Soviet Union Table of Contents
In 1988 more than 3,400 district (raion) organizations made up the position in the CPSU hierarchy below that of the oblast. Of these organizations, 2,860 were located in rural areas and 570 in wards of cities. In addition, this hierarchical level encompassed 800 city (gorod) organizations.
The structure of these organizations resembled that of organizations on the republic and oblast levels. In theory, the party conference, with delegates selected by the PPOs in each district or city, elected a committee composed of full and candidate members. In practice, the party leadership in the district or town chose the delegates to the party conference and determined the composition of the district or town committee. Party conferences took place twice every five years. In the interim, the district committee (raion komitet--raikom) or city committee (gorodskoi komitet--gorkom) was the most authoritative body in the territory. The committee consisted of party officials, state officials, local Komsomol and trade union officers, the chairmen of the most important collective farms, the managers of the largest industrial enterprises, some PPO secretaries, and a few rank-and-file party members.
The raikom or gorkom elected a bureau and a secretariat, which supervised the daily affairs of the jurisdiction. The bureau numbered between ten and twelve members, who included party officials, state officials, and directors of the most important economic enterprises (see Glossary) in the district or city. The composition of the bureau at this level varied with location. For example, the gorkom had no specialist for agriculture, and the rural raikom had no specialist for industry. The raikom and gorkom bureaus met two to three times per month to review the affairs of the district or city and to examine the reports of the PPOs.
The first secretary of the raikom or gorkom bureau headed the party organization at this level. As part of its nomenklatura authority, the oblast party organization made appointments to these positions. In 1987, however, reports of multicandidate elections for first secretary of a raikom appeared in the Soviet press. Two candidates competed for the position of raikom secretary in the Kemerovo and Vinnitsa districts. In the case of Kemerovo, Pravda reported that the oblast party secretary nominated the candidates, and the party conference at the district level settled the contest in a secret ballot. The Nineteenth Party Conference called for the institutionalization of multicandidate elections for these and other party positions.
The secretariat of a raikom and gorkom resembled that of the oblast party committee. In contrast to the party committee of the oblast level, however, the composition of this body varied with location. All had a department for agitation and propaganda; an organizational department, which staffed the positions for PPO secretaries and supervised the performance of the PPOs; and a general department, which coordinated the affairs of the district and city party organizations by circulating documents, administering party work, and preparing the agenda and materials for conferences, plenums, and bureau meetings. In 1988 the raikom or gorkom included a department for either agriculture or industry, which supervised those elements of the Soviet economy on the district level. In contrast to efforts to reduce the number of departments at higher levels of the party apparatus, no such reduction on the district level was planned as of early 1989.
As in the oblast, until the late 1980s the party organization in the district and city tended to involve itself in economic administration and production, which Gorbachev intended to place within the purview of the government. The CPSU judged its officials on their ability to meet and exceed the state economic plan. Party officials used their power as the representatives of the leading political institution in the country to engage themselves in economic administration. For fear of offending party officials and in the expectation that the party would solve their problems, until the late 1980s government and economic administrators were reluctant to exercise initiative and take responsibility in economic matters. The ability of raikom and gorkom secretaries to involve themselves in government activities formed one aspect of their power and influence within their respective jurisdictions. During the Khrushchev era, these officials resisted reforms that led to a diminution of their responsibilities (see Khrushchev's Reforms and Fall , ch. 2).
Data as of May 1989
Soviet Union Table of Contents