Mr. Breckinridge to Mr. Olney.

No. 133.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 116, of July 24, in regard to the refusal of the Russian consul at New York to visé the passports of American citizens of Jewish descent, I now have to inclose copy and translation of a note dated August 12/24, from Prince Lobanow, in response to my request for a copy of the laws and regulations bearing upon the administration of foreign Jews.

I also inclose copy and translation of the laws in question.

I have, etc.,

Clifton R. Breckinridge.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 133.—Translation.]

Prince Lobanow to Mr. Breckinridge.

Mr. Minister: Answering the request which you have had the goodness to express in your note of July 8/20 last, I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a translation, made from the most recent authentic texts, of the Russian laws governing the conditions of entrance and establishment of foreign Israelites upon the territory of the Empire.

Since you have had the goodness to refer to it, and in conformity with what I have had the honor to explain to you in my preceding note, the Russian law places certain restrictions on the entrance of Israelites in question on our territory; but these restrictions are far from implying an absolute interdiction, and they have their source in considerations of a kind essentially administrative and economic.

The Imperial Government, having already many millions of Jewish subjects, only admits their congeners of foreign allegiance when they seem to present a guaranty that they will not be a charge and a parasitic element in the State, but will be able, on the contrary, to be useful to the internal development of the country. It is because he had it [Page 1069] in view to protect himself from an influx of a proletariat of this nature that the Russian legislator has established clearly the categories of Israelites of whom the entrance on our territory can be admitted.

Receive, Mr. Minister, etc.,

[Inclosure 2 in No. 133.—Translation.]

Provisions of the Russian law relative to the entry of foreign Israelites and their establishment on the territory of the Empire, as also their admission to Russian subjection.

Foreign Israelites, and especially those who are agents of important foreign commercial houses, are permitted to visit the manufacturing and commercial localities of Russia, known as such, and to reside there a certain length of time according to the circumstances of the case. It is the province of the ministry of the interior to authorize the requests presented to this end by the Israelites in question. But in the case of a banker or chief of a commercial house1 of known importance, the legations and consulates may, even without previous authorization from the ministry of the interior, issue and visé passports for them to enter Russia, according to the same regulations which apply to all foreigners who come upon Russian territory, but under the condition of informing the ministry of the interior of every passport granted or viséd for an Israelite of that category. (Art. 289, T. XIV of Res. of Laws, Edit, of 1890.)
Foreign Israelites are not permitted to establish themselves in Russia, nor to become Russian subjects.
Remark.—Exception to this rule is made in favor of Israelites native of Central Asia without distinction as to the subjection to which they belong. These Israelites, on presentation by them of a certificate of good conduct in due form, may receive from the ministry of the interior and from the respective governors-general authorization to become Russian subjects, being included in the rolls of the population of the frontier towns of the Province of Orenburg or of Turkestan, under the condition of their entering the merchant guilds, and being admitted to the enjoyment of the rights conferred on Jewish Russian subjects. (Art. 992, T. IX of Res. of Laws, Edit, of 1890.)
Among foreign Israelites there are permitted to establish themselves in a permanent manner in the regions where Israelites enjoy the right of permanent establishment, only the following categories:
  • First. Those whom the Government judge necessary to exercise the functions of rabbi.
  • Second. Physicians whom the Government can employ in the administration of war and the navy.
  • Third. Those who come to Russia for the purpose of founding factories and works, except brandy distilleries, and who furnish proof that they provide a capital for that purpose of at least 15,000 rubles. These Israelites on entering Russia must engage in writing to found these establishments within three years. In default of this engagement they will be expelled from the territory of the Empire. If this engagement has been fulfilled they may become Russian subjects on matriculating for this purpose according to law.
  • Fourth. Operatives whom the Jewish manufacturers bring to work in the factories. They are admitted on presentation, first, of their passports, second, of certificates of Russian legations or consulates containing statements of their condition, of their former occupation, of their trade, of the name of the person who brought them, and of the purpose for which they are destined. These operatives are admitted to live permanently in the regions where Jews have the right to establish themselves permanently, and can take oath for the purpose of being received into [Page 1070] Russian subjection after not less than five years of sojourn in the factories, after they have received from their patrons and from the local authority a certificate of good habits and industry. (Art. 290, T. XIV of Res. of Laws, Edit. 1890.)
Foreigners are authorized to take out patents for engaging in commerce (certificates of guilds) and trade, and to enjoy all the rights pertaining to the possession of these patents, on the same footing as persons born in the subjection of the Empire.
Remark.—With regard to Jewish foreign subjects, the following rules are established: It is permitted to foreign Jews coming to Russia, and who are favorably known for their social position and for the extent of their commercial business—and this each time in virtue of a special authorization granted on agreement to that effect between the ministers of finance, of the interior, and of foreign affairs—to engage in commerce in the Empire and to establish in it banking offices, on being furnished with a patent of commerce of the first guild for that purpose. It is permitted equally to these Israelites to establish factories, to acquire and hold or lease real estate, except land inhabited in the country, observing the provisions of the laws relative to civil conditions.

Those Israelites who come into Russia to buy Russian products and export them, may receive equally commercial patents of the first guild, after an agreement has been established to that effect, each time, between the ministers of finance, of the interior, and of foreign affairs. Foreign Israelites, especially those who are agents of important commercial houses, can visit the manufacturing and commercial localities known as such, in Russia, in virtue of the provisions prescribed in the regulation of passports (see above Par. I). (Art. 1001, T. IX of Res. of Laws, Edit, of 1890.)

  1. By virtue of an Imperial order dated March 14, 1891, the power of the legations and consulates to grant and visé, without previous authorization of the ministry of the interior, passports for entry into Russia to foreign Israelites of that category (namely, bankers and chiefs of important commercial houses) is extended equally to the vis6 of passports of brokers, representatives, clerks, and agents of houses of commerce above mentioned, when they are furnished with papers legally authorizing them, granted by the houses, and attesting their capacity. Within the terms of the same decree are recognized as important commercial houses the published and registered firms conforming to the local laws of the jurisdiction of the diplomatic or consular agents.