The New Eurasia: A Guide to the Republics of the Former Soviet Union

By David T. Twining | Go to book overview

Key Terms
Political change and civil turmoil in the former Soviet Union often had as their focus political entities that were at variance with most Western terms and practice. Until the dramatic events of 1991, the Soviet Union was composed of fifteen union republics, the fundamental political unit below the national government. Each union republic was governed by a Supreme Soviet, as the highest body of state power. Because of the former Soviet Union's immense size and heterogeneous population, however, a complex series of jurisdictions was created to govern this vast land.1In smaller union republics, the next subordinate political subdivision was the raion, which is similar to the U.S. county in rural areas. In urban areas, the raion corresponds to the borough, several of which form a city. Hence, local government in such republics is composed of raions in rural areas; a number of city governments; and governments for towns, villages, and settlements.For larger union republics, there were a number of geopolitical subdivisions that do not overlap:
Krais or krays (territories), responsible for large, often remote, and thinly populated areas. There were six krais in the former Soviet Union; all are in Russia.
Oblasts (regions), which have larger populations but smaller territory. There were 123 oblasts in the former Soviet Union.

Other subdivisions were created to represent ethnic groups. Many such jurisdictions do not include all members of a given nationality but are artificial creations that sometimes deliberately split ethnic groups and attributed to them a falsified history.2 All are subordinate to the union republics in which they are located, and all contain raions, cities, towns, villages, and settlements. These subdivisions include the following:

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The New Eurasia: A Guide to the Republics of the Former Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Maps xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Key Terms xix
  • Notes xx
  • 1 - The Former Soviet Union 1
  • Notes 30
  • 2 - The Russian Federation 35
  • Notes 55
  • 3 - The Baltic States 63
  • Notes 79
  • 4 - Western Region 83
  • Notes 109
  • 5 - The Caucasus 115
  • Notes 136
  • 6 - Central Asia 139
  • Notes 173
  • 7 - The Debris of the Former Soviet Union 179
  • Notes 190
  • 8 - Selected Biographies 195
  • Notes 199
  • For Further Reading 201
  • Index 205
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