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an oblast of the USSR distinguished by a particular national composition and way of life and directly included in either a union republic or krai with the rights of administrative autonomy. There are eight autonomous oblasts, five of which are in the RSFSR—Adygei, Gorno-Altai, Jewish, Karachaevo-Cherkess, and Khakass. The South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast is in the Georgian SSR; Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Azerbaijan SSR; and Gorno-Badakhshan, in the Tadzhik SSR.
The legal position of the autonomous oblast is defined in the constitution of each union republic under a special chapter devoted to organs of state power in the autonomous oblast. Thus, the constitution of the RSFSR defines the organs of state power and administration of autonomous oblasts and the method of their election. It also stipulates that the autonomous oblast submit the “Statute on the Autonomous Oblast,” which concerns its national characteristics, for the approval of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR.
The constitutions of the Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Tadzhik SSR define the procedure for electing organs of power and the standard regulations for representation within the autonomous oblast. They also define spheres of competence and legislative authority and the structure of state administrative organs, as well as their interrelation with other state institutions. The constitutions of these union republics require that statutes passed by state organs of autonomous oblasts be issued in the language of the oblast. Furthermore, organs of state power and administration as well as judicial organs of the autonomous oblast must use the native language of its inhabitants.
The autonomous oblast is represented in the organs of state power of both the USSR and the union republic. The inhabitants of each autonomous oblast elect five deputies to the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to represent their specific national interests. Representation of the autonomous oblast in the supreme soviet of the union republic is proportioned to the size of its population. In the Azerbaijan SSR, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast is also represented in the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Thus, in accordance with the constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR (art. 31), one of the vice-presidents of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet is elected from the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.
The autonomous oblast enjoys special rights regarding the organization of its territory. For example, it may establish the boundaries of its raions and raion divisions, which upon submission of the proper documents are approved by the presidium of the supreme soviet of the union republic. Moreover, its territory may not be altered without its consent.
D. L. ZLATOPOL’SKII