The administrative division of the Russian FSR is highly complex. The Proclamation of the Rights of the Peoples of Russian, decreed by the Sovnarkom gave extensive autonomy and self rule to all ethnic and linguistics of the former Russian Empire. Also the mandate of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets to establish a federal socialist republic on the basis of a free union of the people of Russia. This established several territorial units with diverse autonomy.

The administrative division distinguishes:

  • Non-autonomous territories. It is the basic organization of the Russian FSR. At the first level are oblasts (or krai in Northern Russia). These are subdivided into raion (or rayon). The raion have has component units, and organized hierarchically according to their administrative powers; Cities, Urban-type settlement and rural-type settlements. At each its habitants elected a Council, who designates an Administrative Council.
  • Autonomous territories. These are territories where titular nationalities have internal autonomy. They are organized in autonomous socialist republics, autonomous oblast, and autonomous okrug. Below this levels there also exists national districts (population 5,000-50,000) and national townships (population 500-5,000).

Some nationalities, like the Turkic speaking ones (Tatar and Bashkir) or in the Caucasus, allied with the Bolsheviks in the civil war and welcomed the end of czarist repression. These became the initial autonomies and prototypes of national development.

For others a process of nation building process was necessary because a lack of a national or political self-consciousness. In these cases steps where made for national-building: a) Creation of written national language (if it had been lacking), national language planning, native-language press, and books written in the native language came with the national territory, b) primary schooling and alphabetization in national language, c) promotion and use of nationality languages in local administration, d) encouragement or creation, training and promotion of national elites to develop and take over the leading administrative and Party positions, sometimes in proportions exceeding the proportion of the native populations. In some cases, such as in the decossackization process, mass population transfers where obligatory mandated and executed in order to established well-defined national territorial units (national delimitation).

The ideal territorial sequence, depending on cultural, political and economical development, was of national district, autonomous okrug, autonomous oblast and finally autonomous socialist republic, Some, within Russia where only recognized cultural and educational rights and thereby established as national districts or townships. This was the case for Belorussians, Ukrainians, Volga-Germans, Yidisher (Yiddish speakers, i.e. Jews), Karelians, Koreans, and Mongolians.

  • Russian FSR (1932)
  • Russian FSR (1949)

Autonomous territories

The autonomous territories are the following:

Autonomous socialist republics (Автономная Социалистическая Республика)
ASR Date establishment Administrative center Area km² Languages Notes
Tatar 1919-1923 Kazan 68,000 Russian and Tatar Merged with Bashkir ASR, becoming the Tatar-Bashkir ASR
Bashkir 1919-1923 Ufa 143,600 Russian and Bashkir Merged with Tatar ASR, becoming the Tatar-Bashkir ASR
Dagestan 1921 Makhachkala 50,300 Russian, Aghul, Avar, Azeri, Chechen, Dargwa, Kumyk, Lak, Lezgian, Nogai, Rutul, Tabasaran, Tat and Tsakhur Initialy divided in districts, later replaced by cantons and subcantons
Gorskaya 1921 Vladikavkaz 73.000 Russian, Karachay, Kabardin, Balkar, Ossetian, Ingush, Chechen, Abaza, Cherkess, Nogal Comprises 7 okrugs and two cities (Grozny and Vladikavkaz)
Tuva 1922 Kyzyl 170,500 Russian and Tuvan
Buryat-Mongol 1922 Ulan-Ude 376.400 Russian and Buryat
Yakut 1922 Yakutsk 3,103,200 Russian and Sakha
Tatar-Bashkir 1923 Kazan 211,600 Russian, Tatar and Bashkir
Karelia 1923 Petrozavodsk 147,000 Russian, Finnish, Veps, Ingria
Udmurt 1936 Izhevsk 42,100 Russian and Udmurt

Autonomous oblasts (Автономная область)
AO Date establishment Administrative center Area km² Languages Notes
Chuvash 1920 Cheboksary 18,300 Russian and Chuvash From 1923 is subordinated to Tatar-Bashkir ASR
Kalmyk 1921 Elista 76,000 Russian and Kalmyk
Adyghe 1921 Maykop 7,600 Russian and Adyghe
Mordovian 1922 Saransk 26,200 Russian and Mordivin
Mari 1922 Yoshkar-Ola 23,200 Russian and Mari
Udmurt 1923-1936 Izhevsk 42,100 Russian and Udmurt In 1936 promoted to ASR of same name


1925 Gorno-Altaysk 92,600 Rusisan and Altai
Khakas 1928 Abakan 61,900 Russian and Khakas
Komi 1949 Syktyvkar 448,600 Russian and Komi

Autonomous okrugs (Автономный округ)
AOk Date establishment Administrative center Area km² Languages Notes
Chukotka 1932 Anadyr 737,700 Russian and Chukchi Subordinated to Magadan Oblast
Dolgan-Nenets 1932 Dudinka 862,100 Russian, Dolgan and Nenets Subordinated to Krasnoyarsk Krai
Evenk 1932 Tura 767,600 Russian and Evenki Subordinated to Krasnoyarsk Krai
Khanti-Mansi 1932 Khanty-Mansiysk 534,800 Russian, Khanty and Mansi Subordinated to Tyumen Oblast
Komi-Peryak 1932-1949 Kudymkar 32,700 Russian and Komi (Komi-Peryak) Subordinated to Perm Oblast. United in 1949 with Komi-Zyryan in the Komi AO
Komi-Zyryan 1932-1949 Syktyvkar 415,900 Russian and Komi (Komi-Zyryan) Subordinated to Arkhangelsk Oblast. United in 1949 with Komi-Peryyak in the Komi AO
Koryak 1932 Palana 301,500 Russian, Koryak and Chukchi Subordinated to Kamchatka Oblast
Nenets 1932 Naryan-Mar 176,700 Russian, Nenets and Komi Subordinated to Arkhangelsk Oblast
Yamalo-Nenets 1932 Salekhard 750,300 Russian, Nenets, and Khanty Subordinated to Tyumen Oblas

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