Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union
|Legislative body in the Soviet Union|
|Chambers||Soviet of Nationalities|
Soviet of the Union
|Preceded by||Congress of Soviets and the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union|
|Seats||542 (at dissolution)|
|Direct non-competitive elections (1936--1989)|
Elected by Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union (1989--1991)
|4 March 1984 (last direct election)|
26 March 1989 (last - and only - indirect election)
|Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow Kremlin|
The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (Russian: ? , tr. Verkhóvny Sovét Sovétskogo Soyúza, IPA: [vr'xovn?j s?'v?et s?v?'etsk?v? s?'juz?]) was the most authoritative legislative body of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) beginning 1936, and the only one with the power to approve constitutional amendments. (The Congress of Soviets was the supreme legislative body from 1917 to 1936. During 1989-1991 a similar, but not identical (elected directly by the people instead of local Soviets) structure (Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR) was the supreme legislative body.) It elected the Presidium, served as the collective head of state of the USSR, and appointed the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, and the Procurator General of the USSR.
The Supreme Soviet was composed of two chambers, each with equal legislative powers, with members elected for four-year terms:
By the Soviet constitutions of 1936 and 1977, the Supreme Soviet was defined as the highest organ of state power in the Soviet Union, and was imbued with great lawmaking powers. In practice, however, it did little more than approve decisions made already by the USSR's executive organs and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). This was in accordance with the Communist Party's principle of democratic centralism, and became the norm for other Communist legislatures.
The Supreme Soviet convened twice a year, usually for less than a week. For the rest of the year, the Presidium performed its ordinary functions. Often, the CPSU bypassed the Supreme Soviet altogether and had major laws enacted as Presidium decrees. Nominally, if Presidium decrees were not ratified by the Supreme Soviet, they were considered revoked. In practice, however, the doctrine of democratic centralism rendered the process of ratifying Presidium decrees a mere formality. In some cases, even this formality was not observed.
After 1989 it consisted of 542 deputies (decreased from previously 1,500). The meetings of the body were also more frequent, from six to eight months a year.
Between 1938 and February 1990, more than 50 years, only 80 laws were passed by the Supreme Soviet, less than 1% of total legislative acts.
Beside the Supreme Council, in the Soviet Union supreme councils also existed in each of the union and autonomous republics. The supreme councils of republican level also had presidiums, but all those councils consisted of one chamber. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, some councils of the succeeded independent republics simply changed their name to their more historic name or to emphasise the importance of the council as a national parliament, while others changed to double-chamber assemblies. All republics in the USSR were soviet (as soviet national), yet 15 were of union level, while the other, autonomous republics, were subordinated to the union republics.
List of known autonomous republics councils: