« PreviousContinue »
provinces of the Empire; the equality the only consequent defender of the of political rights of all citizens, and so old régime. At the same time, the proon—these and numbers of similar vincial Press acquires a new imporquestions are discussed now with the tance every day, especially in Southern, greatest liberty in the daily Press, and South-Western, and South-Eastern Rusnobody conceals any longer his disgust sia. I have several of these papers of the reactionary régime which has before me, and cannot but admire the swayed Russia for the last thirty straightforward and well-informed way years.
in which they discuss all political quesOf course, censorship continues to tions. They reveal quite a new provinmake its victims. The review Laro cial Hfe. (Pravo) has already received two warn. It would be impossible to render in a ings, and of the two new dailies, one few words the depth and breadth of (Son of the Fatherland), which came out the agitation provoked in Russia by the under a new “populist” editorship, is Zemstvo Conference. To begin with, already suppressed for three months; "the Resolutions" were signed at once while the other (Our Life), which has by numbers of persons of high standSocial Democratic tendencies, has its ing in St. Petersburg society, who do sale in the streets forbidden. With all not belong to the Zemstvos. The same that, the Press, with a striking unan- is now done in the provinces, so that imity, support the Zemstvo resolutions, the memorandum of the Zemstyos bewithout naming them. Even the comes a sort of ultimatum-it cannot Novoye Vremya, which has always be called a petition-addressed by the vacillated between ultra-Conservative educated portion of the nation to the and Liberal opinions, according to the Emperor. In most provincial cities the direction of the wind in the upper return of the Zemstvo delegates is be spheres, is now Constitutionalist. As ing made the occasion of influential to the ultra-reactionary Prince Mes- meetings, at which the members of the chersky, owner of the Grazhdanin, he Provincial Assemblies (the District Ashas published some of the most out semblies will follow suit) send to St. spoken articles against the old régime Petersburg their approval of the reso-only to turn next day against those lutions; while numbers of landlords and who demand a Constitution. Since other influential persons in the prov1861, this gentleman's house has been inces seize this opportunity for adding the centre of a semi-Slavophile but their signatures to those of the Zemchiefly landlord and bureaucracy oppo- stvo delegates. sition to the reforms of Alexander the Wherever a few educated persons Second. Hold was adroitly taken in come together, nothing is spoken of but this centre of the two successive heirs the coming Constitution. Even the apto the throne, Nikolai Alexandrovitch palling war has been relegated to the and his brother, who became later on background, while the constitutional Alexander the Third, in order to secure, agitation takes every day some new through them, an overthrow of all the form. In the universities, both profesreforms made by their father. : Now, sors and students join it. The former the Grazhdanin reflects the unsettled sign the resolutions, while the latter condition of mind in the Winter Palace formulate similar resolutions, or orspheres. The Moscow Gazette is thus ganize street demonstrations to support
them. Such demonstrations have The “Memoirs" of Prince Meschersky contain extremely instructive data in this
taken place already at St. Petersburg, respect.
Moscow, and Kieff, and they surely will be joined by working men as soon as science, and by mere orders of the they spread southwards. And if they Administration." ... "(7) The princi
ple of an independent Justice, equal for are dispersed by force they will result
all, has been reduced to nought by the in bloodshed, of which none can fore
abolition of all guarantees of indepensee the end.
dence”; and the declaration enumerates Another important current in the the main by-laws by means of which movement was created by the celebra- this purpose was achieved. tions of the fortieth anniversary of the
And, finally, their last resolution exJudicial Law, which was promulgated
presses what every educated Russian on the 2nd of December 1864. Large
is thinking, while at the same time it meetings of lawyers (avocats), followed
contains a reply to the Tsar's manifesto by banquets, at which all professions
of April 1903. It runs as follows: of "intellectuals” were represented, including members of the magistracy I t appears from all the life of Rusand, occasionally, of the administration,
sia for the last forty years that it is have been held at St. Petersburg, Mos
absolutely hopeless to endeavor to in
troduce in our country the reign of cow, Saratoff, Minsk, Tomsk, and so
Right, so long as the arbitrary rule of on; and at all these meetings the pro
bureaucracy continues to exist, even gramme of the Zemstvos, reinforced by though all sorts of rights may be instrong resolutions requiring the repeal scribed in our code. of the exceptional state-of-siege law
Nothing short of a thorough reform in and condemning the whole régime
the fundamental laws of the State can under which Russia is now, was voted and transmitted to the Minister of the
secure the ends of justice and lawInterior. At Moscow the resolutions
such is the conclusion of the Moscow
lawyers. passed at the meeting of the lawyers were worded very strongly, as may be
Striking facts were produced at these seen from the following characteristic
meetings. Thus, the following figures
just published by The Messenger of Law abstracts:
will illustrate the lawlessness which "(1) The fundamental principles of prevails under Nicholas the Second in Right, expressed in the Judicial Law of all matters concerning political ofthe 2nd of December 1864, and which
fences. From 1894 till 1901, not one recognize only such a form of State
single political affair was brought belife, in which all the actions of all are submitted to law, equal for all, and
fore a court of justice or an examining applied by the Courts with no regard to magistrate. All inquests were dealt any outside influence, are incompatible with by police officers or functionarie with the principles of the bureaucratic of the Ministry of the Interior. As to lawlessness which endeavors to take the numbers of such cases, they are hold of every manifestation of life and
simply extravagant. Thus in 1903 no to submit it to its uncontrolled power."
fewer than 1988 political cases, concern. ... "(4) The principle of religious tolerance, proclaimed in this law, was
ing 5590 persons, were opened, in adbrought into non-existence by a series dition to all those which were pending. of by-laws and circulars, by means of In the same year, 1522 inquests, involvwhich large portions of the population ing 6450 persons, were terminated. Out were placed into special cs tegories, and
of this number 1583 persons were deprived of important per sonal, family and property rights—and this, not for
liberated, 45 were sent before courtscrimes of theirs, and net in virtue of
martial, and no fewer than 4867 persons legal sentences, but merely for the ex
were submitted to various penalties, inpression of the dictates of their con cluding imprisonment, inflicted by the
Administration, without the interference At St. Petersburg the fortieth anniof any magistrate. Out of these, no versary of the Judicial Law was celefewer than 1502 were sent into exile, for brated by nearly 700 persons-lawyers, terms up to ten years, to various re- literary people, and so on-and their mote provinces of Russia and Siberia! resolutions were equally outspoken. Nothing on this scale was done even
The martyrology of the Judicial Law under Alexander the Third, the cor
[they said] is a striking illustration of responding figure for the last year of
the fact that under the autocratic and his reign being only 55 (in 1894).
bureaucratic régime wbich prevails in The Judicial Law of 1864 contained Russia the most elementary conditions certain guarantees against the ar- of a regular civil life cannot be rebitrary action of the police. But, as
alized, and partial reforms of the pres
ent structure of the State would not has been indicated during the last few
attain their aim. days, already in 1870 and 1875 the preliminary inquest was taken out of The Assembly confirmed therefore the hands of independent examining the resolutions of the Zemstvo repre. magistrates and was handed to the or sentatives, only wording the chief ones dinary police and the State police of- still more definitely, in the following ficers. No fewer than seven hundred
terms; by-laws have been issued since 1864 for
3. That all laws be made and taxes tearing the Judicial Law to pieces
established only with the participation limiting the rights of the courts, abol
and the consent of representatives,
and the ishing trial by jury in numerous cases, freely elected by all the nation. and so on; so that-to use the expres- 4. That the responsibility of the sion of the Saratoff lawyers' meeting, Ministers before the Assembly of Rep "all the principles of the law of Alex
resentatives of the nation should be
introduced, in order to guarantee the ander the Second have been annihi
legality of the actions and the orders lated. This law exists only in name.”
of the Administration. At the same time the exceptional laws promulgated during the last two For this purpose, and in view of the reigns have given to every police of- extremely difficult conditions in which ficer, in every province of the Empire, the country is now involved, the Asthe right to arrest every Russian sub- sembly demanded the immediate conject without warrant, and to keep him vocation “of a Constituent Assembly, imprisoned as a suspect for seven days freely elected by the people," and "a --and much longer under various other complete and unconditional amnesty pretexts—without incurring any re- for all political and religious offences,” sponsibility. More than that. It was as well as measures guaranteeing the publicly vouched at one of the lawyers' freedom and the possibility of responsimeetings that when arrests were made ble elections, and also the inviolability en masse, simple policemen received in of the representatives of the people. advance printed and signed warrants This declaration was signed by 673 of arrest and searching, on which they persons, and sent to the Minister of the have only to inscribe the names of Interior. the persons whom they choose to ar- The anniversary meetings of the rest! Let me add that all these resolu- Judicial La v being over, the agitation tions and comments have been printed has already taken a new form. It is in full, in both the provincial and the the municipalities, beginning with Moscow papers, and that the figures Moscow and St. Petersburg, which now are those of official reports.
pass the same resolutions. They ask for the abolition of the exceptional supported by private contributions, laws and for the convocation of a rep- have inaugurated a movement for deresentative Assembly, and they insist manding a release from the rigors of upon holding a general Conference of censorship. There is in Russia a sperepresentatives of all the Russian cial censorship for the libraries, and cities and towns, which would certain even out of those books which have ly express the same desires.
been published in Russia with the conIt is evident that the reactionary sent of the censorship many works, party is also at work, and a meeting chiefly historical and political, are not of reactionists took place at the house permitted to be kept in the circulating of Pobiedonostseff, in order to discuss libraries. The Smolensk public library how to put a stop to the constitutional has now petitioned the Minister of the movement. They will leave, of course, Interior asking for the abolition of not a stone unturned to influence the these restrictions, and this petition is Tsar in this direction, and, to begin sure to be followed by many others of with, they hit upon the idea of con- a similar kind, the more so as simply voking meetings of the nobility in dif- prohibitive restrictions are imposed ferent provinces. They expected that upon the village libraries, the public such meetings would vote against a lectures, and, in fact, in the whole Constitution. But, beginning with Mos- domain of popular education.: cow, they met with a complete fiasco; It will be noticed that in all the above the Moscow nobility adopted the same resolutions the form to be given to represolutions as the Zemstvos. More resentative government has not yet than that. A new movement was set been defined. Must Russia have two on foot, in the old capital, in the same Houses or one? Will she have seven or direction. A few days ago, at a meet- nine Parliaments (like Canada) and a ing of the Moscow Agricultural Society, Federal Senate? What extension is to be one of the members proposed a resolu- given to the federative principle? And tion demanding the abolition of the so on. All these matters have not yet exceptional state-of-siege law promul- been discussed in detail. It is only known gated in 1881. He met with some op- that some Zemstvo delegates, under position, but after brilliant speeches the presidency of M. Shipofi, are dishad been pronounced in support of the cussing these vital questions. Howresolution it was voted with only one ever, as the Zemstvos exist in thirtydissentient.
four provinces only, out of fifty, of EuOne may expect now that many other ropean Russia proper, and there are societies, economic and scientific, will besides Finland, Poland, the Caucasus, follow the example of the Moscow Siberia, Turkestan, and the Steppe agriculturists. In the meantime the Region, no scheme of representative public libraries, both municipal and government can be worked out without the consent of these units. This is why the organization of relief for the the idea of a Constituent Assembly is wounded, as well as for the families of gaining ground. All that can be said the Reservists. On both occasions the in the meantime is, that the Jacobinist authorization was refused and the ideas of the centralizers find but little meetings forbidden; but on both occasympathy in Russia, and that, on the sions the Zemstvo delegates held contrary, the prevailing idea is that of secret conferences at Moscow and disa federation, with full home rule for cussed their affairs in spite of the its component parts, of which Finnish menaces of Plehve (Shipoff went for home rule may be taken as a practical that into exile). And in both cases they illustration.
· Here is a resolution passed on the 9th of the library ; (3) the abolition of censorship; December by the Zadneprovsk public library (4) to permit educational societies to be at Smolensk, and published in the Russian opened after a mere notification. At the same papers :-“ After having heard the statement time the meeting has entrusted its committee of the committee concerning the difficulties to inform the Minister of the Interior of its standing in its way the meeting decided to deep conviction that the spreading of educaask from the Minister of Interior: (1) The tion in the country is quite impossible withabolition of the by-laws according to which
out the rights and the dignity of the indithe administration and the helpers of the vidual, and the liberty of conscience, speech, library have to receive the investiture of the the Press, the associations and meetings Government; (2) that all books allowed to being guaranteed." circulate in Russia be allowed to be kept in
concluded that the convocation of a Such are, then, up to the 18th of National Assembly had become an imDecember, the main facts of the con perative necessity. The present move stitutional agitation which is going on is thus a further development of several in Russia. And from all sides we hear former ones. It is the expression of a the same questions: "Is it really the long-felt need. end of autocracy that is coming? Is The necessity of a representative Russia going to pass from autocracy government for Russia was spoken of to representative government, without immediately after the death of Nicholas a revolution similar to that of 1789 to the First, and we are informed by 1793 in France? Is the present move- Prince Tatischeff (Alerander the Second ment deep enough to attain its goal? and his Times) that as early as in 1856 And, again, are the Tsar and his near- Alexander the Second had had a plan est advisers prepared to make the of a Constitution worked out. Hownecessary concessions, without being ever, precedence had to be given then compelled to do so by popular uprisings to the abolition of serfdom and the and internal commotions?”
terrible corporal punishments then in First of all, let it be well understood use (which meant a judicial reform); that there is nothing unforeseen in the besides, some sort of local self-governdemand of a Constitution, so unani- ment had first to be created. These mously expressed by the representa reforms filled up the years 1859-1866. tives of provincial self-government. But in the meantime the Polish revoluOver and over again, for the last forty tion broke out in 1863), and it was years, they have expressed the same then believed at the Russian Ministry desire, and it is for the third or fourth of Foreign Affairs that the uprising time that they now address similar de- was supported by promises of intervenmands to the Emperor. They did it tion given to its leaders by the Western in 1880-1881. They repeated it in 1894, Powers. as soon as Nicholas the Second came to This revolution had the worst imagthe throne, and again in 1902 in con- inable consequences for Russia. It nection with the Committees on the closed the reform period. Reaction set depression of agriculture. At the be in-the reaction which has lasted up ginning of this year, when the war to the present day, and which has cost broke out and the Zemstvos decided to Russia hecatombs of her best and most send their own field-hospitals to the devoted men and women. All schemes seat of war (these hospitals, by the of constitutional changes were aban. way, are described as the best in Man- doned, and we learn from the same churia), representatives of all the Zem author that the reason which Alexander stvos demanded the permission to meet the Second gave for this abandonment together, to agree upon joint action in was his fear for the integrity of the