladislav M. Inside the Kremlin's Cold War (1996) 20% excerpt and online search
  • Zubok, Vladislav M. A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (2007)


  • Beschloss, Michael, and Strobe Talbott. At the Highest Levels:The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War (1993)
  • Bialer, Seweryn and Michael Mandelbaum, eds. Gorbachev's Russia and American Foreign Policy (1988).
  • Carrère d'Encausse, Hélène. Decline of an Empire: the Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt. First English language ed. New York: Newsweek Books (1979). 304 p. N.B.: Trans. of the author's L'Empire éclaté. {{ISBN|0-88225-280-1}}
  • Garthoff, Raymond. The Great Transition: American–Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (1994), detailed narrative
  • Grachev, A.S. Gorbachev's Gamble: Soviet Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Hogan, Michael ed. The End of the Cold War. Its Meaning and Implications (1992) articles from Diplomatic History
  • Roger Keeran and Thomas Keeny. Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union, International Publishers Co Inc., US 2004
  • Kotkin, Stephen. Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970–2000 (2008) excerpt and text search
  • Matlock, Jack. Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1995)
  • Pons, S., Romero, F., Reinterpreting the End of the Cold War: Issues, Interpretations, Periodizations, (2005) {{ISBN|0-7146-5695-X}}
  • Remnick, David. Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, (1994), {{ISBN|0-679-75125-4}}
  • Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Rebuilding Russia: Reflections and Tentative Proposals, trans. and annotated by Alexis Klimoff. First ed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991. N.B.: Also discusses the other national constituents of the USSR. {{ISBN|0-374-17342-7}}

Specialty studies

  • Armstrong, John A. The Politics of Totalitarianism: The Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1934 to the Present. New York: Random House, 1961.
  • Katz, Zev, ed.: Handbook of Major Soviet Nationalities (New York: Free Press, 1975).
  • Moore, Jr., Barrington. Soviet politics: the dilemma of power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950.
  • Rizzi, Bruno: The Bureaucratization of the World: The First English edition of the Underground Marxist Classic That Analyzed Class Exploitation in the USSR, New York, NY: Free Press, 1985.
  • Schapiro, Leonard B. The Origin of the Communist Autocracy: Political Opposition in the Soviet State, First Phase 1917–1922. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1955, 1966.

External links

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