From Wikipedia “During the Soviet period, the high authority in the oblast was shared between three persons: The first secretary of the “Oblast” CPSU Committee (who in reality had the biggest authority), the chairman of the oblast Soviet (legislative power), and the Chairman of the oblast Executive Committee (executive power).”

What was the roles of these three persons? And how they interacted with each other and with the other powers of the USSR (the Party, the Military, the KGB...)?

PS: This is the only information I managed to find about oblasts' politic organization. It’s not a big part of my story and I’m focusing my research on other topics, therefore I’m sorry if the post lacks efforts, if you guys can give some shortcuts I’ll be grateful.

2 Answers 2


General Division of Responsibilities

The division of responsibilities was roughly similar to that at the national level: the decisions were made at the party committee (and both Soviet chairman and executive committee chairman were members thereof, together with the police and KGB bosses) under the guidance of the secretary, and the Soviet chairman was responsible for getting the Soviet to rubber stamp the decisions and the executive was responsible for, you guessed it, executing the decisions.

Ethnic Regions

The 1st Party secretary was the supreme boss in the Russian and Ukrainian regions (oblast/krai). In the ethnic regions, the 1st secretary was "the local", representing the ethnic/tribal elites, and the 2nd secretary was a Russian (or, rarely, Ukrainian or even Belorussian) sent in from the Center, and it was the 2nd secretary who (unofficially!) held the supreme power (but not the official prestige and visibility!), because the power in the USSR flowed from Moscow to regional centers, and from those to local centers &c.

The only exception I can recall was Kolbin whose appointment as the 1st Secretary in Kazakhstan in December 1986 lead to riots.

The possible exceptions in the other direction were Aliyev (who had KGB roots and thus did not need a Moscow baby-sitter) and Kunaev who was a personal ally of Brezhnev.

Post-USSR (response to a comment)

When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the 2nd secretaries lost their power source - Moscow was no longer to be reckoned with - and the 1st secretaries landed with all the central power there was.

Source: I lived there and observed the politics first hand.

  • 4
    Very interesting. However, I am compelled to remind you that sources would improve the answer.
    – 0range
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 23:26
  • 3
    Source: I lived there. ;-) <- as much as I think the answer is useful this is just equivalent to saying source: "trust me dude".
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 9:03
  • 3
    @Ezekiel: look, any source boils down to that. There are no " official foundational documents" that regulate these things. It's like asking for sources on how food lines in USSR worked. I am an eye witness (with all the advantages and disadvantages of being one). There are memoirs and fiction that describe these things, but not in a concentrated manner that you might want from a source.
    – sds
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 13:56
  • @Ezekiel I think you need a 'trusted source': from someone with a formal degree, a bunch of claqueurs? In history in general and especially here on such informal things an eyewitness opinion is not that worse, often more plausible and credible, than an opinion of a "serious historian". For instance, in Ann Applebaum's or Simon Montefiore's works there are many facts&stories which they seem to either to invent themselves or take from ridiculous 'sources'. But they are considered 'serious' historians
    – d.k
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 17:50
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    To resolve the doubts that @user907860 raised, it would help to add a note that this 1st/2nd secretary distribution of power (and ethnicity) was an 'unwritten rule' rather than anything formal. Still, a fact of life.
    – Zeus
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 8:34

On paper, the USSR and its subdivisions were "super-parliamentary republics" in that the highest body with direct power was the Supreme Council. It had enormous power and it could do everything in the country, often with simple majority. There was no veto power invested in anybody against the decisions of the Supreme Council. The very Russian word "soviet" means "council".

Given this principle, the supreme body in each village was a village council, in each city, a city council, in each district, a district council, in each oblast, an oblast council. And so forth. There was no separate executive power. The executive body would be called "executive committee of the city council" and was just a part of the council as a whole.

The head (chairman) of the executive committee of the council was also the head of the council as a whole, and the head of the city.

  • 1
    This describes the formal official arrangement that had no relationship to the day-to-day realities.
    – sds
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 14:24
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    @sds we do not know what the OP is asking about, about formal arrangement or who was the alpha male. In any way, I just excluded the "executive power" from the picture.
    – Anixx
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 14:52

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