Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR

Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR

The Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR (Lithuanian: "Lietuvos TSR Aukščiausioji Taryba"), later Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuanian: "Lietuvos Respublikos Aukščiausioji Taryba") was the supreme soviet (main legislative institution) of the Lithuanian SSR, one of the Soviet republics compromising the Soviet Union. According to the constitution it was very similar to modern democratic parliaments: it had the power to create, amend and ratify the constitution and other laws and appoint officials in the Council of Ministers (the executive branch). However, in reality the Soviet had very little actual power and carried out orders given by the Communist Party of icon cite book |title=Lietuvos istorija 11–12 klasėms | first=Rūstis |last=Kamuntavičius |coauthors=Vaida Kamuntavičienė, Remigijus Civinskas, Kastytis Antanaitis |year=2001 |publisher=Vaga |location=Vilnius |isbn=5-415-01502-7 |pages=438]

The Supreme Soviet sessions lasted only several days twice a year and decisions were made unanimously and without much discussion. In between the session the Presidium acted on behalf of the Supreme Soviet. The representatives (180 in 1947 and increasing every election) to the Supreme Soviet were elected in general elections every four (since 1975 - every five) years, [lt icon cite encyclopedia | editor=Jonas Zinkus, et. al | encyclopedia=Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija | title=Aukščiausioji Taryba | year=1985 | publisher=Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija | volume=I | location=Vilnius, Lithuania | pages=132-133] but all candidates had to be pre-approved the Communist Party, which did not allow any members of the opposition to run. The first elections were held in 1947 and according to official statistics voter turnout reached 97.91%. Other elections, except for the one in February 1990, were similarly staged.

Declaration of independence

The Soviet became important political battleground when in late 1980s Lithuanians sought independence or at least autonomy from the Soviet Union. The only legal way to accomplish that was to have the Supreme Soviet declare independence. In February 1990 elections, when for the first time candidates from the opposition were allowed to run, pro-independence Sąjūdis won 96 seats out of 141. [cite web | url= |title=Supreme Council (Reconstituent Seimas) 1990-1992 |date=1999-12-07 | publisher=Seimas |accessdate=2008-02-23] During its first session on March 11 1990 the Soviet elected Vytautas Landsbergis as the chairman and declared Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. The same day the Soviet changed its name to "Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania". It is also known as Supreme Council - Reconstituent Seimas ("Aukščiausioji Taryba - Atkuriamasis Seimas"). The council held it last session on November 11 1992. It was succeeded by democratically elected Seimas.

Presidium of the Supreme Soviet

Presidium was the permanent body of the Supreme Soviet. Its chairman "de jure" was the head of state. The presidium (chairman, two vice-chairmen, secretary, and 13 other members) was elected on the first session of the icon cite encyclopedia | editor=Jonas Zinkus, et. al | encyclopedia=Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija | title=Aukščiausiosios Tarybos Presidiumas | year=1985 | publisher=Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija | volume=I | location=Vilnius, Lithuania | pages=133] Formally it had great power while the Supreme Soviet was not in session. For example, it could ratify international treaties or amend laws. However, in reality it was a rubber stamp institution for the Communist Party of Lithuania and "de facto" head of state was the First Secretary of the Communist Party.

The chairmen of the Presidium were:lt icon cite book | last=Skirius | first=Juozas | title=Gimtoji istorija. Nuo 7 iki 12 klasės | url= | accessdate=2008-02-23 | year=2002 | publisher=Elektroninės leidybos namai | location=Vilnius | isbn=9986-9216-9-4 | chapter=Sovietinės Lietuvos valdžios aparato kūrimas | chapterurl=]
* Justas Paleckis from August 25 1940 to April 14 1967 (in exile 1941-1944)
* Motiejus Šumauskas from April 14 1967 to December 24 1975
* Antanas Barkauskas from December 24 1975 to November 18 1985
* Ringaudas Songaila from November 18 1985 to December 7 1987
* Vytautas Astrauskas from December 7 1987 to January 15 1990
* Algirdas Brazauskas from January 15 1990 to March 11 1990


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