Mr. Peirce to Mr. Olney.
St. Petersburg, October 16, 1895. (Received Oct. 31.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith copy and translation of Mr. Chichkine’s note of October 15 in reply to mine of October 10 regarding Anton Yablkowski, as well as its inclosure giving the text [Page 1104] of article 325 of the Penal Code. I also inclose copy of my reply of this date. I note that the law states that the return to the Empire, after change of allegiance, is punishable with deportation to Siberia, while the penalty of change of allegiance is deprivation of civil rights and banishment.
I have taken the ground that the visé of the consul gave permission to enter the Empire as an American citizen, and that therefore he could not be punished for that offense, and that he should not be prosecuted and punished for the political offense of change of allegiance, his citizenship of the United States having been recognized and indorsed by the visé of the consul, who was evidently competent for that purpose, and permission, unqualified by special conditions, was thereby given to enter the country, notwithstanding any former political status, if, indeed, the consul, as agent of his Government, did not thereby give his consent to the change of allegiance.
I have declined to admit that the ignorance of the consul regarding the special facts alters the situation, and have intimated that this was the fault of the system of administration, for which the United States Government was not responsible, stating that a few questions of the same character used by Russian consuls to disclose the race of applicants could easily disclose previous allegiance.
I would point out to you that the case of John Ginzberg, who we were before told was held as a deserter from military service, is now based upon an infraction of this same article 325 of the Penal Code. In his case, however, there was no visé of passport.
Lately there has been at the legation a Mr. Borowday, an American citizen, who was formerly a Russian subject, but who has now lived in the United States for some twenty years. He became a naturalized American without seeking the consent of the Imperial Government, and has recently come to Russia to engage in the practice of his profession, that of electrical engineer. He seemed himself to be aware of the fact that his position was likely to give him some trouble, but had believed that the law governing such cases was no longer enforced. He was strongly advised at the legation to leave the country until he could obtain the consent of the Imperial Government to his change of citizenship. There seemed to be considerable doubt as to whether he would follow this counsel, and the legation is not informed whether he is still in Russia or not.
I have, etc.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.