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Organization of the USSR


Communist International
Communist International

The writ of the Soviet government ran at the beginning only in the RSFSR. Large tracts in Siberia and along its European periphery were held at one time or another by local nationalists, Communists, German forces, or the Whites. Lenin at first argued that relations with adjacent areas were not of decisive importance, since proletarian revolutions would soon occur there and in Western Europe as well. It was to this end that the Communist International, or Comintern, was founded in Moscow in March 1919 and instructed to split off uncompromisingly pro-Soviet parties from other socialist parties around the world. Although anti-Soviet uprisings did break out in several European countries, notably Germany and Hungary, they all fizzled out. The Soviets took a pragmatic approach to parts of the defunct Russian Empire that had taken advantage of the opportunity for secession offered in 1917. Whenever possible, they reasserted their domination, using a combination of military pacification and cooperation with local groups. When that was impractical, they reluctantly accepted the sovereignty of the nation in question. Peace treaties to this effect were signed in 1920 and 1921 with Finland, Poland, and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

With armistices signed and the new sobriety about the prospects for world revolution, there was a searching discussion about what to do with parts of the former Russian Empire under direct or indirect Soviet control and inhabited, by and large, by ethnic non-Russians. Some, including Stalin (who was commissar of nationalities at the time), favored a unitary state in which there would be “autonomous” provinces for the minorities, with cultural rights. Lenin espoused a federal system in which the RSFSR would be only one of a number of republics, all of them possessing, on paper, equal legal and economic rights.

Lenin prevailed, and in December 1922 agreement was reached between the RSFSR and the Ukrainian, Belorussian, and South Caucasus republics to establish the USSR. It took more than a year to work out concrete arrangements for the division of powers.

The first constitution of the Soviet federation was ratified on January 31, 1924, a few days after Lenin’s premature death. The Communist Party itself was not federalized, and so functioned as a potent brake on decentralizing tendencies. As the Soviet state moved to stabilize its political structures, the world powers, having initially attempted to ostracize it, entered into negotiations about the establishment of normal diplomatic and commercial relations. The breakthrough was the Treaty of Rapallo with Germany in April 1922. Diplomatic recognition soon came from other major powers, beginning with the United Kingdom in February 1924. The United States was the last major power to accord the Soviet government formal recognition, which it did in 1933. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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