Acts of Agencies of State Authority

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Acts of Agencies of State Authority

 

in the USSR, mandatory general rules or individual instructions issued by the representative institutions of the Soviet state—the soviets of working people’s deputies.

Since all agencies of state authority in the USSR are elected directly by the citizens, these acts formulate and confirm the will of the electorate. The procedure for issuing acts of agencies of state authority is set forth by the USSR Constitution, the constitutions of the Union and autonomous republics, regulations of the supreme soviets, and the statutes on the local soviets of working people’s deputies. A distinction is made between acts of the higher and local agencies of state authority. The former are issued by the USSR Supreme Soviet and by the supreme soviets of the Union and autonomous republics and by their presidiums, the latter by the local agencies of state authority.

The USSR Supreme Soviet is competent to adopt a constitution, to amend it, and to issue USSR laws. The supreme soviets of the Union and autonomous republics have similar authority with respect to the constitutions of the corresponding republics, except that the supreme soviet of an autonomous republic must submit the constitution it has adopted to the supreme soviet of its Union Republic for approval. Since the constitution is the basic law, it possesses the highest juridical authority: all laws and other legal acts must conform to the constitution.

Next to the constitution, the laws with the highest juridical force are those that only the Supreme Soviet can adopt and annul. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet can make changes in legislation, but these changes must be approved by the Supreme Soviet. Besides the laws, the supreme soviets issue decrees on some questions within their competence that do not call for a normative decision—for instance, the election or appointment of the USSR prosecutor general or of the chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers. The USSR Supreme Soviet adopts statements and messages on foreign policy questions. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issues decrees and, on some questions, ordinances.

The local agencies of state authority—krai, oblast, okrug, raion, city, and rural soviets—adopt decisions within the limits of the authority granted them by the laws of the USSR and of the Union and autonomous republics. A local soviet has the sole authority to adopt decisions on some questions, such as election of the executive committee or approval of the local budget. Executive agencies do not have the right to make decisions on these questions. An act of a local soviet can be annulled either by the soviet that has adopted it or by a higher soviet. The executive committee of the higher soviet has no right to annul an act of a lower soviet. It can only suspend the act and remand the question for definitive solution either to the soviet that has adopted the act or to the higher soviet. The presidiums of the supreme soviets of the Union and autonomous republics exercise supervision over the legality of the acts adopted by local agencies of state authority and have the right to abrogate these acts if they are contrary to the laws.

The agencies of state authority in the other socialist countries are governed by similar principles. In most bourgeois countries parliaments formally have the exclusive jurisdiction to adopt constitutions and laws. Actually, however, many functions of parliament, including legislative functions, are often delegated to the executive branch.

V. F. KOTOK

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.