The Union of the Russian People
Programme of the Union of the Russian People, 1905
The great manifesto of October 30 granted us civil freedom on the basis of inviolability of person, freedom of expression, conscience, meetings and unions. In spite of this Tsarist grace, under the cover of promised freedom, many of us in fact have joined the darkest slavery of a mysterious, unknown, naked and all-destructive force which arbitrarily determines our fate without any legal authority, issues its own "manifestos" and openly advocates a whole series of impractical demands, such as complete destruction of the Russian army and its replacement by militia subordinate to city administration, organisation of a social democratic republic, and so forth. The enemies of the Tsar and of the country, by means of deception, threats, and violence, cause strikes in factories and mills, stop trains, disrupt trade, inflict tremendous loss to the entire state, and deprive hundreds of thousands of poor people of work in order to force them into violence through hunger. Our children are deprived of the possibility of education, the sick are dying, not being able to obtain medicine.... The trouble has not stopped in spite of the fact that we have received freedom, the same "freedom" which everyone has demanded so ardently. God only knows how far this anarchy will lead. One thing, however, is certain: we are proceeding directly to the downfall and destruction of the Russian state. This is why we call upon all those honest Russian people, irrespective of their profession or status, who are loyal to the Tsar, the country, and traditional Russian principles, to unite in order to conduct an active struggle by every legal means against arbitrariness, violence, and other repulsive manifestations of the recently granted freedom.
The ultimate aim which this Union of the Russian People must seek is the introduction of a firm, durable, legal order, on the basis of the following foundations:
1. Unity and indivisibility of the Russian Empire and stability of the basic foundations of Russian statehood, because only firm Tsarist authority, based on a direct union between the Tsar and the people, or their elected representatives, can provide unconditional guarantees for a durable legal order in such a multi-national state as Russia.
2. Establishment of a State Duma with the right to report directly to the Sovereign, the right to address an inquiry to the ministers, the right to control the activity of the ministers, and the right to petition the Emperor that the former be dismissed and tried in the courts.
3. Co-ordination of the activity of ministers and establishment of their firm actual responsibility, similar to the responsibility of all other officials, for every irregularity connected with their service and for damages suffered by private individuals, including bringing them to the attention of the Procurator.
4. Allowing the election of Jews to the State Duma, not more than three persons, elected by the entire Jewish population of the Russian Empire to present in the Duma the special needs of the Jewish population. Such limitation is necessary because of the disruptive, anti-state activity of the united Jewish masses, their unceasing hatred of everything Russian, and the unscrupulousness which they so openly demonstrated during the recent revolutionary movement.
5. The realisation of freedom and inviolability granted by the Manifesto of October 30; that is, protection of individuals from the arbitrariness and violence of officials, of private individuals as well as of all sorts of societies, unions, and committees, both open and secret.
6. Establishment of a firm criminal responsibility of the press to protect the basic foundation of the state system, based on special legislation similar to that which exists in the countries of Western Europe.
7. Firm, severe, and actual protection of property rights of private individuals, of societies, and of the state.
The basis of our Union is brotherly love towards neighbours, and we therefore do not allow any of the arbitrariness, force, falsehoods, rumours, distortions and secret or similar means of struggle used by our enemies, by the Tsar's enemies or by enemies of the country.
The Statute of the Union of the Russian People
I. The Aim of the UnionI. The Union of the Russian People sets as its undeviating goal a durable unity of the Russian people of all classes and professions to work for the general good of our fatherland - a Russia united and indivisible.
2. The well being of the country should consist of a firm preservation of the Russian autocracy, orthodoxy, and nationality, and of the establishment of a State Duma, order, and legality.
3. Russian autocracy was created by national wisdom, sanctified by the Church, and justified by history. Our autocracy consists of unity between the Tsar and the people.
Note: Convinced that national well being consists of the unity between the Russian Tsar and the people, the Union acknowledges that the present ministerial bureaucratic system, which separates the pure soul of the Russian Tsar from the people, and which has appropriated a number of rights that truly belongs to the Russian autocratic power, has brought our country to grave troubles and should therefore be changed fundamentally. At the same time the Union firmly believes that a change of the existing order should be accomplished not through the introduction of certain restrictive institutions such as constitutional or constituent assemblies, but rather through convocation of a State Duma as an institution which would represent a direct tie between the autocratic will of the Tsar and the right of the people.
4. The Russian people are Orthodox people and therefore the Orthodox faith remains steadfastly the official religion of the Russian Empire. All subjects of the Empire, however, have the freedom of religious worship.
5. The Russian people, as the gatherer of Russian lands and the creator of the great might of the state, enjoys a preferential position in national life and in national administration.
Note: All institutions of the Russian state should be united and should constantly strive to maintain the greatness of Russia and the preferential rights of the Russian people that legally belong to them, so that the numerous minorities that inhabit our country would consider it their privilege to be a part of the Russian Empire and would not consider themselves oppressed.
Note: The Russian language is and should be the official language of the Russian Empire for all of its people.
6. The State Duma, the bulwark of autocracy, should not demand any limitations on the supreme authority of the Tsar. It should only inform him of the real needs of the people and of the state and help the Legislator to realise the necessary reforms.
7 The immediate activity of authorities should be directed towards the introduction of a firm order and legality guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, assembly, and unions, and the inviolability of the individual. There should be established a rule that would determine the limits of these freedoms in order to prevent the violation of the established system, the endangering of the rights of other individuals, and thus to protect freedom itself.
III. The Activity of the Union
8. The Union sets as its continuous aim active participation in elections, from among its midst, of members to the State Duma to realise the aims to which the Union subscribes.
Note: Problems which the Union believes should be dealt with as soon as possible by the State Duma have been listed in Appendix 1 of the present statute.
9. The Union intends to assume the responsibility of providing people with sound education, of developing among the people consciousness in the spirit of autocracy, and of spreading among them Christian foundations, thereby strengthening their patriotism and feelings of debt to the nation, society, and family.
Note: The proposed educational activity of the Union will be accomplished through the opening of a greater number of schools, through the preparation of readings, meetings, talks, distribution of appropriate books and pamphlets, and through the publication of newspapers and journals. The foundation of educational activity of Union schools are included in Appendix 2 of the present charter.
10. Within the limits of its possibilities, the Union intends to build churches and to open hospitals, shelters, industries, and similar useful buildings, and to aid in the founding of mutual banks and other industrial-protective unions.
11. The Union considers as its immutable obligation the extension, within its capabilities, of brotherly help to all of its members; that is, material and moral support.
12. The Union has the right to enter into relations with governmental and public institutions on matters that relate to the aims of the Union.
13. The Union has the right to appropriate in its own name, using legal means, immovable property and operate these as legally its own.
IV. The Organisation of the Union
14. Members of the Union can be only native Russians of both sexes, of all classes and professions, who are dedicated to the aims of the Union, who show an indication that they are firmly acquainted with the aims of the Union and who, when they join the Union, will promise not to enter into an association with a secret organisation or an organisation that pursues aims that are contrary to those of the Union.
15. All other persons can be accepted as members of the Union only by the decision of the General Meeting of the members of the Union.
Note: Jews cannot become members of the Union.
16. Members of the Union pay membership dues of fifty kopecks annually, and any payment above the indicated sum is considered a gift; the name of a person making such a gift will be listed on a special list to be published twice a year indicating the amount given.
Note: Persons who cannot afford membership dues are freed from the payment.
17. Members of the Union who distinguish themselves by their useful work, either for the well-being of the nation or in executing the goals of the Union, as well as those who contribute appreciable gifts, will receive the title of Distinguished Members of the Union to be designated by the General Meeting of the members of the Union.
18. The Union is governed by a Council consisting of twelve members of the Union elected by a general meeting which also elects three candidate members of the Council. Candidates in turn replace absent members of the Council. Members of the Council elect from their members a Chairman of the Council of the Union and two Associate Chairmen. The Chairman is obliged to execute the decision of the Council and of the General Meeting.
19. The first membership of the Council of the Union is to be elected by the founding members from among their midst for a period of three years. Subsequently, at the expiration of three years, three members of the Council will be replaced annually by new members of the Council elected by the General Meeting. Retired members of the Council may be re-elected at the next General Meeting.
20. The Council of the Union is responsible for the organisation of provincial branches of the Union in guberniias, oblasts, cities, settlements, villages and hamlets. Members of the Council of the Union may delegate this activity to individual members of the Union.
Note: Members of the Union pledge not to assume any organisational activity without the decision of the Council of the Union, and have no right to act without such a decision in behalf of the Union.
21. Members of the Council elect from their midst a Secretary of the Council.
22. All matters in the Council of the Union are decided by a simple majority of votes. The Chairman of the Council, in case of a tie vote, casts the deciding vote.
23. Members of the Council elect from their membership a Secretary of the Council of the Union, and a Treasurer of the Union.
24. The Council of the Union has its own press, and the Chairman of the Council of the Union is responsible for it.
25. Upon joining the Union every member receives the insignia of the Union, which is uniform throughout the Russian Empire.
26. Members of the Union form a General Meeting which can be called by the Council twice a year or more if necessary. The General Meeting can also be called on demand of the members themselves if the number of those desiring a General Meeting is more than fifty members.
27. The Union may enter into relations with other Unions or societies if the latter's' aims do not contradict the aims and activities of the Union of the Russian People.
V. Resources of the Union
28. Resources of the Union Consist of membership dues and other contributions.
29. Monetary funds of the Union, upon the decision of the Council, deposited in either government or private banks.
30. Monetary funds of the Union are safe deposited to draw interest but can be converted into securities, guaranteed by the government, if Council deems it more useful.
31. Monetary funds of the Union are disposed of by the decision of Council; their withdrawal from the bank must be done only by a check bearing three signatures, including that of the Chairman or his deputy.
32. The decisions of the Council of the Union are considered binding the meeting of the Council is attended by not fewer than seven members
VI. The Accountability of the Union
33. The Council will present before every General Meeting an account of its revenues and expenditures, the finances of the Union, and will account for the activity of the Union and of individual members.
34. The General Meeting has the right to audit finances of the Union do so it selects an Auditing Commission consisting of three members of Union for every individual audit.
Appendix 1 (to Article 8 of the Statute) Of the problems that the State Duma should first consider, the Union lists among others: the peasant problem the improvement of living conditions of all the toiling classes, irrespective of their profession; the responsibility of all officials for illegal acts in the performance of their duties.
1. The Union believes that one of the most important national problems is to resolve whether the village commune among the peasants should retained or abolished. The Union, believing that the peasants themselves without any outside compulsion, express themselves on this issue, publicly states that it will not assume any initiative in resolving this problem; the peasants themselves resolve this problem, the Union considers its obligation to be to provide the peasants a peaceful atmosphere for an absolutely free solution of the communal organisation without any outside interference whether by institutions or individuals.
While limiting its support to advocating free expression by the peasant on the commune problem until its solution by the peasants themselves, the Union, to improve peasant conditions, considers that its immediate task is to advocate that poor peasants be given more land, or that such peasants be either resettled or permitted to transfer their land to other peasants by a freely reached bargain.
The Union also takes note of the extreme unproductiveness of Russian agriculture and suggests that a broad program of education be instituted to acquaint the Russian agricultural population with a more rational form of farming and to provide them with every needed assistance for a more rational increase of the productivity of the land.
2. The Union considers that its special obligation is to do everything possible to improve the condition of all the toiling classes regardless of their occupation; toward the workers the Union considers that its particular obligation is to declare that their difficult situation in many enterprises demands that relations between the workers and employers be regulated without delay by means of legislation, taking into account the location and the nature of the enterprise.
3. The Union believes that the existing system of accountability for responsible officials is one of the causes of the current difficult situation in Russia. Presently, all those who have suffered from abuses and illegal acts by responsible officials have no recourse against them in the courts to seek legal compensations for their losses from the guilty ones, and can only complain to administrators who, by virtue of the powers vested in them by the law, take note only of those cases which have endangered the interests of the Treasury. The impunity of present officials has given rise to an infinite abuse which can easily be stopped by repealing the appropriate articles of the law and by allowing every individual who has suffered the right to appeal freely and directly to the Procurator's Office and/or to the Court with his complaint against illegal acts of officials, and to demand compensation for the losses suffered as a result of official negligence. To prevent abuses of this system the law should severely punish those who accuse unjustly or report falsely.
Appendix 2 (to Article 8 of the Statute) The elementary school does not at all correspond either to the spirit or the needs of the Russian people. The Union sets as one of its main objectives the education of peasant, city, and working population on firm foundations and the development in them of political consciousness and principles of Christianity. Village schools should equip the peasant for the necessities of rural life, agriculture, crafts, and domestic industry.
Source: V. Ivanovich, ed. Rossiiskiia partii, soiuzy i ligi. St. Petersburg: 1906, pp. 117-122.