Premier of the Soviet Union

The Premier of the Soviet Union (Russian: Глава Правительства СССР) was the head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The office had four different names throughout its existence: Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars (1923–1946), Chairman of the Council of Ministers (1946–1991), Prime Minister of the Soviet Union (January - August 1991) and Chairman of the Committee on the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy (August - December 1991). Long before 1991 most non-Soviet sources referred to the post as "Premier" or "Prime Minister."

Premier of the Soviet Union
Глава Правительства СССР
Coat of arms
Longest serving
Alexei Kosygin

15 October 1964–23 October 1980
TypeHead of government
Reports toThe Supreme Soviet
ResidenceKremlin Senate, Moscow
Appointerthe Supreme Soviet
Formation6 July 1923
First holderVladimir Lenin
Final holderIvan Silayev
Abolished26 December 1991
SuccessionPrime Minister of the Russian Federation
DeputyThe First Deputy Premier

Twelve individuals held the post. Of these two died in office of natural causes (Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin), three resigned - Alexei Kosygin, Nikolai Tikhonov and Ivan Silayev - and three were concurrently party leader and head of government (Lenin, Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev). By this account Ivan Silayev spent the briefest time in office at 119 days. At more than 16 years, Kosygin spent the longest time in office.


Lenin's First Government was created on 6 July, 1923 by the Central Executive Committee with Lenin as its first chairman. The government was empowered to initiate decrees and legislation that were binding throughout the USSR.[1] After the ousting of Khrushchev in 1964, Kosygin was appointed head of government. However, Kosygin's prestige was weakened when he proposed the economic reform of 1965.[2] Upon Valentin Pavlov's ascension to the premiership, the Council of Ministers was abolished and replaced with the Cabinet of Ministers. After the August coup of 1991, the majority of the cabinet members endorsed the coup, leading the Cabinet of Ministers dissolving and being replaced by the Committee on the Operational Management of the Soviet Economy in 1991. The government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic began seizing Soviet ministries in the aftermath of the coup, and by December 1991 the Soviet government had completely lost control of itself and shut down entirely.[3]

Under the 1977 Soviet Constitution, the head of government was the leader of the highest executive and administrative organ of state. The head of government was appointed by and accountable to the Supreme Soviet (and its Presidium).[4] The head of government was tasked with resolving all state administrative duties within the jurisdiction of the USSR to the degree which were not the responsibility of the Supreme Soviet or its Presidium. The head of government managed the national economy, formulated the five-year plans and ensured socio-cultural development.[5] It functioned as the most influential office of government until the establishment of the Office of the President of the Soviet Union in 1990.


No.[lower-alpha 1] Portrait Name
Term Electorate Cabinets Ref.
Took office Left office Duration
Vladimir Lenin
6 July 192321 January 1924 228 daysLenin I–II[6]
Alexei Rykov
2 February 192419 December 19306 years, 320 days1924
Vyacheslav Molotov
19 December 19306 May 194110 years, 138 days1931
Molotov IIIIIIIV[8]
Joseph Stalin
6 May 19415 March 1953 11 years, 303 days1946
Stalin I–IIIII[9]
Georgy Malenkov
6 March 19538 February 19551 year, 339 days1954Malenkov III[10]
Nikolai Bulganin
8 February 195527 March 19583 years, 47 days1958Bulganin[11]
Nikita Khrushchev
27 March 195815 October 19646 years, 202 days1962Khrushchev I–II[10]
Alexei Kosygin
15 October 196423 October 198016 years, 8 days1966
Kosygin I–II–III–IV–V[12]
Nikolai Tikhonov
23 October 198027 September 19854 years, 339 days1984Tikhonov I–II[13]
Nikolai Ryzhkov
(born 1929)
27 September 198514 January 19915 years, 109 days1989Ryzhkov III[13]
Valentin Pavlov
14 January 199128 August 1991[lower-alpha 2]226 daysPavlov[14]
Ivan Silayev
(born 1930)
28 August 199125 December 1991119 daysSilayev[15]

See also


  1. These numbers are not official.
  2. On August 19, 1991, due to the illness of Valentin Pavlov, the duties of the head of the government of the USSR were assigned to First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Doguzhiyev.



  1. Центральный Исполнительный Комитет съезда Советов. Статья №38 от Декабрь 1977 «Суверенные права союзных республик». (Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets. Article #38 of December 1924 Sovereign Rights of the Member Republics. ).
  2. Brown 2009, p. 403.
  3. Ferdinand 1993, p. 133.
  4. Верховный Совет СССР. Федеральный конституционный закон №130 от 7 октября 1977 «Совета Министров СССР». (Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Article #130 of 7 October 1977 The Council of Ministers of the USSR. ).
  5. Верховный Совет СССР. Федеральный конституционный закон №131 от 7 октября 1977 «Совета Министров СССР». (Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Article #131 of 7 October 1977 The Council of Ministers of the USSR. ).
  6. Cull, Culbert & Welch 2003, p. 182.
  7. Phillips 2000, p. 82.
  8. Phillips 2000, p. 89.
  9. Totten & Bartrop 2008, p. 76.
  10. Duiker & Spielvogel 2006, p. 572.
  11. Trahair & Miller 2004, p. 69.
  12. Trahair & Miller 2004, p. 37.
  13. Ploss 2010, p. 219.
  14. Валентин Сергеевич Павлов [Valentin Sergeyevich Pavlov] (in Russian). RU: Hrono. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  15. Иван Степанович Силаев [Ivan Stepanovich Silayev] (in Russian). RU: Hrono. Retrieved 6 December 2010.


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