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(1) An official (officer or general) in the armed forces of various states. The commander of a fortress garrison was first called a commandant in the 16th century. In Russia up until 1715 the commandant of a military garrison was also the district governor, but after that date he was only the chief of the garrison. There were commandants of headquarters under the commander in chief and under the commanders of individual armies; there were also city commandants, commandants of railroad and waterway sectors, and corps commandants. In the Soviet armed forces there are garrison commandants, military commandants of railroad and waterway sectors and of railroad stations and ports, commandants of water crossings, and so forth.
A garrison commandant is appointed in every garrison. He sees to it that servicemen observe military discipline in public places and in the streets and that the guard and patrol service is conducted properly; he also organizes the protection and defense of objectives within the garrison and the garrison patrol service. In Moscow and Leningrad the garrison commandant is also the city commandant.
The military commandant of a railroad or waterway sector and of a railroad station or port, who is a representative of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, ensures the fulfillment of military transport plans and exercises the functions of a garrison commandant within the territory of his sector.
The commandant of water crossings, who is appointed from among the commanders of units or subunits of the engineer troops, ensures order and discipline at points where troops have to cross water barriers.
(2) The administrator of a house belonging to an institution or educational establishment or occupied by them.