Sovnarkhozy

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SOVNARKHOZY

Regional bodies that administered industry and construction in the USSR.

The Sovnarkhozy (acronym for Sovety Narodnogo Khozyaistva, or Councils of the National Economy) were state bodies for the regional administration of industry and construction in Russia and the USSR that existed from 1917 to 1932 and again from 1957 to 1965.

The first Sovnarkhozy were created in December 1917 by the Supreme Council of the National Economy. Each of them had power over areas ranging in size from small districts up to several provinces. They were associated with local institutions such as soviets and were responsible to the Supreme Council for restoring the economy of their area after World War I and then the civil war. As the Soviet economy developed during the 1920s, control of industry was divided between the Supreme Council of the National Economy (which retained control of important strategic industries) and the Sovnarkhozy. The Sovnarkhozy were abolished in 1932 when the Supreme Council was divided into three separate industrial commissariats.

Sovnarkhozy were reintroduced during Nikita Khrushchev's 1957 effort to decentralize the economy. The USSR was divided into 105 Sovnarkhozy responsible to republican Councils of Ministers for the industry in the regions, except armaments, chemicals, and electricity, which at first remained under central control. The system had a fundamental weakness due to the lack of centralized direction and coordination, and Sovnarkhozy often pursued local interests and considered only the needs of their own region. In 1962 and 1963 attempts were made to reform the system, such as amalgamating the Sovnarkhozy and reviving the Supreme Council of the National Economy, but in 1965 Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin abolished the Sovnarkhozy and reestablished the central industrial ministries.

See also: economic growth, soviet; kosygin reforms; regionalism

bibliography

Nove, Alec. (1982). An Economic History of the U.S.S.R. Basingstoke, UK: Penguin.

Prokhorev, Aleksandr M., ed. (1975). Great Soviet Encyclopedia: A Translation of the Third Edition. New York: Macmillan.

Derek Watson

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Sovnarkhozy

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