Union of Zemstvo Constitutionalists

Union of Zemstvo Constitutionalists

 

an illegal political organization of liberal pomeshchiki (landlords) in Russia. Organized at the first congress, held Nov. 8–9, 1903, the union had no clear-cut organization; congresses were held periodically by members of zemstvos (district and provincial assemblies) who supported a constitution. Neither did the union have a clear-cut platform. It was intended to organize Constitutionalists in preparation for M-zemstvo congresses. The union’s second congress, convened Feb. 23, 1904, issued the appeal “To Russian Society,” in which it supported the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05 and asked the tsar for “popular representation with organic unity between the tsar and the people.” The third congress, held Nov. 2–4, 1904, was convened to mobilize Constitutionalist forces in preparation for the all-zemstvo congress of November 6–9.

The union’s subsequent congresses were strongly influenced by the ongoing Revolution of 1905–07. The fourth congress, convened Feb. 24, 1905, presented the tsar with a request that A. G. Bulygin’s commission include representatives sensitive to public opinion. The congress also advocated direct universal suffrage and proposed legislation requiring that some portions of land be transferred from pomeshchiki to peasants with little land, and that the leasing terms become more equitable. The fifth congress, convened July 9–10, 1905, adopted a decision to create the Constitutional Democratic Party and elected a commission that, together with the commission of the Union of Liberation, formed the organizational committee of the Constitutional Democratic Party. The Union of Zemstvo Constitutionalists was later disbanded. The union’s right wing became the nucleus of the Union of October 17.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Index Volume, part 1, p. 649.)
Chermenskii, E. D. Burzhuaziici i isarizm, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.

K. F. SHATSILLO

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