The Soviet Union (Officially called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Russian: Союз Советских Социалистических Республик - Transliteration: Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik) or USSR (Russian: СССР , transliterated as "SSSR") is a Socialist / Communist State in Eurasia created in 1922 from the territories of the Russian Empire. After being invaded by Nazi Germany in 1941 and dragged into the Second World War, the Soviet Union - newly industrialized under Josef Stalin with the world's second-largest economy - became a major world superpower in opposition to the United States. Although aligned with the Allies (USA, Great Britain, France and many others) against Germany, Italy and Japan during WWII, the USSR's relations with the other Allied powers would almost immediately break down in the post-war period. On August 29th of 1949, the Soviets tested RSD-1, their first Atomic Bomb (before which only the USA had tested or used a nuclear weapon). This would mark the beginning of what came to be known as the Cold War: a global competition between the world's two leading superpowers, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Eventually, more than 100 years later in 2057, the conflict would lead to a third World War between Soviet- and American-Aligned forces.
The Point of DivergenceEdit
Grigory Vasilyevich Romanov was elected to the position of General-Secretary (i.e. de facto leader) of the Soviet Union in 1985, replacing Konstantin Chernenko who had died in 1984. This was, however, a very close-run and controversial affair, with Mikhail Gorbachov - a young, upstart western-loving reformer - very nearly being chosen instead. Romanov was the more "reactionary" of the two major candidates, and many were apprehensive that he would take the USSR down the path of another Stalinist rampage (not to mention he bore the surname of the old emperors of Russia). However, Romanov proved much more flexible in his traditionalism than Leonid Brezhnev, one of his neo-Stalinist predecessors who had largely been blamed for the present state of the USSR's economy.
Romanov was faced with the widespread stagnation and mis-management of the Soviet economy, a lack of growth of income among the populace and a crippling military budget amounting to 15-20% of the USSR's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to the Cold War with the United States. Through gradual and carefully-targeted reform, he tackled these problems, though the Soviet Union would remain on the verge of collapse for the entirity of his tenure.
A Union ResurgesEdit
Relief for the struggling USSR would finally come in 2008 with the advent of a global economic recession, fueled by the collapse of a housing bubble in the United States. The price of oil - the major lynchpin of the Soviet economy - rapidly skyrocketed. By 2015, a bankrupt China, destroyed by its own housing bubble and an inability to afford food for its massive population, would be annexed into the USSR. In a stroke, the USSR's economic problems (most notably a "hot" workforce with unnaturally low unemployment due to the lack of population growth) would be solved. Over the next 20 years, the USSR would go on to annex much of Asia, either through diploamtic pressure or outright military invasion.
In 2032, tensions between the USSR and NATO (the U.S. and its allies) culiminated in war when the Soviets attempted to annex India, one of Asia's last remaining indepedent nations. Diplomatic offerings and threats from the Soviet Union's capital in Moscow failed and resulted in a military invasion of the Indian state, provoking a major NATO response to keep the powerful & populous non-Communist state alive. India's 1.5 million people - which were, in themselves, more than the entire population of the NATO countries combined - would be subjected to approximately 5 years of warfare between the world's major superpower blocs.
By 2038, NATO forces had withdrawn from the Indian subcontinent. The formerly-indepenent Republic of India was proclaimed to be the Indian Soviet Socialist Republic (Russian: Индийский Советской Социалистической Республики, tr. Indiyskiy Sovetskoy Sotsialisticheskoy Respubliki): a constituent state of the USSR. From then on, the Soviet Union would control a vast nation comprising the far extent of Eastern Europe all the way to the Korean Peninsula, from Siberia down to the islands of Indonesia. The USSR would be the largest and most populous state the World had ever known.
Capital: Moscow (Russian: Москва, Moskva)
Languages: Russian (Chinese is also a de facto second national language), hundreds of minor languages
Religion: None (State Atheism)
Government: Nominally-federative Union; highly-centralized Marxist-Leninist Single Party State
GDP (nominal): $190 trillion in 2012 USD
Head of State:
-Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (de jure)
-General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (de facto)
Head of Government: Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Premier for short)
Legislature: Supreme Soviet
-Soviet of the Union (Upper Chamber)
-Soviet of Nationalities (Lower Chamber)
Area: ~40,000,000 Km^2
Population: ~7 billion (growth rate: ~4.5, well above average)
Currency: Soviet Ruble (Abbreviated as R or RUB)
Internet TLD: .su
Calling Code: +7
The structure of the Soviet government has changed little since Romanov's inauguration as General Secretary of the CPSU, apart from the 'shuffling around' of the vast array of Ministries and State Committees responsible for centralized planning and/or management of nearly every facet of the country - mergers between some, the creation of new ones, and general changes in the importance / status of others.
With a few exceptions much earlier in the country's history, the de facto leader of the Soviet Union - being a highly-centralized single-party state - is the head of its ruling party: the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union [Russian: «Генеральный секретарь Коммунистической партии Советского Союза», transliterated as "General'nyy sekretar' Kommunisticheskoy partii Sovetskogo Soyuza"]. The Party, which is almost always referred to by its abbreviation of CPSU [Russian: «КПСС», or KPSS] even on official documents, is the ultimate organ of power in the nation despite the existence of more 'conventional' Executive, Legislative and Judicial organs of government. It has been, for the whole of its history, the only legal and ruling political party in the nation, and is constitutionally enshrined as the 'leading and guiding' force of the country as well as the nucleus of its government. It controls - through its constitutional central role, the development of de facto legal traditions as well as the creation of various governing processes, not to mention a healthy dose of police oversight - every tier of government and all social institutions within the country. Each constituent Union Republic has a ruling Communist Party of its own with a similarly-high level of importance inside its territory that answers directly (not to mention slavishly) to the CPSU. There are, however, two exceptions to this. The Russian SFSR [«Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика», tr. 'Rossiyskaya Sovetskaya Federativnaya Sotsialisticheskaya Respublika'], as the 'nucleus' of the country with the most political - and, historically, economic - importance, is ruled directly by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Communist Party of China [Simplified Chinese: 中国共产党, Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng - Russian: «Коммунистическая партия Китая» / «КПК», or Kommunisticheskaya partiya Kitaya / KPK], given its independent history and the importance of the Chinese SSR within the whole of the Union, has a large degree of autonomy that varies with the passage of time. Indeed, there are internal power struggles and tugs of war for influence - largely over the Communist Parties of [North] Korea and Southeast Asia - between the CPC and CPSU, as various leaders of either organization attempt to assert more control. Legally, however, the CPSU is the supreme body and as such the Chinese leadership ultimately answers to it.
The Executive Government of the Soviet Union - and its de jure highest executive / administrative authority - is the Council of Ministers, often referred to within the country for short (even officially, and more recently also in the West) as Sovmin [«Совмин»]. The Council of Ministers is similar to the Cabinet of a Parliamentary Democracy, although it is much larger. It is led by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, who might be thought of as a Prime Minister and, like a PM, is the de jure (somewhat de facto) head-of-government. As such, the Sovmin Chairman is often referred to - originally in the West, but by now also domestically - as the Premier. The Council of Ministers as a whole consists of the Ministers and Chiefs in charge of the Ministries and State Committees, respectively, that manage the country (the difference between these two types of management organs will be discussed later). Within the Council of Ministers is the Presidium, the 'Permanent' nucleus of the organization composed of its most important members - responsible for exercising the authority of the Council of Ministers outside of its meetings as a 'speedier' and 'more direct' organ of authority than the bloated Council itself. The composition of the Presidium is a State Secret and the body itself is considered a shadowy organization, even by the USSR's population. Membership is fluid - which Ministry and State Committee executives have Presidium Seats varies, although the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, the First Deputy Chairman and the Deputy Chairmen (there is usually more than one) are always in the Presidium and act as its leadership. As such, the real power of the Council of Ministers is largely exercised by the Presidium and the entire Council only convenes when important decisions need to be made. Sovmin's most important decisions, however, are made jointly with the CPSU - in other words, they are essentially made by the Party through the compliance and implementation of the Council of Ministers.
It is worth noting that Konstantin Ilyich Sorokin [Константин Ильич Сорокин], the current leader of the USSR, is the first person since Nikita Krushchev - roughly 100 years prior - to simultaneously hold the offices of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Council of Ministers. This is due to a constitutional amendment pushed, not without a considerable degree of controversy, by Sorokin's predecessor as General Secretary to remove the claus that prevents this very occurance (and which was originally put in place after Khrushchev's forced retirement to prevent one man from accumulating too much authority). This, in essence, simply the [re-]formalization of a trend that had already existed: Khrushchev's successor, Leonid Brezhnev, successfully centralized just as much - if not more - authority around himself within a few short years, despite the reform.
Leadership & Konstantin SorokinEdit
The ascension of Konstantin Sorokin represents a return to the dynamics of 'Personal Rule' not seen since the leadership of Stalin and - to a lesser extent - Khrushchev. Following Khrushchev's ousting in 1964, reforms were made in the USSR to prevent any one person from accumulating such levels of power, the most notable of which was - as mentioned above - a constitutional amendment forbidding the simultaenous holding of the offices of General Secretary and Premier [Chairman of the Council of Ministers] by a single individual. Thus, the rule of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982) saw the decline of individual control within the country and the ossification of its leadership - beginning in the '70s - into an entrenched ruling class of elderly individuals: a gerontocracy. The average age for a member of the Politburo (the central policy-making body of the CPSU) in 1980 was 70, compared with 61 at the beginning of Brezhnev's rule - 1964 - and 55 in 1952 just before the death of Stalin.
There was a brief reversal of this 'solidification' trend in 1985 with the election of the comparatively younger Grigory Romanov, then in his early 60s. By the time of his death in 2008, however, the 'age oligarchy' had set in once again. Konstantin Sorokin's direct predecessor, General Secretary Igor Razuvayev, while billing himself as a traditionalist who would not 'rock the boat', essentially took office in order to pave the way for the much younger Sorokin, his protége. The Soviet Union, argued Razuvayev, "has always been saved in times of crisis, or made its greatest achievements, when under the leadership of a single dynamic individual". This was the appeal he used to have the claus aforementioned claus forbidding simultaneous holding of the country's two most important positions, although he - much to the confusion of the rest of the Soviet leadership - did not himself take the position of Premier upon successfully implementing the change. Rather, he passed his own office - the all-important General Secretaryship - onto then-Premier Sorokin upon his death. This effectively ended the long period of 'Collective Rule', wherein the USSR's top officials had lead the country jointly with none of them having (too much) power over one another, that had existed since the early 21st Century.
Konstantin Sorokin himself, then a mere 38 years of age (barely old enough to qualify for the office of President in the United States), became General Secretary on December 2nd - the same date that Cuba, in 1961, officially adopted Marxism-Leninism - in 2049. Prior to this however, for roughly the previous half-decade, he had exercised effective executive authority from the position of Chairman of the Council of Ministers due to his mentor's failing health, in much the same capacity as did Mikhail Gorbachev for the ailing and old Konstantin Chernenko. (Although Razuvayev, unlike Chernenko, had already served as an effective leader for a long time perior, and would hold the General Secretaryship for a total of 19 years by the time of his death: a longer period of time than any Soviet leader except Stalin and Romanov).
Sorokin, whose Date of Birth is January 17th of 2011, is the first Soviet leader to have been born in the 21st Century. The rest of the Soviet leadership at the time of his ascension in 2049 had a strong collective memory of those troubling times, the late Brezhnev Era and the majority of Romanov's tenure, when the national economy had stagnated, then begun to fail, and the USSR tore itself apart in a civil war. Sorokin, however, accustomed to leading from his position as the de jure Head-of-State (the Chairman / Premier of the Council of Ministers [Sovmin]), effectively represented a change in the once-almighty authority of the CPSU. Although he by no means rendered it irrelevent, or even really degraded its legal powers, he subordinated it more thoroughly to the actual de jure Executive Apparatus. The Chairman, who reccomends the candidates for leadership of Sovmin's innumerable Ministries and State Committees to the Supreme Soviet, effectively controlled appointments to the highest positions of actual government, as the Supreme Soviet rarely contradicts these choices - and, after Sorokin's acquisition of the General Secretaryship, essentially had to agree with them. At the beginning of Sorokin's rule, the majority of these Ministers and Committee Chiefs were quite old and, despite his young age, were for the most part stalwart supporters, having been given their positions by his mentor during Razuvayev's roughly 20 years of political leadership.
In February, 2051, the incumbent Chairman of the KGB died. Sorokin had, up until this point, largely 'played ball' with the existing oligarchy, mostly refraining from overtly upsetting the balance while preferring to affect change behind closed doors and through seemingly-innocuous reforms with veiled implications, much like Razuvayev before him. In a sudden stroke of overt action that would have profound lasting implications for the country's elite, he appointed his longtime cohort and friend from his days in military service, Liú Qí (Simplified Chinese: 刘淇 - Cyrillic: Лю Ци) - who was already Chairman of the GRU (the Military Intelligence apparatus) - to leadership of the KGB. In a parallel of Sorokin's own position, this was only the third time in Soviet history that both posts to be held by a single individual - as well as the first time such powers (effective control over the USSR's vast intelligence, espionage and police apparatus) lay in the hands of a non-Slav.
The nation's traditionally-independent and pervasive Security / Political Intelligence agency now under his control, Sorokin moved to do away with the entrenched aristocracy. Within a few short years, only a handful of loyal (and thoroughly 'whipped') gerontocrats remained at their posts, most of which were military positions. The remainder had been swept away by a wave of eager and capable, but sycophantic, younger men...
Many parallels have been drawn between the current Soviet leadership and the rule of Joseph Stalin. Like the period of the so-called 'Red Tsar', who controlled the nation with an iron fist from the late 1920s until 1953, the majority of decisions are made in an informal setting by a small clique of individuals, whose de facto power does not always represent the de jure authority of their positions. Sorokin cultivates an image of a cultured and educated 'young' Progressive with backwoodsy, common-man origins - a hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking, macho bachelor of wit and action who is in touch with the needs of the people. His celebrity-like status among the common men and women of the nation, which began well before he gained leadership, serves as one of the most powerful 'foundations' of his authority (along with his control over the KGB through Liú Qí). However, the image he presents to the outside world is largely consistent with his character and, as under Stalin, the preponderance of decision-making is done during informal 'get-togethers' with his allies - which often, again similar to Stalin, take a form more reminiscent of parties between close friends, usually involving a large meal and copious amounts of alcohol.
Actual meetings of the CPSU Politburo and the Presidium of the Council of Ministers - which now, apart from a few exceptions, consist largely of the same individuals - serve, for all intents and purposes, to formalize decisions already made 'off-the-record' by the informal inner circle and/or to allow consultation with various individuals who, although important and loyal, are not privy to said clique. In other words, the Presidium and Politburo have blurred together under Sorokin's leadership to the point of becoming largely synonymous, although the two institutions remain separate primarily because it is a useful tool by which certain persons too important / visible to simply force out can be distanced from the leadership process. The CPSU, which in prior times was involved in all important policy-making by the Council of Ministers through 'joint declarations', now rarely has any involvement in decisions of any magnitude and essentially, like the Supreme Soviet, serves as a rubber stamp institution to legitimize Sorokin's innitiatives. Thus, there is a strong divide within the Party between Sorokin's generally-younger 'henchmen' (along with a few older loyalists from the Razuvayev era) and the established elite, with the former holding most of the authority. The latter group, meanwhile, while still comprising a significant portion of the CPSU Politburo's membership (which is elected by the legislative body of the Party Central Committee at large), has been more-or-less completely forced out of the Presidium and the Council of Ministers through the Chairman's control of its appointments and thus lost almost all of its real deciding power.
Only the Military, which is - unlike in many Western nations - a body with considerable Political influence and high levels of autonomy, has been largely free from the changes. Liú Qí's control of the GRU and KGB has allowed Sorokin to eliminate the most problematic leading officers,