The Empire Must Die by Mikhail Zygar

The Empire Must Die by Mikhail Zygar

Author:Mikhail Zygar
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Published: 2017-11-01T04:00:00+00:00


By the time the Duma is dissolved, a new electoral law has not only been written, but also adopted by the government and the State Council. The text of the new law is penned by the civil servant Kryzhanovsky. To avoid any leaks to the press, Stolypin bans even ministers from having a hard copy. It is simply read out orally at a government meeting. There are no objections.

Two versions of the law are initially drafted. The more radical of them is nicknamed the “shameless law,” which Nicholas II prefers.

“The State Duma must be Russian in spirit,” states the text, which is published on 3 June. This means that other peoples and nationalities “should not be the arbiters of questions that are purely Russian.” This primarily concerns the Caucasus and Poland, whose representatives in the Duma are sharply reduced. Other regions “where the population is not sufficiently developed in terms of civil society” have no representatives in Duma at all (for example, Central Asia and Yakutia).

Most important of all are the changes to the proportions of representation. Henceforth, one Duma member is elected from two million peasants or sixteen thousand landowners. This means that, by default, two-thirds of the Duma is elected by the nobility and the wealthiest subjects.

For some sections of society, the date 3 June remains a symbol of state repression and disregard for the law for a long time to come. The opposition-minded part of society is one of them. The conservatives also are unhappy, but for a different reason. Whereas Stolypin wants to replace the disobedient Second Duma with a more servile one, the Union of the Russian People believes that the Duma should be abolished and the old order (before the manifesto of 17 October) restored. Dubrovin boasts that if the Union of the Russian People were to take part in the Duma elections, it would win every seat. However, it does not do so because it considers the Duma to be an unlawful institution: “I have no right to justify with my presence the existence of this assemblage that encroaches on the unlimited power of the Sovereign,” he explains.

To prove to Nicholas II that the Duma is unnecessary, Dubrovin arranges regular “pilgrimages” by ordinary Russian folk to see the tsar. One of these delegations, from Tsaritsyn (today’s Volgograd), is headed by the monk Iliodor, who is recommended by both the Union of the Russian People and Grigory Rasputin. Iliodor is invited to the Interior Ministry for an interview, where he preaches that the State Duma is dangerous and must be destroyed (in the case of the socialist Duma members, he means physically) and that the old dogma about the divine origin of imperial power must be adhered to. Even the tsar, says Iliodor, has no right to change this fundamental law. To Interior Ministry staff, Iliodor seems like an overzealous ragamuffin, and it is decided not to grant him an audience with Nicholas II. Stolypin orders him and his associates to leave the capital.


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