People's Control Committee

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The Soviet leadership used several organizations to ensure popular compliance with its policies, ideology, and morality. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Central Party Control Committee ensured Party discipline by verifying the thoughts and actions of Party members and candidates. Simultaneously, Rabkrin (the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate) used workers and peasants to supervise local administrators.

Josef Stalin gradually subordinated the Central Control Commission to the Party's Central Committee and ultimately himself. In 1923 he merged it with the Workers and Peasant's Inspectorate. From the beginning, the Central Control Commission was given a broad and vague mandate, allowing excesses and abuse of power. Not only did it investigate cases of poor work performance, failure to meet production quotas, corruption, or even drunkenness, but it found violations as needed when Stalin's purges began during the 1930s.

As part of his de-Stalinization campaign following Stalin's death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev announced he was going back to the party's Leninist roots. While maintaining a tamer Party disciplinary structure, Khrushchev also recreated the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, now known as the Party-State Control Committee (PSCC). Using thousands of volunteers to supplement its small permanent staff, the PSCC was designed as more of a grassroots organization working to ensure fulfillment of the five-year plans. Instead of top-down surveillance, Khrushchev saw the Committees as a way of channeling factory-level information to top planners, such as hidden stockpiles of goods or resources.

Following Khrushchev's ouster in 1964, the committee was renamed in December 1965, becoming the People's Control Committee. It continued to rely on volunteersabout ten million in 1980to monitor government and economic activities. In addition, the Committee's chair, Alexander Shelepin, was removed, as Party leaders feared he held too many powerful posts at once. He was succeeded by Pavel Kovanov, who was replaced by Gennadiy Ivanovich Voronov in 1971. Voronov was replaced in 1974 by Alexei Shkolnikov.

Following his election as general secretary in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev began to restructure the PCC in accordance with his overall reform program. He appointed Sergei Manykin to chair the PCC in March 1987. Among the changes ordered was to reduce the number of inspections, because they were disruptive and actually contributed to inefficiency. In 1989 the organization was reconfigured as the USSR People's Control Committee under the newly constituted USSR Supreme Soviet. Professional staff replaced the volunteers. In June 1989, Manyakin was replaced by Gennady Kolbin, who launched an ambitious program to link inspection reports to proposed legislation in the Supreme Soviet. Kolbin also sought to ensure that punishments were actually implemented, not overturned by appeals to a party patron.

See also: communist party of the soviet union; de-stalinization; perestroika; purges, the great; rabkrin.


Adams, Jan S. (1978). "Institutional Change in the 1970s: The Case of the USSR People's Control Committee." Slavic Review 37(3):457472.

Adams, Jan S. (1989). "USSR People's Control Committee and Perestroika." Radio Liberty Report on the USSR 1(4):13.

Ann E. Robertson

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People's Control Committee

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