Republics of the Soviet Union

Republics of the Soviet Union

The Republics of the Soviet Union were, according to the Article 76 of the 1977 Soviet Constitution, Sovereign Soviet Socialist states that had united with other Soviet Republics to become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union, for short. Article 81 of the Constitution stated that "the sovereign rights of Union Republics shall be safeguarded by the USSR". [ [ Federalism and the Dictatorship of Power in Russia By Mikhail Stoliarov; p. 56 ISBN 041530153X] ]

According to the European Court of Human Rights, [European Court of Human Rights cases on Occupation of Baltic States] , the United Nations Human Rights Council [ [| UNITED NATIONS Human Rights Council Report] ] , the governments of the Baltic countries, [ [ The Occupation of Latvia ] at Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia ] [ [ Estonia says Soviet occupation justifies it staying away from Moscow celebrations - Pravda.Ru ] ] the United States, [ U.S.-Baltic Relations: Celebrating 85 Years of Friendship] at ] and the European Union, [ [ Motion for a resolution on the Situation in Estonia] by EU] the three Soviet Baltic republics (Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR) were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 under the provisions of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The Russian government and state officials, however, maintain that the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states was legitimate. [ [ Russia denies Baltic 'occupation'] by BBC News]

In the final decades of its existence, the Soviet Union consisted of fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics (SSR), often called simply Soviet Republics. Within the USSR they were also called union republics ( _ru. союзные республики, "soyuznye respubliki"). All of them were considered to be socialist republics, and all of them, with the exception of the Russian SFSR, had their own Communist parties, part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. All of the former Republics are now independent countries, with twelve of them (all except the Baltic states) being very loosely organized under the heading of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Constitutionally, the Soviet Union was a federation. In accordance with Article 72 of the 1977 Constitution, each republic retained the right to secede from the USSR. Throughout the Cold War, this right was widely considered to be meaningless; however, Article 72 was used in December 1991 to effectively dissolve the Soviet Union, when Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus seceded from the Union.

In practice, the USSR was a highly centralised entity from its creation in 1922 until the mid-1980s when political forces unleashed by reforms undertaken by Mikhail Gorbachev resulted in the loosening of central control and its ultimate collapse. Under the constitution adopted in 1936 and modified along the way until October 1977, the political foundation of the Soviet Union was formed by the Soviets (Councils) of People's Deputies. These existed at all levels of the administrative hierarchy, with the Soviet Union as a whole under the nominal control of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, located in Moscow.

Along with the state administrative hierarchy, there existed a parallel structure of party organizations, which allowed the Politburo to exercise large amounts of control over the republics. State administrative organs took direction from the parallel party organs, and appointments of all party and state officials required approval of the central organs of the party. General practice in the republics outside of Russia was that the head of state in a republic was a local official while the party general secretary was from outside the republic.

Each republic had its own unique set of state symbols: a flag, a coat of arms, and, with the exception of the Russian SFSR, an anthem. Every republic of the Soviet Union also was awarded with the Order of Lenin.

The republics and the collapse of the Soviet Union

The republics played an important role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, glasnost and perestroika were intended to revive the Soviet Union. However, they had a number of effects which caused the power of the republics to increase. First, political liberalization allowed the governments within the republics to gain legitimacy by invoking democracy, nationalism or a combination of both. In addition, liberalization led to fractures within the party hierarchy which reduced Soviet control over the republics. Finally, perestroika allowed the governments of the republics to control economic assets in their republics and withhold funds from the central government.

Throughout the late 1980s, the Soviet government attempted to find a new structure which would reflect the increasing power of the republics. These efforts proved unsuccessful, and in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed as the republic governments seceded. The republics then all became independent states, with the post-Soviet governments in most cases consisting largely of the government personnel of the former Soviet republics.

oviet Union in its final state

Republics of the Soviet Union

Independent nations


Other Soviet republics

*An attempt to declare a Polish Soviet Socialist Republic was made during the Soviet assault in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919–1920 by the Polish Provisional Revolutionary Committee headed by Julian Marchlewski in Białystok. However, in spite of a very popular belief, Poland has never been an actual Soviet Republic.
*Under the threat of intervention, the formally independent Far Eastern Republic was carved out of Russian territory to become a buffer state on April 6, 1920, and was again merged with Russia on November 15, 1922. Its capital was Verkhneudinsk (now Ulan-Ude) before October 1920, and then Chita.
*Tuva was a country located between Mongolia and Russia, formally independent between 1911 and 1914, and then again between 1921 and 1944. In 1921 local Bolsheviks proclaimed the Tuvinian People's Republic, and in 1944 the country was annexed by Soviet Union, becoming a part of the Russian SFSR.
*Between December 16, 1921 and February 19, 1931 the Abkhazian SSR had confederal relations with the Georgian SSR through a special union treaty. The Abkhazian SSR within Georgian SSR existed in Transcaucasian SFSR (but not in USSR directly) from December 13, 1922. [Lak'oba, Stanislav: "History: 1917 -1989" in "The Abkhazians a handbook" by Curzon Press, Richmond, Surrey, 1999.] [ [ ::Rrc:: ] ]
*Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia were from 1922 until 1936 organized in the Transcaucasian SFSR.
*The Karelo-Finnish SSR existed between March 31, 1940 and July 16, 1956.


*1922 - Georgian SSR, Armenian SSR and Azerbaijan SSR form Transcaucasian SFSR
*1922 - Soviet Union formed from Russian SFSR, Transcaucasian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR, and Byelorussian SSR
*1924 - Uzbek SSR and Turkmen SSR are formed from the Turkestan ASSR in the Russian SFSR.
*1929 - Tajik SSR split from Uzbek SSR
*1936 - In compliance with 1936 Soviet Constitution "Kazakh ASSR" and "Kirghiz ASSR" were split from RSFSR and transformed into Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR
*1936 - Transcaucasian SFSR split into Georgian SSR, Armenian SSR and Azerbaijan SSR.
*1939 - Part of southeastern Finland occupied and formed into a nominally independent Finnish Democratic Republic (so-called Terijoki Government)
*1940 - Finnish Democratic Republic annexed into USSR and merged with Karelian ASSR to form Karelo-Finnish SSR
*1940 - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania transformed into Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, Lithuanian SSR, and annexed. [Gunnar Alexandersson, "The Baltic Straits" (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982), ISBN 90-247-2595-X, p. 44.]
*1940 - Part of Ukraine's Moldavian ASSR made into Moldavian SSR along with territory annexed from Romania
*1941 - Lithuania revolts and proclaims independence but is soon occupied by Germany. [lt icon Gediminas Zemlickas, "Apie Birželio sukilimą ir Lietuvos laikinąją vyriausybę" (Interview with Algimantas Liekis on June Uprising and Provisional Government of Lithuania), Mokslo Lietuva, [ Part I] March 9, 2000, No. 5 (207) and [ Part II] April 6-19, 2000, No. 7 (209).]
*1944 - The Soviet Union annexes the Tuvinian People's Republic, which is then made a part of the Russian SFSR.
*1944-1945 - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and parts of Finland re-occupied by Soviet Union.
*1956 - Karelo-Finnish SSR became the Karelian ASSR within Russian SFSR again
*1990 - Lithuania declares independence [Pernille Hohnen, "Market Out of Place?: Remaking Economic, Social, and Symbolic Boundaries in Post-Communist Lithuania" (Oxford University Press, 2004), ISBN 0-19-926762-6, p. 10.] [David J Smith, Artis Pabriks, Aldis Purs, and Thomas Lane, "The Baltic States" (Routledge (UK), 2002), ISBN 0-415-28580-1, p. 61.] .
*1991 - Estonia and Latvia declare independence.
*1991 - Union dissolves, rest of union republics become independent.


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