Professor Tõnu-Andrus Tannberg, University of Tartu
Dr. David Feest, Nordost-Institut, Lüneburg
The monopoly of power in the Soviet Union's system of government belonged to the one and only party - the Communist Party. Yet the USSR's instruments of power were both organs of the Communist Party and state organs that formed a binary power and directorial structure that was closely intertwined with each other. This thesis considers the Council of Ministers - the government of the Soviet republic based on the example of the government of the Estonian SSR (ESSR). The task is to ascertain the principles for forming the organisation of government, organising its management and its cadre policy, and to analyse the mechanisms for their implementation and the ways they functioned, as well as the members of Government. According to the Soviet Constitution, the Council of Ministers was the highest executive and organisational organ of state power in the Union republic but actually it carried out local administrative functions, which meant executing the policies and orders of the central power of the Soviet Union. The network of ESSR governmental organs was formed according to the example and needs of the government of the Soviet Union. The nomenklatura system ensured that members of the government could not be appointed to office without the consent of the CPSU CC. The period between 1940 and 1953 was significant in the institutional development of the Council of Ministers of the ESSR. The model was designed for how the executive power of the Union republic functioned, and this remained substantially unchanged until the end of the ESSR period. In the early 1940's, decision making shifted almost completely into the hands of the leadership of the Council of Ministers, which formed the Council of Ministers Bureau. By the middle of the decade, the nomenklatura mechanisms related to the appointment and dismissal of members of the Council of Ministers became established. Ministries and governmental organs were frequently reorganised and their leaders changed often. The composition of the Council of Ministers was quite homogeneous in terms of nationality. Yet the differences in length of party membership as well as educational background and professional qualification among members of Government were considerably more sizable.