Council that constituted the primary unit of government in the Soviet Union. The first soviet was formed in St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution of 1905 to coordinate revolutionary activities, but it was suppressed. Socialist leaders formed the second soviet shortly before the abdication of Nicholas II, with one deputy for every 1,000 workers and every military company. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolsheviks gradually gained a dominant position in soviets across the land. In 1918 a new constitution established soviets as the formal unit of local and regional government. The 1936 constitution created a directly elected bicameral Supreme Soviet, but the single candidate per district was chosen by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
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Former republic, eastern Europe and northern and central Asia. It consisted, in its final years, of 15 soviet socialist republics that gained independence at its dissolution: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (now Belarus), Estonia, Georgia (now Republic of Georgia), Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya (now Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (now Moldova), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. It also contained 20 autonomous soviet socialist republics: 16 within Russia, 2 within Georgia, 1 within Azerbaijan, and 1 within Uzbekistan. Capital: Moscow. Stretching from the Baltic and Black seas to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing some 8,650,000 sq mi (22,400,000 sq km), the Soviet Union constituted the largest country on Earth, having a maximum east-west extent of about 6,800 mi (10,900 km) and a maximum north-south extent of about 2,800 mi (4,500 km). It encompassed 11 time zones and had common boundaries with 6 European countries and 6 Asian countries. Its regions contained fertile lands, deserts, tundra, high mountains, some of the world's longest rivers, and large inland waters, including most of the Caspian Sea. The coastline on the Arctic Ocean extended 3,000 mi (4,800 km), while that on the Pacific was 1,000 mi (1,600 km) long. The U.S.S.R. was an agricultural, mining, and industrial power. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, four socialist republics were established on the territory of the former Russian Empire: the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. These four constituent republics established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, to which other republics subsequently were added. A power struggle begun in 1924 with the death of communist leader Vladimir Lenin ended in 1927 when Joseph Stalin gained victory. Implementation of the first of the Five-Year Plans in 1928 centralized industry and collectivized agriculture. A purge in the late 1930s resulted in the imprisonment or execution of millions of persons considered dangerous to the state (see purge trials). After World War II, with their respective allies, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. engaged in the Cold War. In the late 1940s the U.S.S.R. helped to establish communist regimes throughout most of eastern Europe. The U.S.S.R. exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949 and its first hydrogen bomb in 1953. Following Stalin's death, it experienced limited political and cultural liberalization under Nikita Khrushchev. It launched the first manned orbital spaceflight in 1961. Under Leonid Brezhnev liberalization was partially reversed, but in the mid-1980s Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev instituted the liberal policies called glasnost and perestroika. By the end of 1990 the communist government had toppled, and a program to create a market economy had been implemented. The U.S.S.R. was officially dissolved on Dec. 25, 1991.
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Soviet-era statues most frequently depicted significant state and party leaders, such as Stalin and V.I. Lenin. Communist symbology was of great importance. Such symbolism including portrayals of figures in motion, figuratively striding forward into the new Soviet age.