Administrative divisions of the Ukrainian SSR

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During its existence from 1919 to 1991, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic consisted of many administrative divisions. Itself part of the highly centralized Soviet Union, sub-national divisions in the Ukrainian SSR were subordinate to higher executive authorities and derived their power from them. Throughout the Ukrainian SSR's history, other national subdivisions were established in the republic, including guberniyas and okrugs, before finally being reorganized into their present structure as oblasts. At the time of the Ukrainian SSR's independence from the Soviet Union, the country was composed of 25 oblasts (provinces) and two cities with special status, Kiev, the capital, and Sevastopol, respectively.

Background[edit]

Prior to the First World War, the Ukrainian lands were integrated into the Imperial Russian structure of guberniyas (Governorate), in turn split into uezds and volosts, some making a larger interim General-Governorate (Southwestern Krai. The map to the right shows the outline of the governorates with regard to modern division of Ukraine. These included Volhynia, Podolia, Kiev, Poltava, Kharkov and Taurida, Kherson, Yekaterinoslav, the larger part of Chernigov Governorate, small parts of Bessarabia, Kursk and Don Host Oblast, and bordering regions of the Minsk and Orel Governorates. The structure has remained stable throughout the 19th century, with minor variations. In 1912, and additional Kholm Governorate was formed out of Vistula Land and passed to the Southwestern Krai.

Ukraine's modern border superimposed on the administrative division of 1900 for both the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires.

After the February Revolution in Petrograd, the Central Council of Ukraine was proclaimed in Kiev, initially as an autonomous entity within future Russia. The Russian Provisional Government recognised the competency of this administration of only five Ukrainian governorates: Kiev, Chernigov, Poltava, Podolia and Volhynia, though the latter was partially occupied by the German army.

The Central Council of Ukraine saw the reforming of the Governorate system into 32 lands (zemlyas).
The Ukrainian State restored the Russian Governorate system of administration, and also created two national districts in the northwest.

The October Revolution changed all that, shortly afterwards, particularly after the Bolsheviks forcefully dissolved the Russian Constituent Assembly, to which the Rada sent its delegates it proclaimed, the Council proclaimed Ukrainian independence. In an attempt to reform the administration, a set of 32 zemlyas (lands) were proposed. In addition, the Council sought to broaden its influence and negotiations were underway with the Crimean Tatar and Kuban Cossack republics for their joining of an anti-Bolshevik coalition, to be led by Ukraine.

To challenge the Council's attempt, a Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets was established as an alternative government of Ukraine, and the Red Guards soon invaded and overran most of the country in February 1918. With the help of local Bolsheviks Soviet Republics were founded in Crimea, Odessa and Southeastern Ukraine. In March, these were united into a single Ukrainian Soviet Republic.

Seeing the chaos under a signed settlement the German Army invaded Ukraine, and occupying it established a loyal, and conservative Hetmanate in March 1918, who restored the Russian Governorates, in their former borders, including the Kholm Governorate, but excluding the Crimean peninsula, where the German authorities created a separate government. The German authorities did however pass the Polessia district to Ukraine, including the Belarusian cities of Brest, Pinsk and Mozyr, due to the disagreements between the German command and the Belarusian People's Republic.

Skoropadsky hoped to see Ukraine becoming a nexus for an anti-Soviet force, and was keen on negotiating with Anton Denikin's White Movement, however in November 1918 the Central Powers declared their surrender. Uprisings across the whole of Ukraine commenced, including those by Nestor Makhno, Nikifor Grigoriev and Mishka Yaponchik, and in the Spring of 1919, the Red Army once again overrun most of Ukraine, with the exception of Western regions, where the Ukrainian Directorate retained its authority.

After this point, the Ukrainian republic lost its initiative. In Summer of 1919, Anton Denikin's White Army liberated most of Ukraine from the Bolsheviks, whilst Western Ukraine, temporarily united with the Directorate government by Act Zluky since January, was overran by Poland in same time period. In Autumn of 1919, fortune was again in hands of the Red Army, driving the Whites out of Ukraine, except Crimea, where Baron Wrangel retained a stronghold.

Governorates[edit]

Administrative divisions in 1921 consisted of guberniyas and uyezds.

Until the Riga Peace Treaty with Poland on 18 March 1921 the Ukrainian SSR had the governotorial administrative division of Imperial Russia and consisted of ten guberniyas. That administrative division was confirmed during the establishment of the Ukrainian State in 1918 when the Red Army withdrew from Ukraine following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Central Powers.

  1. Chernihiv Governorate
  2. Katerynoslav Governorate
  3. Kharkiv Governorate
  4. Kherson Governorate, later reformed into Odessa Governorate
  5. Kiev Governorate
  6. Podillia Governorate
  7. Poltava Governorate
  8. Volhynia Governorate

In 1920-1921 series of territorial changes took place as well as changing in administrative division.

16 April 1920
18 March 1921 (Peace of Riga)
21 October 1922

Okruhas[edit]

Main article: Okruhas of Ukraine

Oblasts[edit]

Subdivisions in 1953, pictured with 25 oblasts; Crimea would be transferred in 1954 and the Drohobych and Izmail oblasts would be absorbed by the Lviv and Odessa oblasts respectively.

Initial development[edit]

The raion system proved very difficult to administer wholly, and on February 27, 1932 they were grouped into five oblasts, though Moldovian ASSR was kept:

The latter two, were soon partitioned in same year to create the following two oblasts:

It was during this configuration, that Ukraine underwent the first two five-year plans, (a consequence of which was the catastrophic Holodomor famine in 1933), and the collectivization and industrialization that they brought. In 1934 the capital moved to Kiev, and on 30 January 1937, the Supreme Rada of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic adopted its version of the 1936 Soviet Constitution creating the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. To meet the economic and social demands, a restructure in the administrative division was initiated, and 22 September 1937 four more oblasts were added to the existing seven.

As the Donbas continued to grow both industrially and in population, on 3 July 1938, the Donetsk Oblast was effectively split into two:

In a further re-structure 10 January 1939 the twelve existing oblasts and one republic were joined by a further three:

Western Ukraine[edit]

Western Ukraine, being part of Austria-Hungary, was itself split into three distinct groups. The majority was Eastern Galicia, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, whose 35 districts have made their way into present Ukraine wholly, a further six partially and bordering territory of a further two of the 75 that made up the kingdom.

The Duchy of Bukowina was an additional territory, that contained a further eight districts of which four are now wholly in Ukraine, and half of the fifth. Outside the Cisleithania, in the Hungarian Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen. Of its 75 counties, Ukraine now owns four.

During World War I, Russia invaded and occupied Eastern Galicia, with plans to incorporate the region into the Empire. A separate General-Governorate was established that incorporated the Lvov and Tarnopol Governorates on the occupied land, to whom the Premyshl and Chernovitsy were soon added. However the Russian occupation was short-lived.

Start of World War II[edit]

After the Soviet invasion of Poland and the resulting annexation of its eastern half by the USSR, six new oblasts were established in Western Ukraine on 4 December 1939:

In late June 1940 the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina from the Kingdom of Romania. On the 28th of June 1940, the Moldavian SSR, a full Union republic was formed out of most of Bessarabia and Moldavian ASSR that Ukraine gave up. In return it gained the Northern Bukovina province and the southern Budjak region from Bessarabia. The new territories were integrated into Ukraine on 7 August 1940, as respectively:

The former was renamed to Izmail Oblast on 7 December 1940, and the centre moved to Izmail. Thus, in the prelude of Soviet Union's entry to WWII, Ukraine gained eight new Oblasts, which combined with the fifteen existing previously, brought a total to twenty three.

German occupation[edit]

For more details on the administrative division during Nazi Germany occupation, see Reichskommissariat Ukraine.

As the Red Army liberated Ukraine throughout 1943/1944, several changes were made including complete reinstatement of the existed oblasts prior to the World War II. On 29 March 1944 the city of Chernivitsi was renamed to Chernivtsi as was the oblast. In a similar fashion Tarnopil became Ternopil on 15 April 1944.

The liberation left a German occupied zone in Crimea and Taurida. To facilitate the Crimean Offensive, on 30 March 1944, a new twenty fourth oblast was created in Taurida:

Post World War II[edit]

After the war ended, the Carpathian Ruthenia province of Czechoslovakia was passed to the USSR and on 21 January 1946, the territory was annexed to Ukraine as the

During the post-war rebuilding the administrative division remained stable. However the political aftermath following Death of Stalin in 1953 brought a number of re-organisation policies into Ukraine. Already, on 7 January 1954, a new entity was created in central Ukraine via donation of bordering raions from neighbouring oblasts, called

In the prelude to the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslavl on 4 February, the city of Proskuriv was renamed to Khmelnytskyi, after the historic Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, along with the oblast. On 19 February the Izmail Oblast was disbanded and merged with the Odessa Oblast. However, arguably the most significant change in 1954 was the transfer of Crimea from the Russian SFSR, and thus Ukraine gained the

After the political defeat of the so-called Anti-Party Group, consisting of famous politicians such as Vyacheslav Molotov and Lazar Kaganovich, a nationwide renaming campaign was undertaken. To ensure further disturbances of such manner be avoided, in early 1958 Moscow passed a decree not to name any object or locale in honour of a living person, and on 5 March 1958, the city of Voroshylovhrad (bearing the name of its native, Kliment Voroshilov) was renamed to its historical name of Luhansk as was the oblast.

The Drohobych Oblast, being a smallest in territory from the start, since its creation has been continuously reduce in size, ceding three raions to the Polish Committee of National Liberation in autumn 1944 (including the city of Peremyshl). Another raion (village of Medyka) followed in May 1948, and losing a further 480 km² of territory in 1951 to the now People's Republic of Poland. The rural oblast also proving to be economically inefficient and was thus disbanded and its territory passed to the Lviv Oblast on 21 May 1959. The latter would be the last major change of internal borders of Ukraine's administrative divisions until present day, the oblast count would stay stable at twenty five all right up to the republic's independence in 1991.

Minor changes would continue nonetheless. The 22nd Congress of the CPSU initiated a cosmetic phase to the De-Stalinization programme by breaking Joseph Stalin's cult of personality. On 9 November 1961, the city of Staline was renamed to Donetsk and the oblast followed suit. Exactly a year later, the city and oblast of Stanislaviv was renamed to Ivano-Frankivsk in honour of the Ukrainian writer and poet Ivan Franko. Following the death of Kliment Voroshilov in December 1969, the city and oblast of Luhansk once again became Voroshylovhrad on 5 January 1970.

This arrangement would enter a stable phase right into the perestroika. On 4 May 1990 Voroshylovhrad would be once again reverted to Luhansk, along with the oblast. On 11 June 1991, the city of Rovno was renamed to Rivne, the oblast too. However, the most significant change took place on 12 February 1991, when the Crimean Oblast would re-establish as the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which it held as part of the Russian SFSR until 18 May 1944, and would declare sovereignty on 4 September.

The present Administrative division of Ukraine have retained the Soviet-time arrangement, though legal formalities such as the Crimea's status as an Autonomous republic and the status of Sevastopol would be settled in the mid-1990s.

See also[edit]

References[edit]