Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Volume II
File No. 861.00/2634
The Consul at Vladivostok (Caldwell) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 4.]
Sir: I have the honor to enclose herewith copy of a letter1 from the provisional government of autonomous Siberia in which is enclosed a declaration of that government in regard to its establishment and its rights in Siberian territory.
I have [etc.]
Declaration of the Provisional Government of Autonomous Siberia relative to the Establishment of its Power over the Territory of Siberia
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia has the honor to bring to the knowledge of the powers friendly to Russia, both Allied and neutral, that on June 29, new style, it assumed central governmental power over the territory of Siberia.
It raises its flag at a political moment of sorrow to Russia but nevertheless realizing the seriousness and responsibilities of the position taken by it for the purpose of restoring political order in Siberia and thus starting the reconstitution of united Russia into a democratic federal republic competent to enter as a substantial unit the ranks of the powers that are fighting for the triumph of democratic principles in international relations.[Page 294]
The immediate aim of the government of Siberia is now to convene a regional assembly of Siberia and to prepare to convene the national representative assembly of Siberia which, elected by universal suffrage, will set up, in perfect accord with the Pan-Russian Constituent Assembly, the form of government in Siberia, as an inseparable part of the Russian Republic.
In order to secure the conditions needed for the accomplishment of the above-stated purposes, the provisional government regards it as its foremost duty to restore the government organs and institutions suppressed by the Soviet government and first of all, the Zemstvos and municipalities; it also regards it as its duty to place under adequate guarantees personal liberty and private ownership rights. To these ends the provisional government of autonomous Siberia will instantly take measures tending to the revival of the laws existing prior to October 25 [/November 7], 1917, and to the repeal of the laws and decrees enacted under the Bolshevik rule. At the same time, the provisional government of autonomous Siberia deems it necessary to affirm by means of a special act the points gained by the revolution with regard to occupational freedom; it further deems it necessary to promote by all available means the commerce and industry of Siberia by creating conditions favorable to the development of cooperative enterprise and private initiative; government control will be established to thwart possible speculation.
The provisional government assumed the central government power after being vested with authority therefor by the Regional Duma of Siberia constituted on the basis of representation from the Zemstvos, the municipalities, national organizations of the people of Siberia, Cossacks, Council of Peasants’ Deputies, labor and cooperative associations, higher schools, etc.
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia is recognized as the lawful power in western Siberia where its functions are temporarily exercised—until the seat of the government is transferred—by the emissaries of western Siberia, who are Messrs. Lindberg, Mikhailov, Sidorov and Grishin. In the Maritime Province the legality of the powers of the government of Siberia has likewise been acknowledged in resolutions of the executive committee of the Zemstvos and the municipality and in motions adopted by the several organizations of the city of Vladivostok whose political tenets are based on the principle of universal suffrage and of calling the Pan-Russian Constituent Assembly and lastly by the several political parties; viz., the Social Democratic Party (united Mensheviks), Socialist-Revolutionist, and the Labor (People’s Socialist) Party.
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia has every reason to believe that as the anti-governmental elements which are carrying on their destructive work in some parts of the Far East are eliminated, it will easily be acknowledged by the people, as it has already been in central and western Siberia. At the same time the government expresses a hope that the armed forces which have heretofore operated in the territory of the Chinese Eastern Railway, fighting for the principles of a reorganization of the Russian state, will now turn the task over to the lawful government and desist from independent action.
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia makes no pretense of hiding from the friendly powers and the people that there were a few gaps in the membership of the Regional Duma of Siberia which elected it but the conditions under which the elections were held admitted of no other course.
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia expresses a hope that the governments of the friendly powers will not lay stress on those imperfections which do not injuriously affect the principles of its legal authority since [Page 295] the majority of the Siberian people have endorsed and recognized the elected government.
The provisional government regrets to acknowledge that representatives of the bourgeois classes were temporarily absent from the Regional Duma, deeming as it does that a union of all the classes of the people in the supreme organ of government is indispensable.
Unwilling however to overstep the powers that were ascribed to it by changing, of its own motion, the principles of election to and representation in the Regional Duma, the provisional government feels bound to give to the non-represented part of the population the formal assurance that it will introduce into the Regional Duma, at its first session, a bill for the immediate completion of the membership of the Duma.
With regard to its own make-up the government has decided to perfect it at once and without delay by admitting on terms of equality delegates of the non-represented classes so as to impart to it a wholly national character.
Under the resolutions passed at the meeting of the representatives of Siberia on the 15th [/28th] of December 1917 and confirmed by the Regional Duma of Siberia on January 28 [/February 10], 1918, Siberia is to be regarded as an autonomous province of the Russian Federative Republic, and by the same token the provisional government of autonomous Siberia solemnly declares that it regards it as its foremost and imperative duty to safeguard the interests of Russia as a whole throughout Siberia and acknowledges as binding upon itself all the international treaties and conventions of Russia with the friendly powers, in force up to October 25 [/November 7], 1917.
The foregoing declaration makes it clear that the provisional government of autonomous Siberia can not recognize any of the treaties negotiated by the Council of Commissioners of the People and, first of all, the Brest Litovsk peace treaty.
At the same time the provisional government declares that any legislative, administrative, or international act of any organization whatever claiming authority on the territory of Siberia shall be considered to be null and void.
The provisional government considering Siberia to be inseparable part of one great Russia, in a state of war against the coalition of the Central powers of Europe, declares its main, paramount aim to be the regeneration of Russia and resumption of hostilities against the Austro-German coalition, in full accord with the Allied powers and with a view to an international peace founded on true democratic principles. To that end, the provisional government of autonomous Siberia, while organizing volunteer military units, is already engaged in realizing the general plan of creating in Siberia a new army governed by the principles of strict non-political discipline.
In the first place, in carrying out its firm will to resume the fight against the German coalition, the provisional government considers itself in duty bound to take active measures against the hostile acts of the prisoners of war who have organized themselves into a vanguard of the Austro-German armed forces in Siberian territory.
Conformably to that decision the provisional government is taking measures to disarm in every section free from the Soviet authority and send back to concentration camps all the prisoners of war found in Siberia.
The provisional government of autonomous Siberia considering in a general way all independent action taken without its consent by any armed forces whatsoever within the territory of Siberia as being contrary to the principles [Page 296] of international law, recognizes nevertheless the action of Czecho-Slovak detachments as an act of self-defense against hostile attempts on their independence.
The common sentiments of Slavic relationship and the purely strategic problems which actuate the Czecho-Slovaks, force upon the provisional government an understanding with the Czecho-Slovak National Council permitting military operations of its forces within Siberia so long as the said operations will be necessary in promoting the struggle against Germanic penetration into Siberia.
All the above-stated considerations and the program of the provisional government of autonomous Siberia as above outlined justify its hope that the governments of the Allied powers will recognize its program as meeting in every respect the demands of public law that may confront a new government and will therefore not fail to take into consideration the general interests of the friendly powers and the interests of autonomous Siberia as an integral part of Russia and to express their confidence in and recognition of the government of autonomous Siberia.