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Organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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The organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was based on the principles of
democratic centralism.
The governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the Party
Congress which initially met annually but whose meetings became less frequent, particularly
under Joseph Stalin. Party Congresses would elect a Central Committee which, in turn, would
elect a Politburo. Under Stalin the most powerful position in the party became the General
Secretary who was elected by the Politburo. In 1952 the title of General Secretary became First
Secretary and the Politburo became the Presidium before reverting to their former names under
Leonid Brezhnev in 1966.
In theory, supreme power in the party was invested in the Party Congress. However, in practice
the power structure became reversed and, particularly after the death of Lenin, supreme power
became the domain of the General Secretary.
Higher levels
In the late Soviet Union the CPSU incorporated the communist parties of the 15 constituent
republics (the communist branch of the Russian SFSR was established in 1990). Before 1990 the
communist party organization in Russian oblasts, autonomous republics and some other major
administrative units were subordinated directly to the CPSU Central Committee. [1]
Lower levels
At lower levels, the organizational hierarchy was managed by Party Committees, or partkoms
(). A partkom was headed by the elected "partkom bureau secretary" ("partkom
secretary", ). At enterprises, institutions, kolkhozes, etc., they were called as
such, i.e., "partkoms". At higher levels the Committees were abbreviated accordingly: obkoms
() at oblast (zone) levels (known earlier as gubkoms () for guberniyas), raikoms
() at raion (district) levels (known earlier as ukoms () for uyezds), gorkom ()
at city levels, etc.
The same terminology ("raikom", etc.) was used in the organizational structure of Komsomol.
The bottom level of the Party was the primary party organization (
) or party cell ( ). It was created within any organizational entity
of any kind where there were at least three communists. The management of a cell was called
party bureau/partbureau ( , ). A partbureau was headed by the
elected bureau secretary ( ).

At smaller party cells, secretaries were regular employees of the corresponding

plant/hospital/school/etc. Sufficiently large party organizations were usually headed by an
exempt secretary, who drew his salary from the Party money.
Main offices

General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - Became synonymous
with leader of the party under Joseph Stalin.
Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee - Leading body within the Central
Committee. Headed by the General Secretary or First Secretary.

Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee - The political bureau of the Central
Committee; in practice, the ruling body of both the Communist Party and the Soviet

Central Committee of the Communist Party - The governing body of the Party between
each Congress. Conducted the day-to-day business of the Party and the government.

Organizational Bureau of the Party Central Committee, or Orgburo

CPSU Party Control Committee

CPSU Central Auditing Commission (sometimes translated as calque, Central Revision

Commission, from " ")

Party Conference - The oversight body of the Party in between Party Congresses. Usually
gathered once a year.

Congress of the CPSU - The gathering of Party delegates every five years. It was the
oversight body of the entire Party, in theory.

See also

Organization of the Communist Party of China


Program of the CPSU, 27th Party Congress (1986)

External links

Executive Bodies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1917-1991)