File No. 861.00/3057

The Russian Ambassador ( Bakhmeteff ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to transmit to you the French text and the English paraphrase of an “Act constituting the supreme power of Russia” as approved by the National State Conference held at Ufa between the 8th and 23d of September, 1918.

This text has been transmitted to me by Mr. Nicholas D. Avksentiev, president of the new-formed provisional government, with a request to transmit it to the Government of the United States.

Mr. Avksentiev further informs me that the newly elected Russian provisional government considers itself as successor in power to the Provisional Government constituted in March 1917. The government emphasizes in particular that, in the sphere of foreign policy, the newly formed Russian provisional government, expressing the [Page 406] genuine will of the people of Russia, will continue to fight in close union with the Allied powers against the German coalition. The government confirms all treaties concluded with the Allied powers by the Provisional Government of 1917 and proclaims the annihilation of the treaty of Brest as well as of all other international arrangements which have been concluded after the revolution of March 1917 in the name of Russia or of any of its provinces by any authorities except that of the Russian Provisional Government of 1917.

The government further declares that it regards the government of the Bolsheviki Soviets, which ventured to act in the name of the Russian people, as but a power of usurpers, and that the Russian people rallying around the newly formed provisional government are struggling in order to liberate the country from the Bolsheviki authorities, the very existence of whom is based on German-Hungarian forces.

I avail myself [etc.]

B. Bakhmeteff
[Enclosure—Translation]

Act Constituting the Supreme Power of All Russia, as Approved by the National State Conference Held at Ufa, September 8–23, 1918

The Russian Provisional Government which was formed at the National Convention held at Ufa, on September 8–23, 1918, has communicated to the Russian Embassy at Washington the text of the “Act constituting the supreme power of Russia “as approved by that convention. The text follows:

The National Convention was composed of:

1.
The present members of the Constituent Assembly and representatives of the committee of the same assembly;
2.
Representatives of the temporary government of Siberia; the regional government of the Ural; the temporary government of Esthonia;
3.
Representatives of the Cossacks of Orenburg, Uralsk, Siberia, Irkutsk, Semirechensk, Yenisei and Astrakhan;
4.
Representatives of the governments of the Bashkirs, the Kirghiz, the Turkestan and the Turko-Tatars of interior Russia and Siberia;
5.
Representatives of the Convention of Municipalities and Zemstvos of Siberia, the Ural and the Volga;
6.
Representatives of the following parties and organizations: Socialist Revolutionists, Social Democrats (Mensheviks), Socialist Labor Party, Constitutional Democrats (Narodnaya Svoboda), of the Social Democratic organization “Edinstvo” and of the “Association of the Rebirth of Russia.”

In an unanimous effort to save the fatherland, to reestablish its unity and its independence, the convention has decreed to transmit the supreme power over the whole territory of Russia to the Provisional Government, composed of five persons:

  • Nicholas D. Avksentiev
  • Nicholas I. Astrov
  • Lieut. Gen. Vassili G. Boldyrev
  • Peter V. Vologodski
  • Nicholas V. Chaikovski

[Page 407]

The Provisional Government in its activities will be guided by principles announced in this constitutive act, as follows:

General Principles

1.
Until the moment-of the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, the Russian Provisional Government is the sole possessor of supreme power over the whole territory of Russia.
2.
On the order of the Russian Provisional Government all functions of supreme power, temporarily exercised by regional governments, are transmitted to the Provisional Government.
3.
Definition of the limits of power of the regional governments, which are to be founded on the principles of broad regional autonomy and in accord with the program stated below, is confided to the judgment of the Russian Provisional Government.

Obligations of the Government towards the Constituent Assembly

The Russian Provisional Government accepts the following obligations:

1.
The Provisional Government will aid the Convention of Members of the Constituent Assembly, which is acting as a state institution, in its work, aiming to secure the attendance of members of the Constituent Assembly and to prepare for the opening of the session of the assembly, as elected in November 1917, at the earliest possible date.
2.
All acts of the Government will be based on the presumption of the sovereign and unquestionable rights of the Constituent Assembly. The Government will take vigilant care that the subordinate administrative institutions should not infringe the rights of the Constituent Assembly or retard in any way the beginning of the assembly’s activities.
3.
The Government will, without delay, report concerning all its acts to the Constituent Assembly, from the very beginning of its activities; it owes entire submission to the Constituent Assembly as the only possessor of sovereign power in Russia.1

Immediate Aims of the Provisional Government

In endeavoring to reconstitute the unity and independence of Russia, the Provisional Government sets forth as its immediate aim:

1.
Struggle for the liberation of Russia from the power of the Bolshevik Soviets.
2.
The reintegration of Russia in readjoining regions which were detached or separated.
3.
Disavowal of the treaty of Brest Litovsk and of all other international treaties concluded after the revolution of March 1917, either in the name of Russia or in the name of its Provinces, by any authority except the Provisional Government.
4.
Restoration of treaties with the Allied nations.
5.2
Continuation of war against the German coalition.

[Page 408]

In its interior policy the Provisional Government pursues the following aims:

Military Affairs

1.
The creation of a single and powerful Russian army beyond the influence of political parties and subordinate, through its military chief, to the Russian Provisional Government.
2.
Exclusion of intervention by military authorities in the domain of civil authorities except in the fighting zone of the armies or regions declared by the Government, in cases of extreme necessity, in conditions of siege.
3.
Establishment of strict military discipline based on law and humanity.
4.
Interdiction of political organizations in the army and its entire separation from politics.

Civil Affairs

1.
Liberated Russia must be constituted in accord with liberal principles of regional autonomy, taking into consideration the geographical, economic, and ethnographical differences. The national organization and federation, of the state will be determined by the Constituent Assembly, possessor of the supreme power.
2.
The Government secures to national minorities which do not occupy definite territories the free development of their national culture.
3.
The Government secures to the liberated parts of Russia the reestablishment of democratic municipalities and Zemstvos, fixing immediately the nearest possible date for new elections.
4.
The Government secures the realization of civil liberties.
5.
The Government will take necessary measures actually guaranteeing general security and public order.

Economic Relations

1.
To cope with the economic disorganization.
2.
Development of productive forces of the country with the aid of private capital, as well Russian as foreign, and of personal initiative.
3.
Legal regulation of commerce and industry.
4.
Increase the productiveness of labor and reduce the non-essential expenditure of national revenues.
5.
Development of labor legislation, protection of labor and regulation of the conditions of employment and discharge of workmen.
6.
The Government recognizes full liberty of unions.
7.
Relative to questions of supplies the Government stands for abolition of state monopoly of wheat and abolition of fixed prices, continuing at the same time to regulate distribution of products existing in insufficient quantities, and will organize state warehouses with the aid of private commercial and cooperative societies.
8.
In the sphere of finance the Government will combat the depreciation of paper money in working out the reconstitution of the fiscal system, increasing the direct income tax and the indirect taxes.
9.
The Constituent Assembly alone has the right to solve definitely the agrarian question and the Government cannot admit any modification which would impede the work of the Constituent Assembly. It, therefore, temporarily leaves the exploitation of the soil to its present holders and resumes activities aiming to regulate and increase to the utmost the exploitation of the soil, in conformity with the peculiarities of the regional customs.
[Page 409]

Order of Substitution of Members of the Government

The Provisional Government, possessor of supreme power, exercises this power in accordance with the above principles. Until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly the members of this body cannot be recalled and are not responsible to anybody for their activities.

The following persons are chosen to serve as substitutes for members of the Provisional Government who might be obliged to quit their functions:

Andrei A. Argunov, Vladimir A. Vinogradov, Gen. Michael V. Alexeev, Vassili V. Sapozhnikov and Vladimir M. Zenzinov.

In case of the absence of one of the members of the Provisional Government, their substitution will take place in the following manner:

  • N. D. Avksentiev would be replaced by A. A. Argunov.
  • N. I. Astrov would be replaced by V. A. Vinogradov.
  • Lieut. Gen. V. G. Boldyrev would be replaced by Gen. M. V. Alexeev.
  • P. V. Vologodski would be replaced by V. V. Sapozhnikov.
  • N. V. Chaikovski would be replaced by V. M. Zenzinov.

So as to fully realize the activities of government, those members of the Provisional Government who are at present absent are replaced in the order designated in the preceding article.

Members of the Provisional Government will take a solemn oath when assuming their functions.

(Signatures follow)

[Annex]

Attached hereto the resolution of the Convention of the Constituent Assembly of September 18, 1918:

The Convention of Members of the Constituent Assembly held on territory liberated from the Bolsheviks at its meeting of September 18, decrees, in case of organization in the near future by the national convention of a provisional government of Russia, which would assume temporarily the power so needed by the population, to convoke the Constituent Assembly on January 1, 1919, if the number of members present is not less than 250 to open its session; if the indicated quorum is not attained at the given date, the Constituent Assembly should resume its activities on February 1, 1919, under condition of attendance of 170 members.

President of the Convention,
V. Zenzinov

Secretary,
N. Zdobnov

(Then come the signatures of all the members.)
  1. In the French, text there appears here the resolution printed post, p. 409.
  2. Inthe French text, and in a Russian text printed in 1926, the paragraph here numbered 5 is numbered 4 and the paragraph here numbered 4 becomes a part of paragraph 3.