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The Government of the Soviet Union (Russian: Прави́тельство СССР, tr. Pravítelstvo SSSR, IPA: [prɐˈvʲitʲɪlʲstvə ɛs ɛs ɛs ˈɛr]), formally the All-Union Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, commonly abbreviated to Soviet Government, was the executive and administrative organ of state in the former Soviet Union. It had four different names throughout its existence; Council of People's Commissars (1923–1946), Council of Ministers (1946–1991), Cabinet of Ministers (January – August 1991) and Committee on the Operational Management of the National Economy (August–December 1991). It also was known as Workers-Peasants Government of the Soviet Union during the Stalin era.
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The government was led by a chairman, most commonly referred to as "premier" by outside observers. The chairman was nominated by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and elected by delegates at the first plenary session of a newly elected Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. Certain governments, such as Ryzhkov's second government, had more than 100 government ministers, serving as first deputy premiers, deputy premiers, government ministers or heads of state committees/commissions; they were chosen by the premier and confirmed by the Supreme Soviet. The Government of the Soviet Union exercised its executive powers in conformity with the constitution of the Soviet Union and legislation enacted by the Supreme Soviet. The first government was led by Vladimir Lenin, and the last government was led by Valentin Pavlov.
Following the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR of 1922, the Russian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR and the Transcaucasian SSR established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The treaty established the government, which was later legitimised by the adoption of the first Soviet constitution in 1924. The 1924 constitution made the government responsible to the Congress of Soviets of the Soviet Union. In 1936, the state system was reformed with the enactment of a new constitution. It abolished the Congress of Soviets and established the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union in its place. At the 1st Plenary Session of the II Supreme Soviet in 1946, the government was renamed Council of Ministers. Minor changes were introduced with the enactment of the 1977 constitution. The CPSU's 19th All-Union Conference voted in favor of amending the constitution. It allowed for multi-candidate elections, established the Congress of People's Deputies and weakened the party's control over the Supreme Soviet. Later, on 20 March 1991, the Supreme Soviet on Mikhail Gorbachev's suggestion amended the constitution to establish a semi-presidential system, essentially a fusion of the American and French styles of government. The Council of Ministers was abolished and replaced by a Cabinet of Ministers that was responsible to the President of the Soviet Union. The head of the Cabinet of Ministers was the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union. The government was forced to resign in the aftermath of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, which Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov participated in. In its place, the Soviet state established what was supposed to be a transitory committee headed by Silayev to run the basic governmental functions until a new cabinet was appointed. On 26 December 1991, the Supreme Soviet dissolved the union and therefore, the government of the USSR shut down permanently.
This article mainly deals with the governmental structure that was established in 1922 and lasted until 1991, when the Council of Ministers was abolished and replaced by the Cabinet of Ministers.