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The CPSU Central Committee Apparatus, 1970–85

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Personnel and Role in the Soviet Political System

image of Russian History

The article analyzes the functions of one of the most important groups of the Soviet bureaucracy. It is based on 120 oral interviews and memoirs of former staff members of the CPSU Central Committee apparatus. In the first part, a new understanding is put forward about the place the Central Committee apparatus occupied in the functioning of the central governing institutions in the Soviet Union in the Brezhnev period. Various specific and non-obvious functions carried out by the apparatus are also discussed.The second part reviews a collective biography of the Central Committee staff. In particular, the unexpectedly high level of social class and education of the Central Committee staff is noted, as well as their remarkable level of social achievement and fairly young age at the entry level into the CC apparatus. In this part several typical biographical patterns are - analyzed. In the third part, a comparison with the Western bureaucracy is attempted. In particular, a detailed analysis is made of the anti-corruption measures and means of formation of the corporate discipline in the CC apparatus. The most important difference is found in their respective cultural background, which in the Soviet case was formed by the secondary education they received during Stalin’s rule.

Affiliations: 1: Center for East-European Studies, Bremen University,


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