From the “Decree of the VTZIK of January 1, 1931, published in the Collection of Laws and Regulations, No. I I . Part I. of March 26, 1931”, quoted from Sidney and Beatrice Webb’s “Soviet Communism: a New Civilisation”.
The powers and authorised functions of the village soviet in the USSR are elaborately set forth in the decree of the Central Executive Committee of January 1, 1931, of which the following is a summarised translation:
We have, first, the general functions stated:
1. A Selosoviet is the supreme organ of power within its territory, through which the proletariat performs its dictatorship.
2. A Selosoviet carries out, in accordance with the laws and with the regulations of its higher authorities, the following tasks:
(a) It organises the poor-batraks and the middle-peasants masses of the village, carries out the work of social-economic life of the village, participates in the industrialisation of the country, and combats the kulaks and other class enemies and liquidates the kulaks as a class, by means of mass collectivisation.
(b) It carries resolutions on all questions connected with the village and discusses problems of the krai, oblast, republic, and of the entire Union of Republics, submitting its considerations to the higher authorities.
(c) It controls the activities of all its own institutions, enterprises and organisations, supervises the work of the institutions on its territory which are not subordinated to it, and renders assistance to all institutions on its territory.
(d) It takes the necessary steps to supervise the work of the institutions and citizens for the State.
(e) It combats all the activities which are contrary to the class proletarian policy and attends to the obedience of every citizen and official to the laws and regulations of the Soviet power.
The decree then enumerates an incredibly lengthy list of functions which the village soviet is supposed to fulfill:
6. In the election of the Selosoviet:
(a) It organises the election commission and controls the entire election campaign.
(b) It prepares a list of persons who ought to be deprived of the right of election, and keeps up to date the list of deprived persons, sanctioned by the Rayon Ispolkom.
(c) It elects delegates to the Rayon Congress of Soviets.
7. In the sphere of mass organisation:
(a) It attracts to its work workmen, batraks, kolkhosniks and the poor-middle elements of the village.
(b) It takes necessary steps to attract women to soviet construction work and facilitates their promotion to responsible posts.
(c) It conducts systematic work amongst the batraks and poor, improves conditions of work of their groups, and discusses with them all important questions of the agenda of the Selosoviet meeting.
(d) It conducts political and economic propaganda amongst the vast masses of labouring people.
(e) It forms the soviet and kolkhos cadres.
(f) It convokes general meetings of electors (not less than three times a year), reports there on its activities, and discusses all important problems of the soviet economic and cultural construction.
8. In the sphere of the national policy, the Selosoviet takes necessary measures in protecting the national minorities, in raising their political, economic and cultural standard, and in attracting them to the Soviet construction.
9. In the sphere of planning and statistics:
(a) It prepares a plan of the economic and social-cultural construction of the village and submits it to the Rayon ispolkom.
(b) It sanctions the plans of its own institutions and controls their execution.
(c) It discusses the plans of other institutions on its territory, gives its opinion on them and collaborates in their execution.
(d) It elects the village statisticians-representatives and carries on all statistical work.
(e) It keeps the register of village households.
10. In the sphere of the socialist reconstruction and of the development of agriculture:
(a) It takes necessary steps to preserve the existing kolkhoses and to form the new ones.
(b) It discusses and sanctions the plans of collective farms and other cooperative organisations.
(c) It periodically arranges meetings for hearing the reports of the institutions dealing with the kolkhoses as well as the reports of the kolkhoses themselves, which are situated on its territory.
(d) It gives its conclusions as to requests for credits and equipment for the kolkhoses.
(e) It assists in the introduction of new methods in the collective farms.
(f) It supervises the distribution of labour and technical staff in the collective farms and attends to the discipline in the collective and soviet enterprises.
(g) It pronounces its veto on any illegal decisions of the collective farms, and other cooperative institutions and reports immediately on this to the Rayon Ispolkom.
(h) It takes necessary steps to develop the collectivisation of farms and assists the batraks and the individual peasants in forming kolkhoses.
(i) It renders assistance to sovkhoses and to the M.T.S. (Motor and Tractor Stations).
(k) It takes all necessary measures in increasing the area sown, and in raising the yield, and encourages the development of all kinds of farming and the introduction of agricultural improvements.
(l) It assists the government in the nationalisation of lands and reports on all lands and fields which are in possession of collective farms or individual peasants and advises, if necessary, on their confiscation.
(m) It controls the activities of agricultural societies and liquidates them in the areas of mass collectivisation, with the sanction of the Rayon Ispolkom.
11. In the sphere of industry :
(a) It runs its own industry.
(b) It controls the use of sandstone and clay on its territory.
(c) It supervises its home industry and assists kustars in creating artels.
(d) It supervises all enterprises on its territory and renders them the necessary assistance.
12. In the sphere of forestry:
(a) It looks after the forests which have a local use.
(b) It develops timber and the wood-chemical industry.
(c) It supervises all woods and forests on its territory and renders assistance in preserving woods of national importance and protects all woods and forests from fire, damage, etc.
13. In the sphere of supply, cooperation and trade:
(a) It attracts the local population to cooperative organisations and improves their activities.
(b) It collects and controls funds for the purpose of cooperation and collectivisation of batraks (landless peasants).
(c) It controls the local trade and prices.
(d) It supervises local markets, fairs, etc.
(e) It fixes rents for shop premises and stalls.
14. In the sphere of finance and budget:
(a) It drafts the Selosoviet Budget and submits it to the Rayon Ispolkom.
(b) It deals with the approved credits.
(c) It collects taxes and rates.
(d) It deals with the deductions of local taxes and rates, with the terms of payment, etc.
(e) It collects fines and sells by auction the property of persons who have not paid them.
(f) It makes inventories of inheritances and communicates them to the Rayon Ispolkom.
(g) It takes part in building up the state credit system and in the floating of state loans, etc.
(h) It deals with the self-taxation of the population.
(j) It cooperates with the insurance schemes.
15. In the sphere of local government:
(a) It deals with all housing questions, school and hospital buildings, etc.
(b) It repairs local roads, bridges, etc.
16. In the sphere of communications the Selosoviet collaborates with the Narkompochtel.
17. In the sphere of labour:
(a) It attends to the strict fulfillment of the Labour Code.
(b) It registers and controls all collective agreements of batraks with their employers.
(c) It attracts, if necessary, the local population to public works in making roads, organising transport, etc.
18. In the sphere of education:
(a) It liquidates illiteracy and opens all kinds of educational institutions.
(b) It supervises the public education of children, takes care of the homeless waifs, appoints trustees to them, etc.
(c) It assists the government in establishing agricultural and technical education, distributes young persons amongst different schools and factories, etc.
(d) It sees to the supply of boots, clothing and food to the poorest children.
19. In the sphere of health:
(a) It supervises all the hospitals and sanitary establishments, which are maintained on the Selosoviet Budget.
(b) It fakes all necessary steps to the organisation of sanitary inspection and combats venereal diseases.
(c) It advances the knowledge of personal hygiene and develops physical culture.
(d) It appoints trustees to insane persons.
20. In the sphere of social insurance:
(a) It keeps the register of insured persons and pays out the benefits.
(b) It forms artels of invalids.
(c) It takes a special care of Army invalids, veterans of the Civil War, and of all persons who suffered from the kulaks and contra-revolutionaries. It forms them into collective farms.
(d) It supervises the activities of the societies for mutual aid.
(e) It appoints trustees to blind and dumb persons, etc.
21. In the sphere of the defence of the country:
(a) It keeps the register of all persons liable for military service.
(b) It registers horses, carriages and other requisites of war.
(c) It assists in recruiting.
(d) It takes care of the families of persons serving in the Peasants-Workers Army.
(e) It undertakes all kinds of useful military training.
(f) It participates in organisation of military training courses.
(g) It deals suitably with persons avoiding military compulsory service.
22. In the sphere of judicial prosecution:
(a) It forms a village judicial court.
(b) It supervises the election of judges.
(c) It attends to the strict fulfilment of the decisions of the court.
(d) It deals with notarial acts.
(e) It finds employment for persons sentenced to compulsory work.
23. In the sphere of revolutionary activities:
(a) It attends to the maintenance of revolutionary order and combats all anti-soviet elements.
(b) It arrests suspected persons.
(c) It deals with domiciliary searches and inspection of documents.
(d) It combats drunkenness, hooliganism and secret sale of alcoholic drink.
(e) It appoints village executive officers (Ispolnitel).
(f) It collects administrative fines.
24. In the sphere of administration:
(a) It registers deeds, issues identity cards, etc.
(b) It keeps the register of all voluntary organisations on its territory and supervises their activities.
(c) It attends to the strict fulfilment of the laws regulating religious societies.