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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
(59) In 1901, the Tobol'sk governor received an anonymous denunciation from a peasant in Kraichikovsk volost', Tara uezd, which painted a telling picture of judiciary proceedings conducted by the justice of the peace upon his arrival: "The more important cases are heard in the clerk's apartment during a drinking bout.
He saw clearly the fundamental paradox in center-local relations: Could local government institutions (either corporate or the all-estate volost') flourish, given both the pressures from the center and the low rural economic and cultural levels that inhibited the growth of an economically educated and socially conscious provincial society?
The all-estate volost' was proposed as a form of economic democratization that could eventually replace the traditional peasant commune, a subject conspicuously absent from Arsen'ev's "Domestic Surveys." The Herald thus advocated a keystone to crown the zemstvo network.
Shelamanova, "Komaritskaia volost' i Sevskii uezd v pervoi polovine 17 v.," in Voprosy istorii khoziaistva i naseleniia Rossii 17 v.: Ocherki po istoricheskoi geografii 17 v., ed.
The petitioners, moreover, revealed a good grasp of the letter of the law, continuing practices that Jane Burbank observed in prerevolutionary volost' courts but now with an explicit national resonance.
Accordingly, the third chapter, "Volost' Courts and the Dilemmas of Legal Acculturation," details the increasing manipulation of the courts by the peasants after the 1889 reform.
It disagrees, for instance, with Jane Burbank's theory of "legal acculturation," which Gaudin sees not as obvious progress but as a genuine "dilemma." To her, "the Russian volost' court retained many of the characteristics of what legal historians and anthropologists have called 'community justice'" (130).
Vorob'ev, "Il'inskaia volost' Iur'evskogo uezda po perepisiam 1881 i 1889 g.," vGZU, OEO, MOZVG, 9: Iur'evskii uezd, no.
Latyshev, "Volost'," in Entsiklopedicheskii slovar', ed.
Frierson, "Rural justice in Public Opinion: The Volost' Court Debate," Slavonic and East European Review 64, 4 (1986): 526-45.
On the origins of the township court and the 1889 reform, see Cathy Frierson, "Rural justice in Public Opinion: The Volost' Court Debate," Slavonic and East European Review 64, 4 (1986): 526-45.