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Soviet government official.

"Commissar" was the title given to the bureaucratic leaders of the Soviet Union, used from 1917 to 1946. The title and rank of commissar was also given to the military-political officers serving with the Red Army during World War II. Also known as People's Commissars, they were the heads of the various people's commissariats (of health, justice, education, internal affairs, and so forth), the central bureaucratic organizations that governed the Russian Republic and the Soviet Union. The commissars were also the members of the Soviet of People's Commissars (Sovet narodnykh komissarovSovnarkom, or SNK), the central organ of state power that coordinated government decisions in the Soviet republics and among the commissariats when the USSR Supreme Soviet was not in session. In 1946, when the commissariats were renamed ministries, the commissars became ministers, and the SNK became the Council of Ministers.

See also: council of ministers, soviet; supreme soviet


Fainsod, Merle, and Hough, Jerry F. (1979). How the Soviet Union Is Governed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sharon A. Kowalsky


views updated May 29 2018

Commissar ★★★★ Komissar 1968

Before the Soviet Union ended up in the ashcan of history, this film was labeled as “treason” and shelved in Red Russia. Now, even Americans can view the story of a female Soviet soldier who becomes pregnant during the civil war of 1922. The Soviet military has no policy regarding pregnancy, so the woman is dumped on a family of outcast Jews to complete her pregnancy. This film makes the strong statement that women were just as discriminated against in the U.S.S.R. as were many races or creeds, especially Jews. In Russian with English subtitles. Released in the U.S. in 1988. 105m/B VHS, DVD . RU Nonna Mordyukova, Rolan Bykov, Raisa Nedashkovskaya, Vasily Shukshin, Pavlik Levin, Ludmilla Volinskaya; D: Alexander Askoldov; W: Alexander Askoldov; C: Valery Ginsberg; M: Alfred Schnittke.


views updated May 29 2018

commissar head of a government department in the U.S.S.R. XX. — Russ. komissár — F. commissaire — medL. commissārius COMMISSARY.

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