The People's Commissariat of Nationalities (abbreviation transliterated as Narkomnats), an organisation functioning from 1917 to 1924 in the early Soviet period of Russian and Soviet history, dealt with non-Russian nationalities. Its head, Joseph Stalin, as the People's Commissar of Nationalities (1917-23), served as a member of the Council of People's Commissars.
It was established even before the October Revolution on 11 June 1917 by the Petrograd Soviet as part of three measures to create state forms that would guarantee federal and autonomous solutions to national questions in the Russian Revolution:
This decision was made in response to the crisis triggered by the Ukrainian Rada's demands for autonomy for national territories and a seat at any peace conference. These demands were rejected by Alexander Kerensky. Narkomnats was set up as an organ of the Soviets to prepare for the Constituent Assembly, particularly as regards how Ukrainian autonomy could be handled. It provided for the organisation of a congress of representatives from all of Ukraine, which in turn would set up a Ukrainian Constituent Assembly. At this time the Bolsheviks opposed any national autonomy; however, on 13 August, Joseph Stalin published a tract that floated the idea of the Party might set up an agency for nationality affairs. This came at a time when Kerensky and Mensheviks like Nikolay Chkheidze were arguing for a unified state. Kerensky told Latvian representatives that they could only hope for the status of Zemstvo.
The new Soviet constitution of 1924 dissolved Narkomnats [...].
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