Usually used as shorthand for Soviet Union. Shorthand is a very useful thing, whether in the syllable-conservation mode of discourse, or in Everything noding. Soviets were actually the lowest level of governance in that far-flung union of socialist&republics; I guess the translation would be something akin to "local council", government on a town-meeting scale. There were "worker's soviets", i.e. organization at the farm/factory level. Great "small is beautiful" democracy. On paper.

Another possible translation from the Russian is "advice, tip". There is a play on these words, too: Strana Sovetov (Soviet Country) - Country of Advices.

Another use of the word is now obsolete: accord; harmony. Which clearly did not work in case of Soviet Country as a state.

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