The nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра, IPA: [nəmʲɪnklɐˈturə] (listen); from Latin: nomenclatura) were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy, running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region.
Virtually all members of the nomenklatura were members of a communist party. Critics of Stalin, such as Milovan Đilas, critically defined them as a "new class". The arch-critic of Stalin, Trotsky, used the term caste rather than class, because he saw the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers' state, not as a new-class society. Richard Pipes, an anti-communist Harvard historian, claimed that the nomenklatura system mainly reflected a continuation of the old Tsarist regime, as many former Tsarist officials or "careerists" joined the Bolshevik government during and after the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922.
The nomenklatura formed a de facto elite of public powers in the former Eastern Bloc; one may compare them to the western establishment holding or controlling both private and public powers (for example, in media, finance, trade, industry, the state and institutions).