Example of a Soviet-era ukaz: the appointment of the Presidium of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, 1964.

In Imperial Russia, a ukase (/jˈkz, -ˈks/[1][2]) or ukaz (Russian: указ [ʊˈkas]) was a proclamation of the tsar, government,[3] or a religious leader (patriarch) that had the force of law. "Edict" and "decree" are adequate translations using the terminology and concepts of Roman law.

From the Russian term, the word ukase has entered the English language with the meaning of "any proclamation or decree; an order or regulation of a final or arbitrary nature".[2]


Prior to the 1917 October Revolution, the term applied in Russia to an edict or ordinance, legislative or administrative, having the force of law. A ukase proceeded either from the emperor or from the senate, which had the power of issuing such ordinances for the purpose of carrying out existing decrees. All such decrees were promulgated by the senate. A difference was drawn between the ukase signed by the emperor’s hand and his verbal ukase, or order, made upon a report submitted to him.[4]

After the Revolution, a government proclamation of wide meaning was called a "decree" (Russian: декрет, dekret); more specific proclamations were called ukaz. Both terms are usually translated as "decree".[citation needed]

Example of a modern ukaz: the ambassadorial appointment of Sergey Kislyak to the United States in 2008.

According to the Russian Federation's 1993 constitution, a Decree of the President of Russia is referred to as ukaz.

See also


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0.
  2. ^ a b OED staff 1989.
  3. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ukaz". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 564.


The dictionary definition of ukase at Wiktionary