Veche

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Veche

 

(common to all Slavs; from the old Slavic vet, council). In ancient and medieval Rus’ a meeting of the people for the discussion of general affairs. It arose from the tribal meetings of Slavs. With the formation of the old Russian state of Kievan Rus’, the feudal notables used the veche for limiting the power of the prince. Veche meetings became used on a wide scale in Rus’ with the weakening of the power of the princes in the period of feudal fragmentation (the second half of the 11th and the 12th centuries).

In the chronicle, the veche was first referred to in Belgorod around 997, in Novgorod the Great in 1016, and in Kiev in 1068. The veches handled questions of war and peace; the calling and banishing of princes; the selection and removal of the posadnik (Novgorod mayor and governor of Novgorodian territories), tysiatskii (commercial administrator of Novgorod), and others, and in Novgorod, also of archbishops; the conclusion of treaties with other lands and principalities; and the passing of laws (for example, the Novgorod and Pskov law codes). The veche meetings were usually convoked by the ringing of the veche bell on the initiative of the representatives of the authorities or the population itself; the meetings were not held at regular intervals.

A veche document adopted by a veche, began by mentioning the names of the archbishop, posadnik, and tysiatskii and then gave a discourse about the veche: “the boyars, and the dwellers, and the merchants, and the dark people, and all the citizens of sovereign Lord Novgorod the Great, all the five ends, in the veche, at the Iaroslav Court, commanding . …”

The veche had a regular place of meeting (in Novgorod, in the Iaroslav Court; in Kiev, in the courtyard of St. Sophia’s; in Pskov, in the courtyard of Trinity Cathedral). In addition to this, veches gathered in separate parts of large cities (for example, the “end” veches in Novgorod). The veches were not genuinely democratic. In fact, power belonged to the feudal and city upper class: however, veches allowed the popular masses the definite possibility of influencing political life. The feudal notables therefore tried to decrease the significance of the veche, and the princely power sought to obtain the complete abolition of the veche order. In Novgorod there existed a special “council of gentry” that was made up of the feudal notables and held the actual power in the city. In Northeast Rus’, where cities were weakened by Mongol-Tatar invasions, the increasing power of the grand prince had already liquidated the institution of the veche by the end of the 14th century. However, during the time of the sharpening of the class struggle, the popular assembly in the cities repeatedly took on the form of a veche (the uprisings in Tver in 1293 and 1327, in Moscow in 1382, 1445, and 1547, and others). The veche order remained the longest in the feudal republics of Novgorod (until 1478) and Pskov (until 1510), where it achieved its greatest development, and also in the Viatka area.

REFERENCES

Sergeevich, V. I. Veche i kniaz’. Moscow, 1867.
Grekov, B. D. Kievskaia Rus’. Moscow, 1953. (Historiographical essay and bibliography on pages 353-58.)
Tikhomirov, M. N. Drevnerusskie goroda, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1956.
Ianin, V. L. Novgorodskie posadniki. Moscow, 1962.
Epifanov, P. P. “O drevnerusskom veche.” Vestnik MGU, series 9, Istoriia, 1963, no. 3.
Pashuto, V. T. “Cherty politicheskogo stroia Drevnei Rusi.” In Drevnerusskoe gosudarstvo i ego mezhdunarodnoe znachenie. Moscow, 1965.

A. V. ARTSIKHOVSKII and A. M. SAKHAROV


Veche

 

name for the chambers of representative bodies of Yugoslavia, the skupshtinas. There are general political veches of skupshtinas, which represent the entire population, and veches of labor cooperation, which represent the citizens working in production or in institutions and organizations. Communal skupshtinas have two veches, the communal veche and the veche of labor cooperation; regional, republican, and Union skupshtinas each have two general political veches, which resolve questions jointly, and three specialized veches of labor cooperation (economics; social welfare and health; culture and education), which take part in the resolution of questions within the competence of the skupshtina only in accordance with their own specializations. In the Union skupshtina, there is also a veche of nationalities, which represents the republics and autonomous region. One of the general political veches (and in the Union skupshtina, the veche of nationalities) holds the leading position, participating in the resolution of all questions examined by the skupshtina ; a second is considered the representative of the communes; and the veche of nationalities is the representative of the republics and autonomous regions.

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