USSR Government

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  • Created by: rakso181
  • Created on: 17-05-16 08:36

Lenin (1917-24): Constituent Assembly (Jan 1918)

- Bolsheviks (175 seats, 9 mill votes), SRs (410 seats, 21 mill votes)

-Lenin scraps Constituent Assembly and uses All-Russian Congress of Soviets

-Bourgeois have no right to vote

-1921 - other parties banned

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Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

-Quick end to WW1

-Hurts Russian pride - many want to fight against the Bolsheviks (The Whites)

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The 10th Party Congress (Mar 1921)

-Focus on division within Party

-Party membership - 300k to 630k by 1921

-Lenin puts forward 'one party unit'

-Ban on internal factions

-NEP decided on

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The Russian Civil War (1918-21)

-Bolsheviks (Reds), Anti-Bolsheviks (Whites)

-Reds win due to:

  • Better organisation
  • More motivation
  • Effective Red Army
  • Banning of newspapers and other parties
  • Closing of Constituent Assembly
  • Creation of Secret Police (Cheka)

-Creates a highly centralised state with power in Bolshevik hands

-Extensive use of terror established

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Apparatus of Government

-Lenin needs clear line of authority to make decisions

-Sovnarkom - elected by Central Committee - elected by Congress of Soviets 

-Congress of Soviets approve Sovnarkom laws and are local representatives

-Party use government influence to have their laws rubber-stamped

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Party control

- Early 20s - power shifts from government to party

- Politburo meet daily - elected by Central Committee - elected by Party Congress (meet yearly) 

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Democratic Centralism

- Soviets represent workers at local level

- Take any concerns to higher levels - 'interests of the people'

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Stalin (1928-53): General Secretary

- Access to 26K personal files on Party members

-Lenin Enroulment 1923-25 - increase amount of industrial workers in Party

-Decides agenda of party meetings

-Can appoint people to Party positions and remove his opponents

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Left Opponents

- Trotsky

- Kamenev

- Zinoviev 

- Want 'permanent revolution' throughout the world

- 1926 - Expelled from Party and Politburo 

- 1928 - Kam. and Zin. re-admitted after renowning their views. Trotsky exiled from Soviet Union

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Right Opponents

- Bukharin

- Tomsky

- Rykov

- Want continuation of NEP and socialism in one country

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Purges of the 30s: Opposition

- 1932 -Ryutin (former P. Sec.) publishes highly critical document of Stalin

- Brutality used in collec. - leads to peasant resistance

- Officials critical of unrealistic targets in FYPs

- 'Congress of Victors' - many members pressure Kirov to present criticisms to Stalin

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Purges of the 30s: Terror

- Secret Police carry out surveillance, arrests and executions

- Gulag

- NKVD 1934 dominates whole police force

- Stalin's power as Party Secretary


- Removal of officials who disagree with agric. policies to speed up 1st FYP

- 1935 - 22% Party removed 

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Purges of the 30s: Murder of Sergey Kirov (4 Dec 1

- Assassinated by Leonid Nikolayev

- Felt his talents weren't appreciated and thought Kirov was cheating with his wife

- Rumours it was carried out on Stalin's orders

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Show Trials (1936-38)

- Trials of 16 (Aug 1936) - left opponents (Kam. and Zin.) confess to working with Trotsky and to crimes they didn't do like Kirov's murder

- Trials of 17 (Sep 1937) - purge officials like Radek and Pyatakov for sabotaging Soviet economy and working with Trotsky

- Trials of 21 (1938) - right opponents (Buk. and Ryk.) confess to forming a Trotskyite-Rightist Bloc. Tomsky kills himself before trials. 

-Trials shown to public via radio and film

-Many tortured for confessions and then executed - acts as a warning to party members

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Stalin's overall control

- Only surviving member of 1924 Politburo

- Politburo only meets 9 time a year

- Walked around meetings for intimidation

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Soviet Constitution (1936)

- Seems highly democratic - civil rights and the vote given to every USSR citizen, guaranteed employment (want to win over Allies to fight Nazis)

- Lists restrictions on citizens 

- Only candidates of CP up for election

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- Politburo refuse to allow Ryutin to be exectued in 1932 - sent to a labour camp for 10 years

- Hurried re-drafting of 2nd FYP 

- Kirov secures more votes than Stalin in vote to Central Commitee

- People concerned at Stalin's brutality

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WW2 (1941-45)

- State Defense Committee (GKO) for country's admin

- Supreme Command (Stavka) co-ordinate military

- Use of terror REDUCED 

- Generals and ex-party officals released 

- Prop. to mobilise masses and present Stalin as a symbol of unity

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High Stalinism (1945-53)

- Focus on re-building country

- Use of terror to control pop.

- C. of P. gives illusion of power despite Stalin's declining health

- New gen. of Politburo (Malenkov, Beria)

- 1951 - Mingrelian Affair - Stalin purges Beria's allies

- 1952 - Politburo becomes Presidium and grows from 10-36 people. Members brought in who aren't necessarily on his side

- 1953 - Doctor's Plot but Stalin dies before he can purge

- Stalin's power declines after WW2

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Khrushchev (1953-64): 20th Party Congress (1956)

- Denounces Stalin for foreign policy errors, mass terror, failure of Soviet agrc. and mass loss of life in WW2.

-Almost complete silence and no applause

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- Wants to return to Leninism

- Destroys Stalin statues and re-names cities named after Stalin (Stalingrad, Stalino Oblast)

- Allows artistic, cultural freedom

- De-centralisation of decision-making

- Regular presidium and central committee meetings resumed

- No longer sentences for failing to meet targets

- 2 mill prisoners released 1653-60

- Bring secret police under control

- Surveillance still in use

- Fear still immanent (corruption and criticism)

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Crisis (1957)

- Group led by Malenkov and Molotov seek to remove K. from power.

- K. calls them the 'Anti-Party Group' - only those who appointed him could resign him

- Molotov becomes Mongolian Ambassador and Malenkov becomes Head of Electricity

- Mar 1958 - Becomes Prime Minister - elected by Central Committee

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Further reforms

- 22nd Party Congress 1961:

  • Stalin's body removed from Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square
  • Major purge of Party Secretaries
  • 1962 - Splits party into agric. and indus., reducing power of party officials
  • Limit on tenure of post to 3 years 
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- Economic mistakes - disastrous harvest of 1963

- Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

- Eratic, unpredictable personality

- 1964 - removed from all posts by bureaucrats eager to see him go

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Brezhnev (1964-82): Return to Stability

- 'Safe pair of hands'

- Got his way without conflict

- Quickly reverses de-Stalinisation:

  • Division dropped
  • Limits on tenure removed
  • Collective leadership and 'trust in cadres'
  • Membership: 6.9 mill 1953 to 17 mill 1980
  • No longer made decisions without consulting the party
  • Uses position as G. Sec. to ensure people get the right information
  • Criticism of party allowed due to Soviet Constitution 1977
  • Article 6 (primacy of party over state - 'mature socialism') means that posts filled by appointment rather than election
  • No return of Stalin's terror
  • Presidium becomes Politburo again
  • Awards himself medals/acheivements
  • Exercises less peronal power than K. or S. 
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Political Stagnation

- Oligarchy forms - ruled by small elite 

- Recruits 'The Dnepropetrovsk Mafia' (cronies from Ukraine) to strengthen his position

- Allows corruption to go unnnoticed in more remote regions of USSR - 'the cotton affair'

- 1984 - 7/11 members of Politburo are over 70

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Andropov (1982-84)

- Sees need for reform but lack of charm hinders his efforts to implement them

- Dies in Feb 1984 without that many changes

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Chernenko (1984-85)

- Makes no changes and dies in 1985 :(

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