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withdrawing from the meeting, the elder can break it up, whenever he thinks that the debates are taking an unlawful direction. Thus the elected elder, when once confirmed in his office, becomes for all practical purposes the master of the body which elected him. A strange sort of self-government, certainly, though by no means an exceptional one in an autocracy. The self-government granted to our provinces in 1864, and to our towns in 1871, is modelled exactly on the same pattern: in each the chairman has more power than the body he presides over, an arrangement which has, as is well known, deprived both provincial and municipal self-government of all vitality.
It is interesting to observe that in the villages the same trick produced no such effect. Here the legislature found within the masses an ancient habit of collective communal life and self-government which no ukaz could root out. True, in the last twenty years great corruption has appeared in the village selfgovernment also; but this has been due to the interior economical decomposition of the village commune itself, which has divided the village into two camps, the one of the rich, the other of the poor. The machinery of the law has evolved various anti-social elements, but it is not their direct cause. So long as the process of the economical disintegration of the peasantry is in its latent period, the bureaucratical prescriptions of the law remain a dead letter. The Mir keeps to the traditional forms of selfgovernment; the elders, who are imbued with these traditions, just as much as the other peasants, never think of making use of the strange powers given to them by the law; they remain in the subordinate and modest position assigned to them by the customary law; and they are the "Mir's men, to use the people's expression.
It has fared much worse with the other series of manipulations of rural self-government, which makes the natural supplement of those just spoken of. The village administration has to be subordinated to the whole of the administrative machine of the State. After having created in the midst of the formerly democratic villages a sort of tchin, it was necessary to find another
tchin to whom to subject the newly-created one. The Government, in the honeymoon of Liberalism, acted with some sense and discretion in trusting this function to the Mediators, officers appointed conjointly by the nomination of the Ministry and the election of the citizens. These Mediators, elected from among the Liberal and really well-intentioned part of the nobility, exercised their authority with moderation and wisdom, not so much for the control of the Mir, which was perfectly equal to its task, but to protect it from the abuses and malversations of the local police and administration. Since 1863, the year of the Polish insurrection, which marks the point at which the Government embraced reaction, the state of things has changed considerably. At that period the Government threw all the weight of its authority into the balance of the party of the "planters," as the obdurate defenders of the maintenance of serfdom were christened in 1861. The whole administration changed color, and since that time Russia has frequently seen Mediators who used their power for compelling the peasants to do gratuitously all sorts of work on their estates, who publicly flogged the elders, and who mocked the law which exempted them from corporal punishment, by degrading them before the flogging, and restoring them the attributes of their dignity when the flogging was over. The regular enslavement of the Mir began, however, a few years later. From 1868 up to 1874, when the office of the Mediators was entirely suppressed, the Mir gradually passed under the supreme command of the ispravniks, or superintendents of local police. The peasants' bitterest enemy could not have made a worse choice.
A police officer-we are speaking now of the common police, charged with the general maintenance of order and the hunting down of common offenders-is a tchin in the administrative hierarchy, like all the others; but between him and the paper-scribbling tchin of the numberless offices there is as much difference as between a decent, peaceful Chinese votary, who owns subjection to his ten thousand commandments, and a brutal and fierce Mogul of Jenghiz, though both have beardless faces and
oblique eyes. With the police tchin the instrument of command is not the pen, but the rod. As regards the people's property, the tchins of all denominations have the same somewhat strange ideas. But while the tchin of the bureau cheats and swindles, the police tchin practises wholesale robbery and violence like an Oriental pasha. In dealing with the moujiks of the villages, who will suffer to the utmost of their phenomenal patience before "going to law," the police can indulge in anything short of open homicide. The function of tax-collectors alone, entrusted to them after the emancipation, offered a vast field for that interference, abuse, and oppression, of which the early Zemstvos so often complain. When the ispravniks were charged with the control of the whole rural administration, and could at their pleasure indict, and fine or imprison, by way of disciplinary punishment, both the district and communal elders, the peasants' self-government as such was practically abolished, it could exist only as far, and in so much as the police chose to tolerate it."The ispravniks, thanks to the power they have received, have transformed the elected officers of the rural self-government (the elders) into their submissive servants, who are more dependent on them than even the soldiers of the police stations." The above is the statement of the most competent authorities on the subject, the members of the Zemstvos (Russian Courier, November 8th, 1884). The village communes soon became for the country police a source of permanent income, levied often in a way which reminds us forcibly of the good old times of serfdom. Thus, in the circular of the Minister of the Interior, of March 29th, 1880, we find the admission that, cording to the reports accumulated in the offices of the Ministry," the country police officers, profiting by their right of having one orderly to run their errands, were in the habit of taking from the communes under their command up to forty and fifty such orderlies, whom they used for their house and field labor. Sometimes the communes, instead of this tribute of gratuitous labor, paid a regular tribute of money (called "ob. rok" by former serfs), amounting in some provinces-according to the same
authority-to from 40,000 to 60,000 roubles per province.
A Mir which could be subject to such tyranny, which could have elders imposed upon it who were notorious thieves and swindlers, as was too often the case, such a Mir had only the shadow of selfgovernment. Yet the peasants had a refuge still in their homes. The ispravniks, and even the stanovois, were persons too great and too distant to interfere with the private affairs of the peasantry. But the time was at hand when the police intruded even into this last refuge.
When in the years 1875-6 the Nihilist rebellion burst forth, it assumed at first the aspect of a vast agrarian agitation in favor of the restitution of the land to its tillers. As the same aspirations, though obscured by the mist of monarchical superstitions, were smouldering among the whole of our agricultural class, the Government took alarm. Fierce Nihilist hunting began at once throughout all Russia. The peasants did not rise in arms at the voice of the agitators, perplexed and bewildered as they were by the unheard-of appeal to arms; but in the relentless chase after the Nihilists they kept aloof, and often assisted the propagandists to escape from the hands of their persecutors. The active part in the affair was played by the local officers of the State police, the stanovois and ispravniks, and the volunteer spies, belonging to the newly born class of rural usurers, plunderers of the people, and upstarts, who were only too ready to fish in troubled waters. But in a well-regulated autocracy nothing can be left to private initiative, least of all the spy's craft. As to the local agents of the State police they were overcharged with so many other duties, and had under their superintendence districts so vast as to render an effective and minute survey on their part impossible. In 1878 the rural constabulary was created and the Russian peasant's Babylonian captivity to the police began.
Functionaries called ooriadniks were instituted for strengthening the rural police, headed by the ispravniks and their assistants the stanovois. The ooriadniks are under the command of these officers, in their quality of agents of general police. But like the gendarmerie
created by the Emperor Nicolas I., for the benefit of the townspeople, the rural gendarmerie is placed in a peculiar position. The ooriadniks' duties are extensive and manifold. They may be called the masters of the village communes in the same sense as the governors are called the masters of their respective provinces. In addition to the functions of chiefs of the communal police, they unite in their persons those of sanitary inspectors, inspectors of roads and buildings, statistical agents, etc. They must needs interfere in everything, prying into private households, and enforcing various regulations which the active bureaucratical imagination has invented for the benefit of the moujik. Thus, they must see the peasant's house ventilated and the windows opened, even during the winter time when people have hardly fuel for keeping the hard frost outside the door. To maintain the purity of the air they must prevent the keeping of manure in open courts near the houses-while in the whole of Russia no peasant, save the few German colonists, has an artificial dung-pit. The same solicitude for the stupid moujik who cannot feel the disadvantage of keeping his cattle in his dwelling, inspired them to forbid that bad practice, though the young cattle would be frozen otherwise in the courts, as the peasants have no warm stables. Neither is the exterior of the village neglected, for the ooriadnik must see the street kept clean, though in the villages there is no trace of pavement, and the streets during the spring and the autumn, that is to say for six months in the year, are knee-deep in mud. There are many other equally benevolent but impracticable ordinances which show their utter disregard or ignorance of the conditions with which they have to deal. The more absurd the order is, the easier it is for an ooriadnik to convert it into a means of extortion and a source of abuse, owing to the monstrous powers with which he is armed in his capacity of political blood-hound.
Only a despotic government, fully conscious of its many sins, could, in a fit of well-grounded fear, put such powers into the hands of its inferior agents. They can enter at any time of the day or the night anybody's house, examine
everything, and question everybody as to any actions and intentions which they may consider suspicious. They have the right of taking into custody any citizen in the district at their own discretion, without obtaining any special warrant or authorization, while the elders and the communal police are bound to arrest and carry off the prisoners at the ooriadnik's bidding.
Now let us ask, What are the moral and intellectual guarantees offered by these people entrusted with powers so extensive over the liberty, the honor, and the property of their fellow-citizens? Whence is this horde of village proconsuls picked up? An ooriadnik receives a salary of £20 a year, which would represent £40 at the English value of money. We could not therefore expect to see among them well-educated people, even were the aversion of all decent people to enter the police force less than it is. Moreover, the considerable amount of physical exertion required from the ooriadnik excludes the petty tchinovnik as a rule. But as the ooriadnik's duties imply a considerable amount of judicial chicanery, they cannot be recruited at random among simple people, such as the retired soldiers or non-commissioned officers. As a matter of fact they are recruited chiefly from among the dregs of the officialdom of the towns and the outcasts of the intellectual professions, and are in some instances scribes out of employment, in others petty police officers turned out of their posts for bribery, drunkenness, or other offences. yet the Government of the Tsar exempted this rabble in a totally exceptional manner from any control whatsoever. The Russian press is not allowed, as it is well known, to indulge overmuch in exposing the abuses and misdeeds of any of the members of the official hierarchy. But to attack a gendarme, a political spy, or any officer connected with the self-defence of the Autocracy against its interior enemies, is considered almost as a personal insult to the Autocrat. The ooriadniks in their capacity of rural gendarmes were granted the same immunity; the press was strictly prohibited from publishing any exposure of their abuses. This fact, however strange it may seem, was pub
licly revealed three years later by several Russian papers.
In the Zemstro newspaper of December 31st, 1880, the following details were explicitly stated by the responsible editors : At the institution of the ooriad niks all possible care was taken to present them in the most favorable light to public opinion. To this end the Official Messenger, and the official papers existing in every province, published by the orders of the minister a number of reports of their activity, shaped sometimes in the form of epic narratives, sometimes in the form of statistical tables. While, on the other hand, soon after the law of June 9th, 1878 (instituting the ooriadniks), came into force, namely, in September of the same year, the editors of all the newspapers and periodicals were ordered not to allow in their respective papers any censure of the activity of the police, nor to discredit that body by exposing any of its abuses; in case of any transgression of this order the delinquents were threatened with the utmost rigor of the law. Thus the ooriadniks became quite inviolable persons for the press.
It may be added that the Government had to defend these its Benjamins, charged with protecting it against the agrarian revolution, even against their immediate chiefs, in hierarchical order, the stanovois and ispravniks. When the herd of these 5.754 brutal invaders, scattered in the villages, began their career, even the not particularly lawabiding gentlemen of the police felt that the Government had overshot the mark. Numbers of ooriadniks were turned out, or at least driven from one district to another, by way of disciplinary punishment. In order to suppress this fagrant proof of their worthlessness, the Ministry of the Interior, headed by General Makoff, expressed a significant disapprobation of their conduct to the police authorities whenever there had been frequent expulsions" as likely to diminish the prestige of the ooriadniks with the peasantry. No wonder that the ooriadniks became so full of their self-importance that in the Province of Poltava, when one of them was fined eleven roubles by the magistrate, he flew into such a passion as to inveigh against
the magistrate in court, and threaten him with a protocol."
We have dwelt on these details, at the risk of tiring our readers, because they prove to demonstration the fallacy of a very common prejudice concerning the Russian Government. It is supposed that the educated class only are subjected to police tyranny. This is not the case. Our Government is free from any taint of partiality. Whenever it scents some danger to its own skin, all its "dear children" are dealt with in exactly the same way.
The quite anomalous position created for these guardians of the public safety could have only one consequence. The ooriadniks have become the scourge of our villages, the terror of the peasants, and the perpetrators of violence and extortion unheard of before. Being perfect strangers to the village," says the Zemstro newspaper, they despise the peasantry, as all upstarts do. They look on the rustics subjected to their superintendence as invaders do on conquered people, in dealing with whom everything is allowable. The extortions of the ooriadniks can only be compared to military contributions in time of war. Not only are private individuals compelled to propitiate the ooriadniks with bribes, but whole communes are saddled with illegal tribute. And such things happen, not in the remote corners of our vast Empire, but in the neighborhood of St. Petersburg.' In view of these experiences, the Zemstvos have repeatedly petitioned for the abolition of the ooriadniks. In the sitting of 17th January, 1881, of the St. Petersburg Zemstvos, the deputies expressed their opinion in no measured terms. The magistrates Volsoff and Shakeef complained that the ooriadniks were simply a curse to the people, and that it was impossible to expect any good froin them, since they were recruited chiefly from almost illiterate clerks out of employment, who had no conception of their duty. Baron Korf said that he doubted whether, among those present, there was a man capable of speaking a word about the good done by the ooriadniks, while it would be easy to speak of the harm they had done until the following morning. In the short Liberal respite of 1881 there
was hardly one periodical-save the Moscow Gazette of M. Katkoff-which did not put before its readers a mass of accumulated facts concerning the exploits of the ooriadniks, which abounded in instances of every kind of malpractice, from petty personal annoyance to the most heinous offences.
We will open first a page in the administrative career of a certain Makoorine, ooriadnik of the Samora province, a jolly fellow, though somewhat excitable and rough when in his cups. One fine morning in the autumn of 1881 he arrived at the village of Vorony Kust, where it happened a meeting was being held in the Communal house. Here he met with various friends, and among them Chaibool the Rich, a Tartar peasant. Having some business transactions with the ooriadnik, Chaibool invited him, together with several mutual acquaintances, to take a drink at his house. The meeting over, they left the house in several cars; but in opening the gate of the house they let out a pig; the animal took it in its head to run after the ooriadnik, though Chaibool "tried several times to shout it back." They crossed the village and reached the fields, the pig still running after the ooriadnik's car with the evident intention of escorting him up to the house of his host. The rural administrator took this conduct as a malicious insult to his dignity on the part of the pig, and shot it dead. After being hospitably entertained by Chaibool the Rich they returned to the village a little elevated. Here they met with the publican, to whom the pig belonged, and who asked the ooriadnik to pay for the animal. At such audacity Makoorine lost his temper, and declared that he, the ooriadnik, had the right to shoot not only pigs but men too if he thought fit, in accordance with the law. A retired soldier, John Kirilow, who was present, observed that he had also served the Tsar, but never heard of such a law. Without any further argument the ooriadnik flew on Kirilow, knocked him down, dragged him into the court, and, calling to his assistance his coachman, beat him once more. This guard ian of public order was condemned to six weeks' imprisonment; but as it was discovered that there were pending against him no less than fifteen similar
suits he was put under police supervision pending the verdict on his cumulative offences. Again, the ooriadnik of Malo-Archangelsk arrived in the village in carnival time perfectly drunk, and, entering the Communal house, behaved with gross impropriety, not only using the most fearful language to the members, but cutting the tablecloth to shreds with his sabre. When some peasants tried to calm him, he flew on them, brandishing his sabre, and drove them one and all out of the house.
In Jvanovka the ooriadnik on entering the house of a peasant "in order to see that it was properly clean," observed in the kitchen a young calf tied to the leg of a table. At such slovenliness the ooriadnik lost his temper, and, after having reviled to the best of his ability the women who were spinning in the other room, drew his sabre and cut the calf to pieces.
In Poroobejka an ooriadnik came upon a woman making dough. She was in a hurry to make the bread for her family, and had left the floor unswept. Exasperated by this negligence, the ooriadnik, after giving the woman a severe scolding, overturned the kneaded dough before the woman's face and spilled it on the dirty floor.
In Dmitrovka the ooriadnik Lastochkin met a wedding procession going on its way singing, according to custom, from the house of one relative of the married couple to another. He ordered them to disperse at once, though the elder of the village was among them. One of the guests, Basily Kareff, remonstrated against such interference, explaining that they were celebrating a wedding. The ooriadnik in reply struck Kareff twice with his whip. Thereupon the crowd became excited, and, setting upon the ooriadnik, began to handle him roughly. He would have fared, perhaps, worse had he not taken refuge in the house of the parson. On hearing of the affair the whole village came together, clamoring that the ooriadnik should be delivered up to them. It was only through the soothing influence of the parson that the ooriadnik escaped lynching. A protocol was drawn up of the "insult suffered by the ooriadnik,' and Kareff was condemned to seven days' imprisonment.