In the autumn of 1935 the Central Executive Committee of the USSR created the Constitution Committee presided by I. V. Stalin, along with 12 sub-committees in order to develop a new version of the Constitution of the USSR which was to reflect the ideas about the victory of socialism in the Soviet Union.
12 June 1936 the draft of the Constitution was published and discussed for six months at all levels – from workers’ meetings at enterprises to republican congresses of Soviets. In the discussion took part more than half of the adult population of Russia, the Committee received 154, 000 proposals, amendments, additions. The editorial commission accepted 47 amendments and additions to more than 30 articles.
5 December 1936 the VIII Extraordinary Congress of Soviets adopted the new Constitution of the USSR.
The Constitution included 13 chapters with 146 articles. The document declared that the political basis of the USSR is Soviets of Workers’ Deputies to whom belongs the power in the country. The main body of state power in the USSR was now the Supreme Soviet of the USSR elected for 4 years; between its sessions the country was led by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. The government of the country, the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the USSR, was the supreme executive body subject to the Supreme Soviet and its Presidium.
There was introduced the principle of the universal, equal and direct suffrage with voting by secret ballot, the system of organization of the state power was democratized, the competence of each government body was defined more strictly. All citizens were granted equal rights for labor and rest, financial support in the old age and sickness, there was proclaimed the liberty of conscience, the freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and meetings.
The 1936 Constitution was very democratic for its time. However, the realization of the declared rights and freedoms was not supported by the effective legislation, while the politics of mass repressions pursued by the power absolutely contradicted the main national law.
7 October 1977, instead of the 1936 Constitution, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the third Constitution of the USSR (the “Brezhnev” one).
Lit.: Конституция СССР 1936 г. // Кукушкин Ю. С., Чистяков О. И. Очерк истории Советской конституции. М., 1987. Редакции Конституции СССР 1936 г. [Электронный ресурс] // Конституция Российской Федерации. 2003-2013.URL: http://constitution.garant.ru/DOC_5005.htm.
From the Presidential library materials: