Liquor Tax Rebellion

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Liquor Tax Rebellion


(Trezvennoe Dvizhenie; literally, Temperance Movement), a mass protest movement of the tax-paying population of Russia in 1858 and 1859 against tax farming; the movement was sparked by an increase in indirect taxes on vodka. The leading participants in the rebellion were state peasants. They were joined by pomeshchich’i krest’iane (peasants belonging to noble landlords), appanage peasants, retired soldiers, and the urban poor.

The rebellion started in August 1858 with the founding of temperance societies in Vil’na and Kovno provinces. By the summer of 1859 similar societies had sprung up in 32 provinces of Russia, mainly in the northwestern and central parts of the country and in the Volga Region. Peasant assemblies passed resolutions prohibiting the consumption of spirits; violators were subject to fines and corporal punishment. In May 1859 the peasants resorted to mass destruction of taverns. The disturbances spread to 15 provinces of the Middle and Lower Volga regions, the Ural Region, and central Russia. Troops had to be called in to suppress the rebellion. For their participation in the movement, 780 “instigators” were brought before military tribunals, punished by beating with rods, and exiled to Siberia.

The Liquor Tax Rebellion was a spontaneous protest not only against the tax farmers and the responsible government agencies but also against the system of serfdom. As a result of the rebellion, tax farming was abolished by an ukase of Oct. 26,1860, that took effect in 1863. A. I. Herzen gave extensive coverage to the protest movement in the newspaper Kolokol and its supplement Pod sud!


Fedorov, V. A. “Krest’ianskoe trezvennoe dvizhenie 1858–1859 gg.” In Revoliutsionnaia situatsiia v Rossii v 1859–1861 gg. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.