League of the Russian People

League of the Russian People

 

a mass Black Hundreds organization in Russia, founded in St. Petersburg in October 1905 to combat the revolution.

The League of the Russian People joined together reactionary representatives of the urban petite bourgeoisie and landowners, part of the intelligentsia and clergy, déclassé urban elements (for example, in Odessa), part of the kulaks (especially in Volhynia, or Volyn’), and some politically unaware workers and peasants.

The founders of the League of the Russian People included A. I. Dubrovin (chairman of the Main Council), V. A. Gring-mut, and V. M. Purishkevich. Tsar Nicholas II was a patron of the league. The league’s first charter was approved in August 1906. Its principal programmatic features were the unity and indivisibility of Russia, the preservation of the autocracy, union between the autocracy and the people through a consultative body known as the Zemskii Sobor, great-power chauvinism, and anti-Semitism.

The League of the Russian People functioned under the authority of a central body, the Main Council, consisting of 12 members. It had many local organizations in the cities, urban-type settlements, and even the villages; between 1905 and 1907 it had as many as 900 local organizations, the largest in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, Novgorod, Saratov, Astrakhan, and the Pochaev Laura, a monastery in Volyn’ Province.

The league’s principal press organ was the newspaper Russkoe znamia (Russian Banner). Among provincial newspapers, Pochaevskii Listok (The Pochaev Leaflet) had the largest circulation. Members of the League of the Russian People also published their propaganda in Moskovskie vedomosti (Moscow Gazette), Grazhdanin (The Citizen), Kievlianin (The Kievan), and other newspapers and journals. The league’s assemblies, meetings, lectures, mass prayers, and demonstrations provoked pogroms of the Jews, especially in 1906 in Gomel’, Yalta, Bialystok, Odessa, Siedlce, and other cities; even members of the league took an active part in the pogroms.

In October 1906 in Kiev, the League of the Russian People took the lead in founding a Black Hundreds organization known as the United Russian People. Between 1908 and 1910 the League of the Russian People broke up into several organizations that bickered among themselves, such as the League of the Archangel Michael, the League of the Russian People, and the All-Russian Dubrovin League of the Russian People in St. Petersburg.

All Black Hundreds organizations were disbanded after the overthrow of the autocracy in February 1917.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. “Politicheskie partii v Rossii.” In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 21.
Lenin, V. I. “O chernosotenstve.” In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 24.
Chernovskii, A. A. Soiuz russkogo naroda: Po materialam Chrezvychainoi sledstvennoi komissii Vremennogo pravitel’stva, 1917. Moscow-Leningrad, 1929.

N. P. EROSHKIN

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