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(Russian, “council”) An elected governing council in the former Soviet Union. Russian Soviets gained their revolutionary connotation in 1905, when the St Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies was formed to coordinate strikes and other anti-government activities in factories. Each factory sent its delegates, and for a time other cities were dominated by Soviets. Both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks realized the potential importance of Soviets and duly appointed delegates. In 1917 a Soviet modelled on that of 1905, but now including deserting soldiers, was formed in Petrograd (previously St Petersburg), sufficiently powerful to dictate industrial action and to control the use of armed force. It did not at first try to overthrow Kerensky's Provisional Government but grew increasingly powerful in its opposition to continuing Russian participation in World War I. Consisting of between 2000 and 3000 members, it was controlled by a powerful executive committee. Soviets were established in the provinces and in June 1917 the first All Russia Congress of Soviets met. The Bolsheviks gradually dominated policy, leading to their seizure of power in the Russian Revolution (1917). During the Russian Civil War village Soviets controlling local affairs and agriculture were common. The national Soviet was called the Supreme Soviet, comprising delegates from all the Soviet republics.

Subjects: History

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