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Soviet Union

The Party's Appointment Authority

The nomenklatura system arose early in Soviet history. Lenin wrote that appointments were to take the following criteria into account: reliability, political attitude, qualifications, and administrative ability. Stalin, who was the first general secretary of the party, also was known as "Comrade File Cabinet" (Tovarishch Kartotekov) for his assiduous attention to the details of the party's appointments. Seeking to make appointments in a more systematic fashion, Stalin built the party's patronage system and used it to distribute his clients throughout the party bureaucracy (see Stalin's Rise to Power , ch. 2). Under Stalin's direction in 1922, the party created departments of the Central Committee and other organs at lower levels that were responsible for the registration and appointment of party officials. Known as uchraspredy, these organs supervised appointments to important party posts. According to American Sovietologist Seweryn Bialer, after Brezhnev's accession to power in October 1964, the party considerably expanded its appointment authority. However, in the late 1980s some official statements indicated that the party intended to reduce its appointment authority, particularly in the area of economic management, in line with Gorbachev's reform efforts.

At the all-union level, the Party Building and Cadre Work Department supervised party nomenklatura appointments. This department maintained records on party members throughout the country, made appointments to positions on the all-union level, and approved nomenklatura appointments on the lower levels of the hierarchy. The head of this department sometimes was a member of the Secretariat and was often a protégé of the general secretary.

Every party committee and party organizational department--from the all-union level in Moscow to the district and city levels-- prepared two lists according to their needs. The basic (osnovnaia) list detailed positions in the political, administrative, economic, military, cultural, and educational bureaucracies that the committee and its department had responsibility for filling. The registered (uchetnaia) list enumerated the persons suitable for these positions.

Data as of May 1989