No. 489.
Mr. Schuyler to Mr. Fish.

No. 74.]

Sir: The Podgaritza affair, in which last autumn several Montenegrins were massacred by the Turks, is causing here considerable excitement.

The Russian government * * * * is acting in cooperation with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Within a day or two the French ambassador has presented a declaration from his government that France will also act collectively with these three powers.

I inclose to you copies and translation of an article from the “Journal of SS. Petersburg,” * * * * * by which you will see what a strong position the Russian government is taking up against Turkey. Special attention was called to this article by the fact that it appeared the day after a holiday in an extra bulletin, in which it is usual to print nothing but telegrams, and was subsequently published again in the ordinary issue.

On the occasion of the blessing of the waters, the Emperor did not give his hand to the Turkish ambassador, Kiamil Pasha, and said to him, “If the Porte does not become more reasonable the consequences will be very disastrous for it.” (Si la Porte ne dement pas plus raisonnable les consequences pour elle seront funestes.) * * * *

The grand vizier appears to be very obstinate in the matter, and a question has arisen which might better have been allowed to sleep. The Porte refuses to punish the Turks who took part in the massacre unless the Montenegrins, who killed some Turkish soldiers, are also tried. The prince of Montenegro agrees to this, and is willing to try them by a mixed commission, but only on Montenegrian soil. The Porte, however, insists on these men being sent for trial before Turkish judges.

Turkey does not recognize Montenegro as an independent state, although for a long time it has been independent in fact, and has been so recognized by Russia. The pretensions, therefore, to sovereignty over Montenegro, which are now put forward, may still more excite the warlike population of that country. Even at present, according to telegrams [Page 1036] received here, the prince, who has acted throughout with moderation, has the greatest difficulty in restraining his subjects, and says that unless the matter is speedily settled he can no longer be responsible for them.

There seems to be no question here among diplomats that the Porte will yield in the end, but it is greatly to be feared that the matter may be protracted too long. The excursion of an armed band from Montenegro, or even any violent act of a single shepherd, who may have concealed a dagger, on the Turkish side of the border, would perhaps cause a general war in the east of Europe.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 74.—Translation.]

The Montenegro affair.

[From the “Journal of St. Petersburg.”]

Yesterday we published in our last number in terms of the “Havas agency,” a correspondence from Constantinople, January 11, the tenor of which is as follows:

“The commission appointed to institute an inquiry into the massacre of Podgoritza has given its verdict. It has discovered that the murder of an eminent Mussulman was the origin of the massacre. Five Turks have been condemned to death, three of whom are not now in custody. Twenty others are condemned to penal servitude for terms varying from five to fifteen years. The Porte insists that before the execution of the sentence the Montenegrins, who in retaliation killed three Turkish soldiers, be brought to trial.

“The prince of Montenegro declares that it is impossible to permit these Montenegrins to be tried out of his territory. It is believed that the difficulty will be removed by the formation at Cettigne of a mixed commission.”

This correspondence contains such serious inaccuracies that we believe ourselves in duty bound to re-establish the truth of the facts.

1. The eminent Mussulman, Goussouf Montchine, whose murder brought about the massacre of Podgoritza, was engaged in commerce, but he had had an administrative employment at Medoun, a little town in the Turkish territory of Koutcha, where he had taken into his service Pero Koutch, a Turkish Christian, and a native of Medoun.

The murder was committed on the 7 (19) October, which was a market-day.

The assassin was this same Pero, who had for his late master some ill feeling, the cause of which has not been sufficiently stated. It was evidently a matter of personal revenge.

The servants of Goussouf Montchine threw themselves upon the murderer and killed him on the spot. Not content with this act of summary justice, under pretext that the criminal was a Christian, they stirred up the crowd and sought out all over the town the Montenegrins who had come there on commercial business. According to custom these unfortunate persons had been obliged to give up their arms on entering the town. It was therefore against disarmed individuals that this fanatical crowd launched itself. Eight Montenegrins were massacred in the town. The assassins then proceeded from there to the valley of Zeta, which leads to the Montenegro. They there killed seven more inhabitants, and wounded a woman who tried to protect her son against their blows.

It is to be observed, moreover, that the authorities as well as the Turkish troops, who were witnesses of these odious acts, did absolutely nothing to prevent them.

These are the facts established by the consular reports, and even by the inquiry of the Turkish commission of Scutari.

It is consequently false that the murder which provoked these massacres was committed by the Montenegrins as is stated, by the Havas Agency. If a fresh proof were wanting that the assassin was a Turkish subject, it would be found in the fact that a part of the town of Medoun, his native place, has been pillaged by the exasperated Mussulman populace, and all the relations of the criminal have had to take to flight.

2. As to the Montenegrins accused of having, in retaliation, fired from their side upon the Turkish soldiers, three of whom were killed, the affirmation of the Havas Agency is equally at variance with the truth.

Here are the facts: Two Montenegrins, who both arrived on that day for the market, [Page 1037] hearing the cries and the discharge of fire-arms, sought shelter in a Turkish military station, the soldiers of which themselves invited them to enter, after having obliged them to lay down their arms.

However, the troop of Turkish assassins, having become aware of their presence, invaded the station and threw themselves upon these two disarmed victims. The Turkish soldiers stood by unmoved at this aggression. One of the Montenegrins was killed on the spot. The other, although wounded, succeeded in escaping, pursued by the murderous band which the soldiers had now joined. He was able to reach the frontier of the Piperi, which was near. These, seeing one of their number wounded and pursued, fired some shots in his defense, and succeeded in saving him. It was under these circumstances that two Turkish soldiers were attacked.