List of heads of state of the Soviet Union

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Heads of state of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Former political post
Coat of arms of the Soviet Union.svg
Predecessor None
Successor President of the Russian Federation
First officeholder Mikhail Kalinin
Last officeholder Mikhail Gorbachev
Official residence Moscow Kremlin
Office began 30 December 1922
Office ended 25 December 1991
Current pretender Position abolished

The Constitution of the Soviet Union recognised the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the earlier Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Congress of Soviets as the highest organs of state authority in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The Chairman of these bodies performed the largely ceremonial functions of a head of state[1] but held little real power.

The Soviet Union was established in 1922. However, the country's first constitution was adopted in 1924. Before that time, the 1918 Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was adopted as the constitution of the USSR. According to the 1918 Constitution, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC), whose chairman was head of state, had the power to determine what matters of income and taxation would go to the state budget and what would go to the local Soviets. The CEC could also limit taxes.[2] In periods between convocations of the Congress of Soviets the CEC held supreme power.[3] In between sessions of the Congress of Soviets the CEC was responsible for all the affairs of the Congress of Soviets.[4] The CEC and the Congress of Soviets was replaced by the Presidium and the Supreme Soviet by several amendments to the 1936 constitution in 1938.[5]

The Supreme Soviet was the highest organ of state power, and was the sole organ to hold legislative power in the Soviet Union.[5] Sessions of the Supreme Soviet were convened by the Presidium twice a year; however, special sessions could be convened on the orders of a Union Republic.[5] In the event of a disagreement between the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities the Presidium could form a conciliation commission. If this commission failed the Presidium could dissolve the Supreme Soviet and order new elections.[5] The Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, along with first and fifteen other vice chairmen, were, according to the 1977 Soviet Constitution, elected by the deputies of the Supreme Soviet.[6] Just as with the CEC under Joseph Stalin's rule, the Chairman of the Presidium had very little power because supreme power was in the hands of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).[7]

The Presidency was established in 1990 and the President would, according to the altered constitution, be elected by the Soviet people by direct and secret ballot. However, the first and only Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, was elected by the democratically-elected Congress of People's Deputies.[8] In connection with the dissolution of the Soviet Union national elections for the office of President never took place. To be elected to the office a person must have been a Soviet citizen and older than thirty-five but younger than sixty-five years. The same person could not be elected president for more than two terms.[9] The Presidency was highest state office, and was the most important office in the Soviet Union by influence and recognition, eclipsing that of Premier and General Secretary. With the establishment of the Presidency executive power was shared between the President and the Prime Minister. The Presidency was given broad powers, such as being responsible for negotiating the membership of the Cabinet of Ministers with the Supreme Soviet;[10] the Prime Minister, however, was responsible for managing the nomenklatura and economic matters.[11]

List of heads of state[edit]

Of the eleven individuals appointed head of state, three died in office of natural causes (Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko), one held the position in a temporary role (Vasili Kuznetsov), and four held posts of party leader and head of state simultaneously (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and Mikhail Gorbachev). The first head of state was Mikhail Kalinin, who was inaugurated in 1922 after the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR. At over twenty years, Kalinin spent the longest time in office; he died shortly after his resignation in 1946. Andropov spent the shortest time in office.

#
[note 1]
Name
(birth–death)
Portrait Term of office Convocations
[note 2]
1
Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets (1922–1938)
Mikhail Kalinin
(1875–1946)[12]
Калинин М. И. (1920).jpg 30 December 1922 – 12 January 1938 1st8th Convocation
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1938–1989)
Mikhail Kalinin
(1875–1946)[12]
Калинин М. И. (1920).jpg 17 January 1938 – 19 March 1946 1st Convocation
2 Nikolay Shvernik
(1888–1970)[13]
A picture taken by the Soviet Government of Nikolai Shvernik in grey 19 March 1946 – 6 March 1953 2nd3rd Convocation
3 Kliment Voroshilov
(1881–1969)[14]
A photo taken in 1937 of Kliment Voroshilov 15 March 1953 – 7 May 1960 3rd5th Convocation
4 Leonid Brezhnev
(1906–1982)[15]
An official portrait of Leonid Brezhnev dating back to 1977 7 May 1960 – 15 July 1964 5th6th Convocation
5 Anastas Mikoyan
(1895–1978)[16]
The photo depicts Anastas Mikoyan as seen on his state visit to the German Democratic Republic in April 1954 15 July 1964 – 9 December 1965 6th Convocation
6 Nikolai Podgorny
(1903–1983)[17]
Nikolai Podgorny as depicted during his visit to the German Democratic Republic in 1963 9 December 1965 – 16 June 1977 6th9th Convocation
4 Leonid Brezhnev
(1906–1982)[15]
An official portrait of Leonid Brezhnev dating back to 1977 16 June 1977 – 10 November 1982 9th10th Convocation
Vasili Kuznetsov
(1901–1990)[18]
Kuznetzov 43062X8X18.JPG 10 November 1982 – 16 June 1983 10th Convocation
7 Yuri Andropov
(1914–1984)[19]
Yuri Andropov as seen in 1963 in the German Democratic Republic 16 June 1983 – 9 February 1984
Vasili Kuznetsov
(1901–1990)[18]
Kuznetzov 43062X8X18.JPG 9 February 1984 – 11 April 1984 11th Convocation
8 Konstantin Chernenko
(1911–1985)[19]
Chernenko as depicted during Nicolae Ceauşescu's state visit to Moscow 11 April 1984 – 10 March 1985
Vasili Kuznetsov
(1901–1990)[18]
Kuznetzov 43062X8X18.JPG 10 March 1985 – 27 July 1985
9 Andrei Gromyko
(1909–1989)[20]
Gromyko at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe 27 July 1985 – 1 October 1988
10 Mikhail Gorbachev
(born 1931)[21]
Mikhail Gorbachev as depicted during his state visit to the United States in 1987 1 October 1988 – 25 May 1989 11th12th Convocation
Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (1989–1990)[note 3]
Mikhail Gorbachev
(born 1931)[21]
Mikhail Gorbachev as depicted during his state visit to the United States in 1987 25 May 1989 – 15 March 1990 12th Convocation
President (1990–1991)
Mikhail Gorbachev
(born 1931)[21]
Mikhail Gorbachev as depicted during his state visit to the United States in 1987 15 March 1990 – 25 December 1991 12th Convocation

List of vice heads of state[edit]

There have been four individuals appointed vice head of state. At over eight years, Vasily Kuznetsov spent the longest time in office. Gennady Yanayev spent the shortest time in office.

#
[note 1]
Name
(birth–death)
Portrait Term of office Convocations
[note 2]
First Vice Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (1977–1989)
1 Vasili Kuznetsov
(1901–1990)[18]
Kuznetzov 43062X8X18.JPG 7 October 1977 – 18 June 1986 9th11th Convocation
2 Pyotr Demichev
(1917–2010)[23]
18 June 1986 – 1 October 1988 11th Convocation
3 Anatoly Lukyanov
(born 1930)[24]
1 October 1988 – 25 May 1989 11th12th Convocation
Vice Chairman of the Supreme Soviet (1989–1990)
Anatoly Lukyanov
(born 1930)[24]
25 May 1989 – 15 March 1990 12th Convocation
Vice President (1990–1991)
4 Gennady Yanayev
(1937–2010)[25]
27 December 1990 – 21 August 1991[note 4] 12th Convocation
Office abolished[27] 21 August 1991 – 26 December 1991[note 5]

See also[edit]

Coat of arms of the Soviet Union.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Soviet Union
 
Soviet Union-related
Russia-related

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Repeat head of state and vice heads of state are numbered only once; subsequent terms are marked with their original number italicised. Acting heads of state are not numbered. These numbers are not official.
  2. ^ a b A convocation in the Soviet sense of the word were elected members of Parliament in between elections.
  3. ^ On 15 March 1990 most constitutional powers were transferred to the newly created office of President of the Soviet Union. Anatoly Lukyanov was elected Chairman of the Supreme Soviet to replace Mikhail Gorbachev. Although the Chairman's office retained its name, it was now that of a parliamentary speaker, not a head of state. Real executive powers were retained by Gorbachev.[22]
  4. ^ Yanayev was Acting President of the Soviet Union during the August Coup of 1991, but was jailed following the coup's collapse and Gorbachev returned to his post as President.[26]
  5. ^ Following the failed August Coup of 1991 the State Council was given the power to elect a Vice President in the temporary absence of the President.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Isham, Heyward (1995). Remaking Russia. M.E. Sharpe. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-56324-436-0. 
  2. ^ Всероссийский съезд Советов. Статья №81 от 10 июля 1918 г. «Бюджетное право». (All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Article #81 of 10 July 1918 The Budget. ).
  3. ^ Всероссийский съезд Советов. Статья №30 от 10 июля 1918 г. «О Всероссийском съезде Советов рабочих, крестьянских, казачьих и красноармейских депутатов». (All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Article #30 of 10 July 1918 The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Cossacks', and Red Army Deputies. ).
  4. ^ Всероссийский съезд Советов. Статья №29 от 10 июля 1918 г. «О Всероссийском съезде Советов рабочих, крестьянских, казачьих и красноармейских депутатов». (All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Article #29 of 10 July 1918 The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Cossacks', and Red Army Deputies. ).
  5. ^ a b c d Съезд Советов СССР. Статья №30–56 от 10 июля1918 г. «Высшие органы государственной власти Союза Советских Социалистических Республик». (Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union. Article #30–56 of 10 July 1918 The Highest Organs of State Authority of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. ).
  6. ^ Верховный Совет СССР. Статья №120 от 7 октября 1977 г. «Верховный Совет СССР». (Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Article #120  The Supreme Soviet of the USSR. ).
  7. ^ Service, Robert (2005). Stalin: A Biography. Harvard University Press. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-674-01697-2. 
  8. ^ Kort, Michael (2010). The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath. M.E. Sharpe. p. 394. ISBN 978-0-7656-2387-4. 
  9. ^ Верховный Совет СССР. Статья №127.1 от 26 декабря 1990 г. «Президент СССР». (Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Article #127.1 of 26 December 1990 President of the USSR. ).
  10. ^ Huskey, Eugene (1992). Executive Power and Soviet Politics: The Rise and Decline of the Soviet State. M.E. Sharpe. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-56324-059-1. 
  11. ^ Huskey, Eugene (1999). Presidential Power in Russia. M.E. Sharpe. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-56324-536-7. 
  12. ^ a b Shepilov, Dmitri]]; Austin, Anthony; Bittner, Stephen (2007). The Kremlin's Scholar: A Memoir of Soviet Politics under Stalin and Khrushchev. Yale University Press. p. 413. ISBN 978-0-300-09206-6. 
  13. ^ Shepilov, Dmitri]]; Austin, Anthony; Bittner, Stephen (2007). The Kremlin's Scholar: A Memoir of Soviet Politics under Stalin and Khrushchev. Yale University Press. p. 441. ISBN 978-0-300-09206-6. 
  14. ^ Shepilov, Dmitri]]; Austin, Anthony; Bittner, Stephen (2007). The Kremlin's Scholar: A Memoir of Soviet Politics under Stalin and Khrushchev. Yale University Press. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-300-09206-6. 
  15. ^ a b Bliss Eaton, Katherine (2004). Daily Life in the Soviet Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-313-31628-9. 
  16. ^ Shepilov, Dmitri]]; Austin, Anthony; Bittner, Stephen (2007). The Kremlin's Scholar: A Memoir of Soviet Politics under Stalin and Khrushchev. Yale University Press. p. 404. ISBN 978-0-300-09206-6. 
  17. ^ Ploss, Sidney (2010). The Roots of Perestroika: the Soviet Breakdown in Historical Context. McFarland & Company. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-7864-4486-1. 
  18. ^ a b c d Кузнецов Василий Васильевич [Vasili Vasilyevich Kuznetsov] (in Russian). World History on the Internet. Retrieved 7 December 2010. 
  19. ^ a b Ploss, Sidney (2010). The Roots of Perestroika: the Soviet Breakdown in Historical Context. McFarland & Company. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-7864-4486-1. 
  20. ^ Ploss, Sidney (2010). The Roots of Perestroika: the Soviet Breakdown in Historical Context. McFarland & Company. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-7864-4486-1. 
  21. ^ a b c Bliss Eaton, Katherine (2004). Daily Life in the Soviet Union. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-313-31628-9. 
  22. ^ Anderson, John (1994). Religion, state, and politics in the Soviet Union and successor states. Cambridge University Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-521-46784-1. 
  23. ^ Петр Демичев : Умер министр культуры СССР Петр Демичев [The Minister of Culture of the USSR Pyotr Demichev dies] (in Russian). Peoples.ru (Lenta.Ru). Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  24. ^ a b Evtuhov, Catherine; Stites, Richard (2004). A History of Russia: Peoples, Legends, Events, Forces since 1800. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 474. ISBN 978-0-395-66073-7. 
  25. ^ Schwirz, Michael (24 September 2010). "Gennadi I. Yanayev, 73, Soviet Coup Plotter, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  26. ^ Staff writer (10 February 2011). "Soviet Coup Leader Gennady Yanayev Dies". BBC Online. Retrieved 8 December 2010. 
  27. ^ a b Government of the USSR: Gorbachev, Mikhail (5 September 1991). Закон "Об органах государственной власти и управления Союза ССР в переходный период" [Law: On the bodies of State Authority and Administration of the USSR in the Period of Transition] (in Russian). Soyuz Sovietskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik. Retrieved 13 February 2011.