Soviet Union - Political Divisions

Political Divisions

Constitutionally, the Soviet Union was a union of Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs) and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), although the rule of the highly centralized Communist Party made the union merely nominal. The Treaty on the Creation of the USSR was signed in December 1922 by four founding republics, the RSFSR, Transcaucasian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR and Belorussian SSR. In 1924, during the national delimitation in Central Asia, the Uzbek and Turkmen SSRs were formed from parts of the RSFSR's Turkestan ASSR and two Soviet dependencies, the Khorezm and Bukharan SSR. In 1929, the Tajik SSR was split off from the Uzbek SSR. With the constitution of 1936, the constituents of the Transcaucasian SFSR, namely the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan SSRs, were elevated to union republics, while the Kazakh and Kirghiz SSRs were split off from the RSFSR. In August 1940, the Soviet Union formed the Moldavian SSR from parts of the Ukrainian SSR and parts of Bessarabia annexed from Romania. It also annexed the Baltic states as the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian SSRs. The Karelo-Finnish SSR was split off from the RSFSR in March 1940 and merged back in 1956. Between July 1956 and September 1991, there were 15 union republics (see map below).

On 16 November 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR passed the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration that asserted Estonia's sovereignty and declared the supremacy of Estonian laws over those of the Soviet Union. In March 1990, the newly elected Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR declared independence, followed by the Georgian Supreme Soviet in April 1991. Although the symbolic right of the republics to secede was nominally guaranteed by the constitution and the union treaty, Soviet authorities at first refused to recognize it. After the August coup attempt, most of the other republics followed suit. The Soviet Union ultimately recognized the secession of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on 6 September 1991. The remaining republics were recognized as independent with the Soviet Union's final dissolution in December 1991.

# Republic Map of the Union Republics between 1956–1991
1 Russian SFSR
2 Ukrainian SSR
3 Belorussian SSR
4 Uzbek SSR
5 Kazakh SSR
6 Georgian SSR
7 Azerbaijan SSR
8 Lithuanian SSR
9 Moldavian SSR
10 Latvian SSR
11 Kirghiz SSR
12 Tajik SSR
13 Armenian SSR
14 Turkmen SSR
15 Estonian SSR

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