A lishenets (Russian: лишенец, IPA: [lʲɪˈʂenʲɪt͡s]), lit. лишение deprivation + -ец -ee; "disenfranchised"; plural lishentsy, Russian: лишенцы) was a person stripped of the right of voting in the Soviet Union of 1918–1936. Disfranchisement was a means of repression of the categories of population that were classified as "enemies of the working people".
The 1918 Soviet Constitution enumerated the categories of disenfranchised people:
- Persons who used hired labor to obtain increase in profits
- Persons who have income without doing any work, such as interests from capital, receipts from property, etc.
- Private merchants, trade and commercial brokers
- Monks and clergy of all denominations
- Persons who were policemen or military officers before Soviet Revolution
- Persons who have been declared demented or mentally deficient, persons under guardianship, etc.
The 1924 Soviet Constitution and subsequent decrees detailed this list further and added new categories. Being disenfranchised meant much more than simply being disallowed to vote or be elected. A lishenets could not occupy any governmental position, or receive higher and technical education. S/he was deprived of various privileges and subsidies: employment, housing, retirement, etc. S/he could not be a member of kolkhozes and other kinds of cooperatives.
Members of the family whose head was lishenets were automatically disenfranchised. The voting rights could be restored by local election commissions upon the proof of engagement in productive labor and of the loyalty to the Soviet power. The ultimate authorities were the Central Election Commission and Presidium of the Central Executive Committee.
The 1936 Soviet Constitution instituted universal suffrage, and the category of lishenets was officially eliminated. Nevertheless, for a long time after 1936, Soviet citizens applying for any job had to make a statement if they or their family members were ever deprived of voting rights so they still fell into a disenfranchised category.