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The uezd is an administrative-territorial unit that was used in pre-Soviet Russia and the early Soviet Union. During the formation of the Moscow state during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it designated an area that included both a town and its hinterland, and which came under the jurisdiction of a namestnik (governor). From the late sixteenth century, the uezd was under the jurisdiction of a voyevod (military governor). Under Peter I, the uezd became a subdivision of governments and provinces. Between 1775 and 1780, Catherine II's reform of the Russian Empire's territorial administration recreated the uezd as the primary subdivision of a guberbiya (government), based on a (male) population of between twenty and thirty thousand.

Each uezd, which was itself subdivided into volosti (boroughs), came under the jurisdiction of an ispravnik (district captain) who was elected every three years by the district assembly of the nobility. The district captain held responsibility for the maintenance of law and order and for fiscal administration. In European Russia, the 1864 zemstvo reform created assemblies at the uezd level, elected on a restrictive property-based franchise. Every three years, the uezd assembly elected an executive board responsible for district administration. It also elected delegates to an assembly at the guberniya level. Provincial governors had to ratify the appointment of the president of each uezd board and, from 1890, of all its members (at the same time the assembly franchise was further narrowed). After the February Revolution in 1917, the Provisional Government introduced the office of district commissar to represent the central state in the localities; after the Bolshevik revolution authority passed to the executive committee of the uezd soviet. At the end of the 1920s, the Soviet government dissolved both the uezd and volost levels of territorial administration, subdividing the new oblasti (regions) directly into raiony.

See also: local government and administration

Nick Baron