Nomenklatuurisüsteemi funktsioneerimisest aastatel 1944–1953 Eesti NSV valitsusliikmete näitel [Abstract: The functioning of the nomenklatura system in 1944–1953: the example of the members of the Estonian SSR government]


  • Olev Liivik



The research of the nomenklatura as the central instrument of the Soviet Union’s cadre policy is primarily channelled towards lists of nomenklatura positions and the people who filled those positions, yet the functioning of the nomenklatura as a bureaucratic system for approving and harmonizing cadres has gone almost entirely unnoticed on both the USSR-wide and the local Union republic levels. This article examines the appointment and dismissal of members of the Government of the Estonian SSR – the Council of Ministers of the Estonian SSR – during the late Stalinist years of 1944–53 in order to gain a clearer understanding of the dynamics of relations between the central authority and the Union republic in implementing the nomenklatura system and the relationship between the Party and state organs in making cadre decisions. In the nomenklatura hierarchy, the members of the Union republic’s government belonged to the higher level CPSU Central Committee nomenklatura as well as the Party Central Committee nomenklatura of the Union republic. This meant that the conclusive approval of their appointment to their post and their dismissal could take place on the basis of decisions made by the CPSU CC. Yet formally, the constitution legally prescribed the procedure for appointing members of the government to office and for dismissing them. According to this procedure, the formation of the Union republic’s government belonged to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Soviet as the highest organ of state authority in the Union republic. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet functioned in its name during the intervals between sessions of the Supreme Soviet in dismissing individual members of the government from their posts and in appointing them to office. Thus the peculiarities of processing cadre decisions derived from the fact that members of the government belonged to the CPSU CC nomenklatura and from the constitution, for which reason Party rights, in other words mechanisms based on nomenklatura had to be tied in with constitutional mechanisms in appointing and dismissing members of the government. It appears from this study that the processing and approval of cadre decisions concerning members of the Union republic’s government took place first of all in the Party organs in accordance with Party rights pursuant to nomenklatura regulations, and thereafter in state organs, where the requisite legislative acts were drawn up. This study arrives at the conclusion that nomenklatura and constitutional regulation made it possible to process and adopt cadre decisions as a routine bureaucratic procedure. Procedural cases of cadre decisions concerning members of the Estonian SSR Council of Ministers, however, allude to frequent distortions and violations that manifested themselves as deviations in the sequence of the adoption of decisions and less frequently in cases where even the decision of the Party or of the state organs was not adopted at all. In summary, there were admittedly disruptions in the implementation of the nomenklatura system, yet the existence of nomenklatura mechanisms nevertheless enabled Party organs to effectively control and direct the placement of cadres in state organs, and the CPSU CC, in turn, to control the placement of leading cadres in the Union republics. Keywords: Soviet government, Council of Ministers, administration of a Union Republic, cadre policy


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Author Biography

Olev Liivik

(b. 1975), Researcher at the Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu