From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Volost (Belarusian: во́ласць, romanizedvolasts; Russian: во́лость [ˈvoləsʲtʲ]; Ukrainian: во́лость) was a traditional administrative subdivision in Kievan Rus', the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and the Russian Empire.


The Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890–1907) states that the origins of the concept is unclear: whether it originally referred to an administrative subdivision or to a peasant obshchina, the term referring to a territory under a single rule.[1]

In earlier East Slavic history, in the lands of Ruthenia, volost was a name for the territory ruled by the knyaz, a principality; either as an absolute ruler or with varying degree of autonomy from the Velikiy Knyaz (Grand Prince). Starting from the end of the 14th century, volost was a unit of administrative division in Grand Duchy of Lithuania,[citation needed] Poland,[citation needed] Muscovy,[1] lands of modern Latvia[citation needed] and Ukraine. Since about the 16th century it was a part of provincial districts that were called "uezd" in Muscovy and the later Russian Empire. Each uezd had several volosts that were subordinated to the uezd city.

After the abolition of Russian serfdom in 1861, volost became a unit of peasant's local self-rule. A number of mirs are united into a volost, which has an assembly consisting of elected delegates from the mirs. These elect an elder (starshina) and, hitherto, a court of justice (volostnoy sud). The self-government of the mirs and volosts was, however, tempered by the authority of the police commissaries (stanovoi) and by the power of general oversight given to the nominated "district committees for the affairs of the peasants".[2]

Volosts were abolished by the Soviet administrative reform of 1923–1929. Raions may be roughly called a modern equivalent of both volosts and uezds.


Volosts were governed by volost administration (волостное правление, volostnoye pravleniye), which consisted of the electable chief of volost (volostnoy starshina), chiefs of villages (village starostas) and other officials electable by the Volost Assembly (волостной сход, volostnoy skhod).[3]

Volost Court was the court electable by the Volost Assembly, which could handle smaller civil and criminal cases. It could sentence people to corporal punishment, fine or short-term incarceration.[3]

Russian Federation[edit]

In modern Russia, the term has a different meaning. The subdivision into volosts was used in the Republic of Karelia, where volosts had the same status as raions, [citation needed] and in Leningrad, Pskov, Samara, and Tula Oblasts, where volosts are considered subdivisions of raions and have the same status as selsovets in other Russian federal subjects.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b  "Волость" . Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (in Russian). 1906.
  2. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPhillips, Walter Alison (1911). "Russia". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 874–878.
  3. ^ a b Large Encyclopedic Dictionary, vol. 1, Moscow, 1991