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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an administrative and territorial unit in Russia from the llth through the 20th century; in the 15th century, the volost became part of the district. During the 13th-16th centuries volosti existed on the so-called black lands—that is, crown, boyar, and monastery lands.

The volost was given by the prince to the volostel’ (volost official) for his “feeding”: the populace was assessed taxes, duties, and fees for the official’s benefit. In the mid-16th century the government abolished the “feeding” system. In the 17th century, with the establishment of city voevody (military commanders), the volost lost its significance as an independent administrative unit; however, volost government bodies were established in the late 18th century, and the volost again became an administrative-territorial unit. The 1837 reform of state peasant land tenure created a volost assembly and volost government which were subordinate to the Chamber of State Properties. According to the Law of 1861, the volost became a unit of peasant corporate administration, and from 1874 this administrative system was under the jurisdiction of the district office of peasant affairs; from 1889, jurisdiction was transferred to the district land captain.

After the February Revolution of 1917, the volost formally became a unit of “self-administration” that included all classes, but as a rule it was an organ of kulak supremacy. In the early years of Soviet power volosts were fragmented as a result of the transfer of state and gentry lands to the peasants. Beginning in 1923 the enlargement of the volost eliminated the difference between it and the district in most of the USSR. The reform of 1928-30 replaced the district-volost system of administrative-territorial division with the raion system, which was based on a consideration of the economic ties of the population to the raion’s center.


Ignat’ev, V. I. Sovetskaia volost’ i stoiashchie pered net zadachi. Leningrad, 1924.
Grekov, B. D. Krest’iane na Rusi, 2nd ed., vols. 1-2. Moscow, 1952-54.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1910, the new volost' of Slavgorod was established in Tomsk Province.
As the 1891 harvest failure threatened starvation, the Herald of Europe was the first publication to use the term "famine." (15) Doubting that the land captains could deal with such a widespread calamity, Arsen'ev resurrected his crusade for the creation of the all-estate volost', arguing that such an institution was especially beneficial in times of crisis, when imperial institutions needed to communicate rapidly with rural locales.
Norms and Tactics in Peasant Volost Court Appeals, 1889-1917," Russian Review 59, 3 (2000): 408-24; Jane Burbank, Russian Peasants Go to Court: Legal Culture in the Countryside, 1905-1917 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004); and Corinne Gaudin, Ruling Peasants: Village and State in Late Imperial Russia (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2007).
These are underpinned by a pervasive militarism and notoriously harsh "penal backup." If the Gulag inheritance is obvious in aspects of how people are punished in Putin's Russia, there are echoes linking both Liudmila's and Sonia's experiences to more distant penal practices originating in the self-regulatory peasant commune and volost' (township) court, and in the punitive powers of the gentry (pomeshchik) and imperial Russian state.
(15) Finally, Russian peasants overwhelmed the volost ' (township) courts with property disputes and other civil actions, and although these cases were governed by customary law and technically off-limits to professional advocates, peasants sometimes turned to the consultation bureaus for assistance with their volost' claims.
In 1882, it published Arsen'ev's "liberal program," which included freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, personal inviolability, educational reform, rural land and tax reform, and the establishment of an all-estate volost' (rural township or canton, a self-government unit below the district zemstvo).
In a manner similar to Jane Burbank's arguments on the volost' courts, McReynolds argues that Russian juries were relatively autonomous in their "legal values," but she glosses over the consequences of such legal values (111).
(18) Sevsk district comprised the Komaritskaia court peasants' canton (dvortsovaia volost'), which provided about 5,000 men for service in dragoon regiments.
These took place in Fergana relatively late: surveying had started in 1889 and covered the whole district of Andijan (and one volost'in Osh district) in 1893, Margelan in 1896, Namangan in 1899, and Kokand in 1902.