Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

(ASSR)
   Political subdivision of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet era, the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) was the second-most sovereign political subdivision within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), subjugated only to the union republics or Soviet Socialist Republics (SSRs). Most ASSRs were subnational entities within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), with the important exceptions of Moldova, Abkhazia (which was part of the Georgian SSR), and Karakalpakistan within the Uzbek SSR. Unlike the union republics, the ASSRs lacked the nominal right to secede from the union. Under Joseph Stalin, the process of national delimitation (1922–1936), which established the Soviet Union’s internal borders, saw a small number of ASSRs elevated to the status of union republic, for example, the Kazakh ASSR, while others, like the Mountainous ASSR, were broken into smaller units based on ethnic divisions, for example, Chechnya and North Ossetiya. During World War II, the Crimean and Volga German ASSRs were abolished when their titular populations were deported to Siberia and Central Asia; during the same period, Kareliya, in a gambit to annex portions of Finland, was raised to the status of a union republic, and then returned to an ASSR in 1956. In the waning days of perestroika, several ASSRs unsuccessfully sought to elevate their status to SSRs, including Chechnya. Other lesser political units, such as Adygeya and the Altay Republic, successfully joined the ranks of the ASSRs prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Prior to Russia’s independence, most ASSRs declared their sovereignty and renamed themselves as ethnic republics of the Russian Federation.
   See also Germans, Ethnic.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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