File Now 861.00/3008
The Ambassador in Japan (Morris), temporarily at Harbin, to the Secretary of State
[Received October 21, 12.86 p.m.]
Although I have not had time or opportunity for a thorough investigation I submit the following summary of the political situation in Siberia as it appears after a month of daily conferences with representative Russians and other careful observers:
- There is no central government in Siberia which exercises any real authority.
- There have been groups which aspired to the title of central Siberian government and one which has assumed the more ambitious title of all-Russian government.
- Of these governments the most active is the one organized at Omsk, which has the support of Prince Lvov and which has recently concluded negotiations for consolidation with the so-called Horvat government. It has had from the beginning the sympathy of the British and French representatives, largely because it has cultivated close relations with the Czech forces operating in the Omsk district. While it has gone through the forms of issuing orders, appointing local representatives, distributing offices and creating an army, it does not of itself exercise any authority whatever.
- Supplementing above governments of this character are a number of municipal and provincial governments which possess some authority and which are endeavoring, sometimes efficiently, more often rather crudely, to bring a semblance of order out of the chaos of local affairs.
- In the local governments there is a real popular interest and also an intense jealousy lest any central organization may interfere with their purposes and efforts. It is this attitude which in part explains the present political confusion and the failure of various attempts to form an all-Siberian government.
- All information I can obtain justifies the conclusion that there still exists in the larger towns, on the Trans-Siberian Railway a strong Bolshevik sentiment, which is less a political movement than an expression of industrial discontent. It is no longer organized but would probably reassert itself as soon as the Czech or Allied forces were withdrawn. In my judgment only an improvement in economic conditions and a frank recognition and correction of the industrial inequalities will modify the existing bitter class feeling of the Bolsheviks.
Therefore suggest for the present:
- That no recognition or assistance be accorded to any of the so-called all-Siberian governments;
- That aid and advice be given by our representatives when-ever possible to local governments in their efforts to improve local conditions;
- That in the proposed operation of the railways no recognition be accorded to any one of the several Ministers of Ways of Communication, who are now making futile efforts to exercise their jurisdiction, but that every assistance be given Mr. Stevens to introduce modern equipment and spirit of (co)operation;
- That our military forces be spread in groups over as large a part as possible of the Chinese Eastern and Trans-Siberian Railways with strict instructions to avoid all political entanglements and simply to maintain order along the line of the railway.
This suggested policy will no doubt require modification hereafter, and I hope I have complied with Department’s instruction of last February to investigate and report fully upon political conditions in western Siberia. It is based, however, on my present hope that if we can arrange the efficient operation of the railways with a high standard of justice to the employees and retain sufficient Allied and American troops for protection and support, we can begin our economic and social program and at the same time permit the free development of local self-government out of which may grow a central Siberian authority which will be truly representative.