The nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра, IPA: [nəmʲɪnklɐˈturə]; 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 the Communist Party. Critics of Stalin, such as Milovan Đilas, critically defined them as a new class. Trotsky used the term caste rather than class, because he saw the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers' state, not a new class society. Later developments of Trotsky's theories, such as Tony Cliff's theory of state capitalism, did refer to the nomenklatura as a new class. Richard Pipes, an anti-communist writer, claimed that this 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.
The nomenklatura forming a de facto elite of public powers in the previous Eastern Bloc, may be compared to the western establishment holding or controlling both private and public powers (e.g., media, finance, trade, industry, state and institutions).