[7 October 1977]
Excerpts from the text of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, relevant to issue of Karabakh, as adopted at the Seventh Session of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Ninth Convocation, on October 7, 1977
Article 5. Major matters of state shall be submitted to nationwide discussion and put to a popular vote (referendum).
Article 9. The principal direction in the development of the political system of Soviet society is the extension of socialist democracy, namely ever broader participation of citizens in managing the affairs of society and the state, continuous improvement of the machinery of state, heightening of the activity of public organizations, strengthening of the system of people’s control, consolidation of the legal foundations of the functioning of the state and of public life, greater openness and publicity, and constant responsiveness to public opinion.
Article 20. In accordance with the communist ideal – “The free development of each is the condition of the free development of all”- the state pursues the aim of giving citizens more and more real opportunities to apply their creative energies, abilities, and talents, and to develop their personalities in every way.
Article 34. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. are equal before the law, without distinction of origin, social or property status, race or nationality, sex, education, language, attitude to religion, type and nature of occupation, domicile, or other status. The equal rights of citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed in all fields of economic, political, social, and cultural life.
Article 36. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. of different races and nationalities have equal rights. Exercise of these rights is ensured by a policy of all-round development and drawing together of all the nations and nationalities of the U.S.S.R., by educating citizens in the spirit of Soviet patriotism and socialist internationalism, and by the possibility of using their native language and the languages of other peoples of the U.S.S.R. Any direct or indirect limitation of the rights of citizens or establishment of direct or indirect privileges on grounds of race or nationality, and any advocacy of racial or national exclusiveness, hostility or contempt, are punishable by law.
Article 40. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to work (that is, to guaranteed employment and pay in accordance with quantity and quality of their work, and not below the state-established minimum), including the right to chose their trade or profession, type of job and work in accordance with their inclinations, abilities, training and education, with due account of the needs of society. This right is ensured by the socialist economic system, steady growth of the productive forces, free vocational and professional training, improvement of skills, training in new trades or professions, and development of the system of vocational and professional training, improvement of skills, training in new trades or professions, and development of the systems of vocational guidance and job placement.
Article 42. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to health protection. This right is ensured by free, qualified medical care provided by state health institutions; by the development and improvement of safety and hygiene in industry; by carrying out broad prophylactic measures; by measures to improve the environment; by special care for the health of the rising generation, including prohibition of child labor, excluding the work done by children as part of the school curriculum; and by developing research to prevent and reduce the incidence of disease and ensure citizens a long and active life.
Article 46. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to health protection. The right is ensured by broad access to the cultural treasures of their own land and of the world that ape preserved in state and other public collections; by the development and fair distribution of cultural and educational institutions throughout the country; by developing television and radio broadcasting and the publishing of books, newspapers and periodicals, and by extending free library service; and by expanding cultural exchanges with other countries.
Article 47. Citizens of the U.S.S.R., in accordance with the aims of building communism, are guaranteed freedom of scientific, technical, and artistic work. This freedom is ensured by broadening scientific research, encouraging invention and innovation, and developing literature and the arts. The state provides the necessary material conditions for this and support for voluntary societies and unions of workers in the arts, organizes introduction of inventions and innovations in production and other spheres of activity. The rights of authors, inventors and innovators are protected by the state.
Article 48. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to take part in the management and administration of state and public affairs and in the discussion and adoption of laws and measures of All-Union and local significance. This right is ensured by the opportunity to vote and to be elected to Soviets of People’s Deputies and other elective state bodies, to take part in nationwide discussions and referendums, in people’s control, in the work of state bodies, public organizations, and local community groups, and in meetings at places of work or residence.
Article 49. Every citizen of the U.S.S.R. has the right to submit proposals to state bodies and public organizations for improving their activity, and to criticize shortcomings in their work. Officials are obliged, within established time-limits, to examine citizens’ proposals and requests, to requests, to reply to them, and to take appropriate action. Persecution for criticism is prohibited. Persons guilty of such persecution shall be called to account.
Article 50. In accordance with the interests of the people and in order to strengthen and develop the socialist system, citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly, meetings, street processions and demonstrations. Exercise of these political freedoms is ensured by putting public buildings, streets and squares at the disposal of the working people and their organizations, by broad dissemination of information, and by the opportunity to use press, television, and radio.
Article 54. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed inviolability of the person. No one may be arrested except by a court decision or on the warrant of a procurator.
Article 55. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed inviolability of the home. No one may, without lawful grounds, enter a home against the will of those residing in it.
Article 56. The privacy of citizens and of their correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications is protected by law.
Article 57. Respect for the individual and protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens are the duty of all state bodies, public organizations, and officials.
Article 58. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to lodge a complaint against the actions of officials, state bodies and public bodies. Complaints shall be examined according to the procedure and within the time-limit established by law. Actions by officials that contravene the law or exceed their powers, and infringe the rights, of citizens, may be appealed against in a court in the manner prescribed by law. Citizens of the U.S.S.R. have the right to compensation for damage resulting from unlawful actions by state organizations and public organizations, or by officials in the performance of their duties.
Article 64. It is the duty of every citizen of the U.S.S.R. to respect the national dignity of other citizens, and to strengthen friendship of the nations and nationalities of the multinational Soviet State.
Article 68. Concern for the preservation of historical monuments and other cultural values is a duty and obligation of citizens of the U.S.S.R.
Article 70. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is an integral, federal, multinational state formed on the principle of socialist federalism as a result of the free self-determination of nations and the voluntary association of equal Soviet Socialist Republics.
The U.S.S.R. embodies the state unity of the Soviet people and draws all its nations and nationalities together for the purpose of jointly building communism.
Article 72. Each Union Republics shall retain the right freely to secede from the U.S.S.R.
Article 73. The jurisdiction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as represented by its highest bodies of state authority and administration, shall cover:
- the admission of new republics to the U.S.S.R.; endorsement of the formation of new autonomous republics and autonomous regions within Union Republics;
- determination of the state boundaries of the U.S.S.R. and approval of changes in the boundaries between Union Republics;
- establishment of the general principles for the organization and functioning of republican and local bodies of state authority and administration;
- the insurance of a uniformity of legislative norms throughout the U.S.S.R. and establishment of the fundamentals of the legislation of the Union of Soviet Republics and Union Republics.
- pursuance of a uniform social and economic policy; direction of the country’s economy; determination of the mainlines of scientific and technological progress and the general measures for rational exploitation and conservation of natural resources; the drafting and approval of the state plans for the economic and social development of the U.S.S.R., and endorsement of reports on their fulfillment;
Article 77. Union Republics take part in decision-making in the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., the presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., the government of the U.S.S.R., and other bodies of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics in matters that come within the jurisdiction of the Soviet Socialist Republics.
A Union Republic shall ensure comprehensive economic and social development of its territory, facilitate exercise of the powers of the U.S.S.R. on its territory, and implement the decision of the highest bodies of state authority and administration of the U.S.S.R.
In matters that come within its jurisdiction, a Union Republic shall coordinate and control the activity of enterprises, institutions, and organizations subordinate to the Union.
Article 78. The territory of a Union Republic may not be altered without its consent. The boundaries between Union Republics may be altered by mutual agreement of the republics concerned, subject to ratification by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Article 82. An Autonomous Republic is a constituent part of a Union Republic.
In spheres not within the jurisdiction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Union Republic, an Autonomous Republic shall deal independently with matters within its jurisdiction.
An Autonomous Republic shall have its own Constitution conforming to the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. and the Union Republic with the specific features of the Autonomous Republic being taken into account.
Article 83. An Autonomous Republic takes part in decision-making through the highest bodies of state authority and administration of the U.S.S.R. and of the Union Republic respectively, in matters that come within the jurisdiction of the U.S.S.R. and the Union Republic.
An Autonomous Republic shall ensure comprehensive economic and social development on its territory, facilitate exercise of the powers of the U.S.S.R. and the Union Republic on its territory, and implement decision of the highest bodies of state authority and administration of the U.S.S.R. and the Union Republic.
In matters within its jurisdiction, an Autonomous Republic shall coordinate and control the activity enterprises, institutions, and organizations subordinate to the Union or the Union Republic.
Article 84. The territory of an Autonomous republic may not be altered without its consent.
Article 85. The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic includes the Bashkir, Buriat, Dagestan, Kabarda-Balkar, Karelian, Komi, Mari, Mordovian, Severnaia Osetiia, Tartar, Tuva, Udmurt, Chechen-Ingush, Chuvash, and Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
The Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Abkhazian and Adzhar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
Article 86. An Autonomous Region is a constituent part of a Union Republic or Territory. The law on an Autonomous Region, upon submission by the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the Autonomous Region concerned, shall be adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Union Republic.
Article 87. The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic includes the Adygei, Gorno-Altai, Jewish, Karachai-Cherkess, and Khakass Autonomous Regions.
The Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Iuzhnaia Osetiia Autonomous Region.
The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.
The Tadzhik Soviet Socialist Republic includes the Gorno-Badakhstan Autonomous Region.
Article 88. An Autonomous Area is a constituent part of a Territory or Region. The law on an Autonomous Area shall be adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Union Republic concerned.
The Karabagh File, Documents and Facts, 1918-1988, First Edition, Cambridge Toronto 1988, by the ZORYAN INSTITUTE, edited by: Gerard J. LIBARIDIAN, pp. 53-58.
Image – Shushi