The Council of People's Commissars (Russian: ????? ???????? ?????????? or ?????????, translit. Soviet narodnykh kommissarov or Sovnarkom, also as generic SNK) was a government institution formed shortly after the October Revolution in 1917. Created in the Russian Republic, the council laid foundations in restructuring the country to form the Soviet Union. It evolved to become the highest government authority of executive power in the government of the Soviet Union. The chairman of this council was thus the head of government (whereas the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was head of state).
The 1918 Constitution of the RSFSR formalised the role of the Sovnarkom of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR): it was to be responsible to the Congress of Soviets for the "general administration of the affairs of the state". The constitution enabled the Sovnarkom to issue decrees carrying the full force of law when the Congress was not in session. The Congress then routinely approved these decrees at its next session.
The first council elected by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets was composed as follows. Many early comissars later ended up in opposition to the party majority led by Stalin and allegedly conspired with the Trotskyist opposition or some other opposition group, which led to their expulsion from the party or being arrested. The party had banned factional opposition groups at the Eleventh Party Congress in 1921. Still the original People's Comissariat included Left-Communists, Trotskyists and other ex-oppositionists. Most alleged conspirators were executed for treason in the Great Purge, some had sentences reduced to imprisonment.
|People's Commissar||Original incumbent||Death|
|Chairman||Vladimir Lenin||Strokes, 1924|
|Secretary||Nikolai Gorbunov||Executed 1938|
|People's Commissariat for Agriculture of the RSFSR||Vladimir Milyutin||died in prison 1937|
|Council of People's Commissars on War and Navy Affairs||Nikolai Krylenko (War College)||Executed 1938|
|Pavel Dybenko (Navy College)||Executed 1938|
|People's Commissariat for Trade and Industry of the RSFSR||Viktor Nogin||Natural causes 1924|
|People's Commissariat for Education of the RSFSR||Anatoly Lunacharsky||Natural causes 1933|
|People's Commissariat for Food||Ivan Teodorovich||Executed 1937|
|People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the RSFSR||Leon Trotsky||Assassinated 1940|
|People's Commissariat for Interior Affairs of the RSFSR||Alexei Rykov||Executed 1938|
|People's Commissariat for Justice||Georgy Oppokov||Executed 1937|
|People's Commissariat for Labour||Alexander Shlyapnikov||Executed 1937|
|People's Commissariat of Nationalities||Joseph Stalin||Natural causes 1953|
|People's Commissariat for Posts and Telegraphs of the RSFSR||Nikolai Glebov-Avilov||Executed 1937|
|People's Commissariat for Railways||(vacant)|
|People's Commissariat for Finance||Ivan Skvortsov-Stepanov||Natural causes 1928|
|People's Commissariat for Social Welfare||Alexandra Kollontai||Natural causes 1952|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Soviet Union
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