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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(district). (1) Part of the territory of a state assigned to a particular branch of administration—for example, administrative, political, economic, or military districts. In some states the term “district” is applied to various types of administrative-territorial units (administrative districts), territorial groupings of military units or institutions (military districts), and temporary units set up for election campaigns (election districts).

(2) Okrugs in the USSR. In the USSR, okrugs were formed during the administrative-territorial reform of 1923–30 as administrative and economic units smaller than the gubernii (provinces) that had been abolished. They were formed according to the principles of economic regionalization and became parts of krais and oblasts and divided into raions. By 1930 there were 246 okrugs in the USSR. Okrugs were later abolished by a decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR of July 30, 1930. In the 1930’s and early 1940’s there were only a few okrugs, never more than ten at any one time. They combined administrative raions that had poor transportation connections to the centers of their republics, krais, or oblasts (Tara and Tobol’sk okrugs in Omsk Oblast and Tashauz Okrug in the Turkmen SSR) or that were economically markedly distinct from the main part of the republics, krais, or oblasts (Gur’ev Okrug, a center of the petroleum industry, in Zapadnyi Kazakhstan Oblast, and the agricultural Starobel’sk Okrug in the industrial Donetsk Oblast). There were also several okrugs in areas along the western borders of the USSR, such as Pskov and Kingisepp okrugs in Leningrad Oblast and Velikie Luki Oblast and Opochka okrug in Kalinin Oblast. As of Jan. 1, 1941, there were eight okrugs, including Astrakhan, Narym, and Pechora okrugs. With the abolition of Aldan Okrug in the Yakut ASSR (1946), administrative okrugs ceased to exist in the USSR. In 1946, Transcarpathian Oblast in the Ukrainian SSR was divided into okrugs that had the status of raions.

The national okrug is a form of Soviet autonomy. The first six national okrugs were formed in 1921 within the Gortsy ASSR; by 1924 they had been transformed into autonomous oblasts. As of Jan. 1, 1974, there were ten national okrugs in the USSR, all in the RSFSR.

In prerevolutionary Russia (from the late 18th to early 20th centuries), oblasts and some provinces were divided into okrugs (those in Siberia, Black Sea Province, and partially Kutaisi Province). In Transbaikal, Kuban’, Terek, and Syr Darya oblasts an okrug was called a department (otdel), and in Amur Oblast, an okruga. Two territorial units in Eniseisk Province that corresponded to okrugs were called krais (Turukhansk and Us krais). The Land of the Astrakhan Cossack Host in Astrakhan Province and the Kirghiz and Kalmyk steppes and the Territory of the Nomadic Peoples in Stavropol’ Province corresponded to okrugs. In the early 20th century Zakataly and Sukhumi okrugs were separate administrative-territorial units with the status of provinces.

In imperial Russia there were also various departmental okrugs, such as military, mining, transportation (waterways and highways), and judicial okrugs; udel’nye okruga (departments in charge of property for the maintenance of the imperial family); and school and church okrugs (eparkhii, or dioceses).

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