The 15 union republics had government structures, nominally elected by the population, that largely ran in parallel to those of the central government. The economic concerns of the republics were of lower priority than those of the USSR government, and all republic activities were checked and, if need be, amended from above. Further restraint was applied by the organs of the CPSU: Each republic but the RSFSR had a republic-level Central Committee, Politburo, and Secretariat subordinated to the Kremlin (the seat of the CPSU and Soviet government) in Moscow. Because the union republics were accountable for educational and cultural services, residents often identified them as defenders of republic interests and identities. This perception became highly important when Gorbachev’s reforms led to the weakening of the authority of the central administration in the late 1980s. Beneath the union republics was an elaborate web of regional and local authorities.
Their main duties were to deliver social services (such as health care and public housing) and in the countryside to supervise agricultural production. Ten union republics (all except the three Baltic republics, Moldavia, and Armenia) had regional subunits. These included the autonomous areas for ethnic homelands (autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts, and autonomous okrugs) and two other types without ethnic coloration, oblasts and krais (territories). All told, the Soviet Union in 1989 encompassed, besides the 15 union republics, 38 autonomous areas and 120 oblasts and krais. At the most localized level, councils were in place for rural districts (3193 in 1989), towns and cities (2190), small urban settlements (4026), and villages (42,712). Again, all government bodies operated under the close watch of the apparatus of the CPSU. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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