USSR Referendum 1991 Map

If you want a better understanding of what’s going on in former Soviet Republics like Ukraine or Belarus, you may want to have a look at the Constitution as it was in 1991.

The full length original of the constitution in Russian is here.

In the last post, I mentioned Chapter 8, which is the most pertinent one regarding the territory of the USSR. There are also Chapters 9, 10 and 11 that have direct significance and applicability to many situations of today.

Lets start with Chapter 9:

Which translates in English as (according to Google, with some corrections by me marked by strikethrough of original and bold replacement):

Chapter 9. Union Soviet Socialist Republic

Article 76. The Union Republic is a sovereign Soviet socialist state, which has united with other Soviet republics into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Outside of the limits specified in Article 73 of the Constitution of the USSR, the union republic independently exercises state power on its territory.

The union republic has its own Constitution, which corresponds to the Constitution of the USSR and takes into account the peculiarities of the republic.

Article 77. The Union Republic participates in resolving issues within the jurisdiction of the USSR at the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Federation Council, the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR and other bodies of the USSR.

The Union Republic ensures comprehensive economic and social development on its territory, promotes the exercise of the powers of the USSR on this territory, and implements the decisions of the highest bodies of state power and administration of the USSR.

On issues related to its jurisdiction, the union republic coordinates and controls the activities of enterprises, institutions and organizations under union jurisdiction.

Article 78. The territory of a union republic cannot be changed without its consent. The boundaries between union republics can be changed by mutual agreement of the respective republics, which is subject to approval by the USSR.

Article 79. The Union Republic determines its territorial, regional, district, district division and decides other questions of the administrative-territorial structure.

Article 80. The Union Republic has the right to enter into relations with foreign states, conclude treaties with them and exchange diplomatic and consular representatives, participate in the activities of international organizations.

Article 81. The sovereign rights of the union republics are protected by the USSR.

It might not be immediately clear what the difference is between Chapter 8 (Union State) and Chapter 9 (Union Soviet Socialist Republic). In my understanding Chapter 9 just describes the legal entity, while Chapter 8 describes the purpose, extent and organs of the USSR, but there might be intricacies of Soviet law I am not aware of.

In any case, of special interest are Art. 79 and Art. 81.

Now, on to Chapters 10 & 11:

Which translates in English as (according to Google, with some corrections by me marked by strikethrough of original and bold replacement):

Chapter 10. Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

Article 82. An autonomous republic is a part of a union republic.

An autonomous republic, being outside the limits of the rights of the USSR and the union republic, independently resolves issues related to its jurisdiction.

An autonomous republic has its own Constitution, which corresponds to the Constitution of the USSR and the Constitution of the Union republic and takes into account the peculiarities of the autonomous republic.

Article 83. The Autonomous Republic participates in the solution of issues attributed to the jurisdiction of the USSR and the Union republic through the highest bodies of state power and administration, respectively, of the USSR and the Union republic.

The Autonomous Republic ensures comprehensive economic and social development on its territory, promotes the exercise of the powers of the USSR and the respective Union republic on this territory, implements the decisions of the highest bodies of state power and administration of the USSR and the Union republic.

On issues related to its jurisdiction, the autonomous republic coordinates and controls the activities of enterprises, institutions and organizations of the union and republican (union republic) subordination.

Article 84. The territory of an autonomous republic cannot be changed without its consent.

Article 85. In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic there are autonomous Soviet socialist republics: Bashkir, Buryat, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkarian, Kalmyk, Karelian, Komi, Mari, Mordovia, North Ossetian, Tatar, Tuva, Udmurt, Chechen-Ingush, Yakutsk.

The Karakalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Abkhazian and Adjarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

Chapter 11. Autonomous Region and Autonomous Okrug

Article 86. An autonomous region is part of a union republic or territory. The law on the autonomous region is adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the union republic on the proposal of the Council of People’s Deputies of the autonomous region.

Article 87. In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic there are autonomous regions: Adyghe, Gorno-Altai, Jewish, Karachay-Cherkess, Khakass.

The South Ossetian Autonomous Region is part of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.

The Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region.

Article 88. An autonomous region is a part of a krai or region. The law on autonomous regions is adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the union republic.

You’ll find some familiar names here, like Nagorno-Karabakh or South-Ossetia, while you’ll not find Crimea, for example.

Note that I am working here with the Constitution of the USSR as of Dec. 26, 1990, which is essentially the same – with some changes – as the constitution of Oct. 7, 1977.
In this context, I’ll leave it at that and won’t go farther back in history.