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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Zemstvo \Zem"stvo\, n. [Russ., fr. zemlya land.] In Russia, an elective local district and provincial administrative assembly. Originally it was composed of representatives elected by the peasantry, the householders of the towns, and the landed proprietors. In the reign of Alexander III. the power of the noble landowners was increased, the peasants allowed only to elect candidates from whom the governor of the province nominated the deputy, and all acts of the zemstvo subjected to the approval of the governor. Theoretically the zemstvo has large powers relating to taxation, education, public health, etc., but practically these powers are in most cases limited to the adjustment of the state taxation. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]