Imperial Manifesto on Duma reform

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The following is the full text of the Imperial Manifesto of June 3, 1907, issued by Tsar Nicholas II.


Imperial Manifesto of June 3, 1907


We proclaim to all Our faithful subjects:

Since the time of the dissolution of the first State Duma, the government has, in accord with Our orders and instructions, undertaken a consistent series of measures to bring peace to the country and establish a proper course for affairs of state.

The Second State Duma, which we convened, was called upon to facilitate, in accord with Our Sovereign will, the restoration of peace to Russia: first of all, by legislative work, without which it is impossible for the state to live or for its structure to be perfected; also, by reviewing the budget of revenues and expenditures, to ensure that the economic activities of the state are being conducted correctly; and finally, by rationally exercising the right of interrogating government officials, with a view to strengthening truth and justice everywhere.

These obligations, which We entrusted to elected deputies from the population, laid upon them a weighty responsibility and a holy duty to make use of their rights reasonably, working for the benefit and enhancement of the Russian state.

Such was Our thought and will in granting the population new foundations for the life of the state. To Our dismay, a substantial part of the membership of the Second State Duma did not justify our expectations. Many of those sent by the population did not undertake their work with a pure heart and with a desire to strengthen Russia and improve its institutions, but rather with a flagrant intention of increasing turmoil and encouraging the disintegration of the state.

The activity of these persons in the State Duma either did not under take any review at all of the sweeping measures Our government had developed, or it delayed discussing them or else it rejected them, not even hesitating to turn down laws which would punish the overt celebration of criminality or severely punish those who sow disorder in the armed forces. By refusing to discuss murders and violence, the State Duma failed to render moral support to the government in the matter of restoring order, and Russia, to her shame, continued to experience criminal sedition.

The State Duma's dilatory review of the state budget caused difficulty in the timely satisfaction of many pressing needs of the common people.

A significant part of the Duma perverted the right of interrogating the government into a means of struggle with the government and of arousing mistrust for it among wide segments of the population.

Finally there was accomplished a deed unheard of in the annals of history. The judicial authorities discovered that a whole section of the State Duma was involved in a conspiracy against the state and the authority of the tsar. When Our government demanded that the fifty-five members of the Duma who were accused of this crime be suspended, pending the outcome of the trial, and that the most seriously implicated of them be confined under custody, the State Duma did not immediately carry out this lawful demand of the authorities, which did not admit of any delay.

All of this moved Us to dissolve the Second State Duma by an ukaz to the Senate of June 3; the new Duma is to be convened on November 1 of this year.

But, trusting in Our people's love for the motherland and in its statesmanlike wisdom (gosudarstvennyi razum), We see the cause of the twofold failure in practice of the State Duma in the fact that this legislative institution was full of members who did not truly express the needs and desires of the people, and this was due to the novelty of the situation and to defects in the electoral law.

Hence, leaving in force all the rights given to Our subjects by the Manifesto of October 17, 1905, and by the fundamental laws, We have made a decision to change only the means by which the people's elected representatives are summoned to the State Duma, so that every part of the people can have its own chosen men in the Duma.

Since it was created to strengthen the Russian state, the State Duma should also be Russian in spirit. The other nationalities of which the population of Our realm is composed should have their spokesmen in the State Duma, but they should not and will not be there in such number as to give them the possibility of decisive influence on purely Russian questions. In those border areas of the state where the population has not attained an adequate level of citizenship, elections to the State duma must temporarily be brought to an end.

All these changes in the election system cannot be enacted through the ordinary legislative route, that is, through the very State Duma whose composition We have pronounced unsatisfactory. Only the authority that granted the first electoral law, the historical authority of the Russian tsar, is adequate to abolish that law and replace it with a new one.

The Lord God had entrusted Us with monarchical authority over Our people. It is before His throne that We shall give account for the fate of the Russian realm. From this realization We derive a firm resolve to carry through to the end the transformation of Russia which we have undertaken, and so grant to her a new electoral law, which We have ordered the Senate to promulgate.

We expect our faithful subjects to follow the path We have indicated and render unanimous and ardent service to the motherland, whose sons have in all times been a solid support to her strength, grandeur and glory.

Given at Peterhof on the 3rd day of June in the 1907th year since the birth of Christ and in the thirteenth year of our reign.

Notes[edit]

  • Translated by Daniel Field