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do what he wanted, i.e. govern Finland with the aid
of Finnish officials. He wrote in November, 1903:
"I am content with the Senate and imagine they
have nothing much against me." And von Plehve,
who was at once Russian Minister President and
Minister Secretary of State for Finland, in an open
letter to W. T. Stead, said that "the principle of
Imperial unity" must be established in Finland,
and that it would be best if it could be accomplished
through the co-operation of the local authorities, add-
ing that the hope of such co-operation is justified,
seeing that all branches of the Imperial authority are
already working freely with the aid of pure Finns.

Bobrikoff had, however, to deal also with a very
large body of officials of the Constitutional party.
These he could not induce to do his will, and ac-
cordingly the only course was to get rid of them and
put Russians or Finns of the Senatorial party in
their place. In the early autumn of 1902 several
ordinances were issued giving the Governor-General
very wide powers over recalcitrant officials. All offi-
cials were henceforth to be liable to dismissal, with-
out any investigation or trial, on the mere word
of a superior a flagrant breach both of justice and


of Finnish law. Further, Russians were to have
the same rights as Finns to positions in the Finnish
administration, although, according to the Constitu-
tion, such appointments can only be held by Finns.
It lay with the Governor-General to decide whether
a man was " qualified " for the position he desired.
A further step was to free officials from all fear of
prosecution in the Finnish courts for breaches of
Finnish law committed by them in executing Bobri-
kofd 's orders, by making such prosecutions depend-
ent on the consent of a "higher authority," i.e. the
Governor-General. Bobrikoff 's power was still
further widened, at the cost of the Senate, so that
he was steadily approaching the position of Dicta-
tor of Finland.

The dismissal of officials began to take ever
greater proportions and to become a matter of
daily occurrence. One of the most important in-
stances concerned the Court of Appeal at Abo. On
April 18, 1902, some Cossacks, acting under the
orders of the Russian Governor of the province of
Nyland, General Kaigorodoff, had charged a peace-
able crowd of people in one of the principal squares
of Helsingf ors and done considerable injury among
them. For this the Governor was summoned to
stand his trial before the Abo court. The court
was ordered by the Russian authorities to drop the
case, but refused to submit to this unconstitutional
command. The trial was an important one, for the
issue at stake was whether General Kaigorodoff, or
any other Russian, could order his Cossacks to use
their sabres and knouts on peaceful Finnish citizens
with impunity or not. If the trial was quashed, it


meant that the Finns had no redress whatever
against the violence of the Eussian military, and
that these could commit whatever crimes they chose
without fear of punishment. The Eussian answer
to the court's refusal was summarily to make an end
of the resistance by dismissing, with loss of pen-
sion, no less than twenty-three members of the court
and replacing them by members of the Senatorial
group. The acceptance of the posts by these men,
and their retention of them after the events of 1905,
was one of the greatest causes of bitterness between
the Constitutional and the Senatorial parties. Bob-
rikoff continued the work of destruction by dis-
missing, in large numbers, members of the Courts
of Appeals at Viborg and Vasa, besides removing
from office the mayors of eleven of the principal
towns of Finland. It is estimated that among the
higher branches of the administration alone the dis-
missals amounted to nearly three hundred, and to
these must be added all the military officers, high
and low, the police officials, clerks and copyists, and
a host of other persons who were Cither turned out
or forced to resign.

Besides the dismissal of constitutionally-minded
officials, Bobrikoff used various other means to de-
nationalize Finland, only a few of which can be
mentioned here. The February Manifesto, as has
already been pointed out, was soon followed by
the Language Manifesto of June 20, 1900. This re-
quired the extension of the Eussian language to
many new branches of the Finnish administration, 1

1 Eussian had of course always been used in the official com-
munications between the leading Finnish authorities and the


although the Russian-speaking population of Fin-
land, exclusive of the military, is only some 8,000.
It further provided for the dismissal of officials
who could not within a given time speak Russian,
which in its turn implied that only persons who
spoke Russian would be eligible as officials in fu-
ture. In 1902 it was further enacted that a very
substantial amount of Russian should be introduced
into the administration of the province of Viborg
in two years from January 1, 1904, and into that
of the rest of Finland in five years from that date.

Bobrikoff early took steps to stifle the expression
of public opinion. Thus, by means of an ordinance
enacting that no public meeting might be held with-
out his permission, he made an end of Finland's
time-honoured right of association, inherited from
Sweden. Moreover, he flooded the country with his
spies, that they might overhear and report speeches
or conversations. The censorship of the Press was
made far stricter. Many newspapers were heavily
fined, others were suspended for several months
at a time, others ceased to appear altogether. It
often happened that papers which had actually
been sanctioned by the censor were confiscated when
published and their owners fined. One result of
this persecution was the growth of a very interest-
ing secret Press, which was organized in a remark-
ably able way.

The education of the country was also to be rus-
sianized. The Governor-General was made chief
inspector of all educational institutions, and it was
his duty to ' ' so direct the instruction that the youth


of the country is inspired with a spirit of affection
for H.M. the Emperor and Eussia. ' ' There is some-
thing grimly humorous in the notion of Bobrikoff
fulfilling this command. The hours that had to be
devoted to the study of Eussian were disproportion-
ately increased so as to interfere seriously with the
school curriculum. Spies contributed their share
in instilling a love of Eussia among the school-
children, and many school-teachers had to leave
their posts for political reasons. A special com-
mittee sat in the Governor-General's office to revise
the text-books on Finnish history and geography
used in the school another spectacle which pro-
vokes a smile. Nor was the University quite left
alone, the Vice-Chancellor being forced to resign in
1903, some students being banished and a certain
number being "sent down" for six months.

A new Imperial manifesto was issued on April 15,
1903, conferring on Bobrikoff the powers of a Dic-
tator. And about this time commenced the practice
of banishing leading Finnish citizens who were
objectionable to Eussia. In April 1903 eight promi-
nent men were commanded to leave the country
within a week. Their houses were searched by Eus-
sian dragoons. Shortly afterwards, sentence of
banishment was passed on eight others. In June
and July seven more followed; in August and Sep-
thember eleven, in October three, and so on. Other
persons met with even a worse fate, being arrested
and transported to Eussia, where they were im-
prisoned or kept under police supervision. In many
cases no reason was given for the banishments; in
others, only the general reason that the banished


man was a danger to public order. Against the
violence of Russian troops or police there was no
redress. Indeed, the police became, under Bobri-
koff, more and more the rulers of the land. Their
numbers increased, while their quality deteriorated.
Many of the best among them were dismissed or
resigned, and their places were taken partly by
persons drawn from the worst elements of society
and partly by Russians, Esthonians and other for-
eigners, who in most cases could speak neither
Swedish nor Finnish. In Helsingf ors and Viborg
nearly half the police force consisted of foreigners,
and in Tavastehus the proportion was even greater.
Even among the officers were men who had been
sentenced to imprisonment for crime, but who were
sheltered by Bobrikoff on condition that they be-
came his creatures. Far from protecting society,
the police force became a menace to it. Persons
were illegally arrested and kept in prison, women
were subjected to insults, men and even children to
gross maltreatment, and all classes of society to
the ignoble supervision of the paid spy. Not con-
tent with this, Bobrikoff in 1903 procured an
ordinance which, in defiance of the Finnish Consti-
tution, gave to the Russian police the same authority
in Finland as the native police, together with the
right to receive salaries out of the Finnish State
funds. Russian police now interfered in various
branches of Finnish life, looking for forbidden liter-
ature in the custom-house, carrying on house-search-
ings, trying by bribery or the offer of preferment
to induce the lowest element among the population
to turn spy or informer. In this horrible aim they


were sometimes successful, and secret accusations
began to be only too common. Such is the effect
of forcing degrading standards of life, even upon a
population that is naturally of sterling honesty.

Finally it must be pointed out how Bobrikoff
carried out the military programme for which he
was sent to Finland, and whose object was the ex-
tension to the Grand Duchy of the Eussian military
system. The first step was the issuing of an ordi-
nance according to the military law of Russia which
prescribed conscription. The number of conscripts
was to be fixed by the Emperor. Finnish conscripts
could be drafted into Russian regiments and were
liable for service in Russia, and Finland was to have
no separate military organization. Moreover, all
the Finnish troops except the Guards and the
Dragoon regiment were disbanded, a step which
caused particular bitterness. Shortly afterwards
Bobrikoff found an excuse for disbanding the Dra-
goons also.

A great national address of protest was made to
the Emperor, nearly half a million signatures being
collected. But the Finns prepared to protest also
in a far more effective way, namely, by refusing to
serve as conscripts. A most astonishing strike was
the result, the execution of which implied a re-
markable power of organization. When carried out
in its fulness the plan of action was as follows : The
clergy first refused to proclaim the new law in the
churches. Both the clergy and the district clerks
then refused to send in lists of the young men whose
age rendered them liable to service. The recruiting
boards refused to make a selection from these young


men. The presidents of the communes and the doc-
tors refused to work the law in any way. Finally,
the young men themselves refused to put in an ap-
pearance on the day when they should have become

In few places was this scheme carried out in its
fulness, the clergy in particular often being very
half-hearted in their resistance. The congregations
in many cases, however, made up for this by walking
out of the church in a body as soon as the pastor
began to proclaim the law, or by singing hymns so
loud that his voice could not be heard. By 1903,
however, the resistance had weakened, partly owing
to the arguments of the Senatorial party, who dis-
approved of the strike, and partly owing to the
cleverness of the Russians, who began by merely
insisting on an almost purely formal registration of
names. About two-thirds of the conscripts pre-
sented themselves, Russian troops being in some
cases employed to bring recruits to the place of
meeting. In 1904 about four-fifths of the conscripts
presented themselves, and Russia seemed almost
to have gained her point. The long struggle against
brutal oppression was clearly telling on Finland,
and the spirit of the nation seemed likely to be
broken, when relief came from an unexpected quar-
ter. Eugene Schauman, a young gentleman em-
ployed at the Senate, shot Bobrikoff on the steps
of the Senate House on June 16, 1904, and after-
wards shot himself. He had no confidants, and for
some time before the assassination he avoided his
friends and refused to greet them in the streets,
lest they should be arrested on account of his asso-
ciation with them.



OTHER circumstances besides Bobrikoff 's death
contributed at this time to relieve the pres-
sure upon Finland. Russia was in the midst of the
war with Japan, and needed all her forces for that
great struggle. The war, moreover, afforded a long
sought opportunity to the Russian revolutionary
parties, who brought about the General Strike which
resulted in the Tsar's concession of a Duma. Under
Prince Obolenski, Bobrikoif 's successor, the Russian
grip on Finland was already relaxing, and as soon
as the news of the Tsar's manifesto conceding the
Duma to Russia reached Finland, the General Strike
broke out there also.

It had many results, but the most important was
that it induced the Russian Government to withdraw
the illegal ordinances and restore constitutional
government. The Tsar issued a manifesto to this
effect, and life resumed its ordinary course. As
was pointed out in previous chapters, the franchise
was widened and the Constitution amended. The
Russian officials vanished. The Senate was formed
by the Constitutional party, under the chairman-
ship of Leo Mechelin, and an era of reform began.
It seemed as if the constitutional battle having been
fought and won in Russia, a bright future was open-
ing for Finland.

The period of hope was, however, short-lived, and
the storm-clouds soon gathered again round both
countries. By means of wholesale executions and
banishments, Stolypin crushed the revolutionary



movement throughout Russia, and, after a fierce
struggle with the first two named Dumas, he suc-
ceeded, by means of his famous coup d'etat, in get-
ting a Duma which was an obedient instrument in
his hands. Finland's turn now came.

To the old motives calling for the russianization
of Finland new ones were added. The Russian Gov-
ernment was now animated by a desire to take ven-
geance on Finland for the death of Bobrikoff and
the General Strike. The wish to distract attention
as much as possible from the misgovernment at
home was also a reason for reviving the Finnish
question. Moreover, the Duma, crippled as it was,
had introduced a new element into Russian politics.
The reactionaries now required a certain amount of
popular support, or at least the appearance of it,
for whatever they undertook, and Stolypin pur-
chased this by attacking Finland. He thereby se-
cured the support of the Nationalists, who always
regarded with satisfaction the persecution of the
non-Russian nationalities within the Empire. This
plan had been suggested early in 1906, when the
position of the Russian Government was still critical
in the extreme. Count Witte had said at a Cabinet
Council presided over by the Emperor: "Assuming
that we survive the present misfortunes . . . the
Finnish question is not dangerous. . . . Why should
your Majesty take it upon yourself to settle the
Finnish question! Rather let the Duma do so. If
it is nationalistic, it will go farther than the mon-
archs have gone ; it will settle every question. It is
inadvisable for the Government to provoke the Finns
and drive them to ally themselves with the Duma."


This discussion incidentally throws a sad light
on the degree of sincerity in the Russian Govern-
ment's restoration of the Finnish Constitution a
month or two earlier.

It is impossible to go into details about the latest
attack on the Finnish Constitution, and the subject
can only be presented in outline. The campaign
commenced on May 18, 1908, when M. Stolypin ex-
plained his Finnish policy to the Duma. He argued
that Russia's rights in Finland depended not on
the Act of Assurance at Borga, but on the Treaty
of Fredrikshamn (see Chapter XVI). He admitted
Finland's autonomy, but said that this was merely
a " local" autonomy, and that in Imperial matters
Russia had the right to legislate for Finland. At
the same time he hastened to reassure Finland and
the world in general that " there must be no room
for the suspicion that Russia would violate the
rights of autonomy conferred on Finland by the
monarchs. In Russia might cannot go before right. ' '

The worth of this excellent sentiment was seen a
fortnight later, when on June 2nd the Tsar sanc-
tioned a protocol of the Council of Ministers which
practically transferred the control of the adminis-
tration of Finland from the Finnish Senate to the
aforesaid Council. Before being brought before
the Tsar, all Finnish legislative proposals and all
administrative business "of general importance*'
must, according to this protocol, be communicated
to the Russian Council of Ministers. The Council
was then to determine " which matters concerning
the Grand Duchy of Finland also have a bearing
on the interests of the Empire, and consequently


call for a fuller examination on the part of the
Ministries and the Government Boards." Having
determined that a matter affects some "Imperial
interest, ' ' the Council was to prepare a report on it.
If the Council and the Finnish authorities differed
in their views of the matter, the Finnish Secretary
of State, who alone, according to the Constitution,
can bring Finnish matters before the Tsar, was only
to do so in the presence of the President of the
Council of Ministers or some other Russian Min-

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this
revolutionary protocol was that none of the Fin-
nish authorities knew anything whatever about it
beforehand. Neither the Secretary of State, nor
the Diet, nor the Senate was warned. The whole
matter was arranged privately by the Tsar and his
Ministers. Yet it involved nothing less than the
undermining of the Finnish Constitution.

Needless to say, the Senate protested to the Em-
peror, and no less than three memoranda was sent
up to him, bearing the dates of June 19, 1908, De-
cember 22, 1908, and February 25, 1909.

The memoranda were rejected by the Emperor on
the advice of the Council of Ministers. The Diet
forwarded a petition dated October 13, 1908, but
this met with the same fate. The Emperor went
so far as to refuse an audience to the Finnish Secre-
tary of State, so that the matter could not even be
brought before him in the constitutional manner.
Half the Senators, those composing the Department
of Justice, resigned as a consequence of these pro-
ceedings, while Mechelin and many of his colleagues


in the central administration were dismissed. Let
us now consider how the Russian Council of Min-
isters used the powers it had thus usurped.

In the first place, wide as were its powers under
this unconstitutional protocol, the Council was not
content with them, but proceeded to lay hands on
measures that could by no means be classed as of
"Imperial interest. " Following the Council's ad-
vice, the Emperor refused his sanction to a num-
ber of such Bills. In November, 1908, a Trades Law
adopted by the Diet was thus destroyed. In De-
cember, 1908, a grant of the Senate for the building
of a road in Finnish Lapland was disallowed. In
the same month a proposal to transfer 200,000
from the "General State Fund" to a fund for fur-
nishing loans to secure small holdings for the land-
less population was interfered with. Instances could
easily be multiplied. The administration of the
country was seriously interfered with, the bureau-
crats at Petersburg being entirely ignorant of Fin-
nish conditions and utterly out of sympathy with
the nation they were mismanaging. It is worth
pointing out not merely the unconstitutionalism and
the harmfulness of the Council's action, but also
its absurdity. Thus in January 1910 we find the
Council of Ministers actually engaged in discussing
whether a new porter might be appointed to the
Geographical Department of the University of Hels-
ingfors and whether the physical laboratory might
be allowed to engage a new stoker.

The next great blow directed against Finland
was the appointment of a committee, consisting of
six Russian and five Finnish members, to draft


proposals for regulations concerning ' ' Imperial leg-
islation." Its real work was to decide what mat-
ters might reasonably be withdrawn from the com-
petence of the Finnish Diet on the ground that they
were "matters of Imperial interest." Both the
Finnish and Russian members drew up projects,
but naturally failed to reach any agreement. The
reason becomes clear when we examine the Russian
project. Legislation concerning the following sub-
jects was to be withdrawn from the Finnish Diet
and transferred to Russia:

(1) The participation of Finland in the expenditure of the

Empire, and the imposts, taxes and charges to be fixed
for this purpose;

(2) The taking up in Finland of military service and of other

military burdens;

(3) The rights of such Russian subjects resident in Finland

as are not Finnish citizens;

(4) The employment in Finland of the language of the

Empire ;

(5) The execution in Finland of sentences, verdicts and reso-

lutions of courts of justice and other authorities in
other parts of the Empire, as well as of agreements and
covenants there entered into;

(6) The fundamental principles for, and the limitations of,

carrying on the Finnish government by special insti-
tutions on the basis of a special mode of legislation
(Fundamental Laws of 1906, Article 2);

(7) Safeguarding public order in Finland, and the organiza-

tions which deal with public order;

(8) Criminal law, and the official responsibility of public func-

tionaries in Finland;

(9) The fundamental principles of the administration of jus-

tice in Finland;

(10) The fundamental principles of public education in Fin-

land, and the organization and control of the same;

(11) The establishment in Finland of companies, associations

and societies, and the conditions under which they may
work, and the arranging of public meetings;


(12) Legislation about the Press in Finland, and import of

foreign literature;

(13) The customs of Finland;

(14) Protection of trade marks and commercial privileges, as

well as literary and artistic copyright;

(15) The monetary system in Finland;

(16) The post, telegraph, telephone, aerial navigation and other

similar means of communication in Finland;

(17) The railways in Finland so far as they touch the defence

of the Empire and the traffic between Finland and
other parts of the Empire, as well as international
traffic; also the railway telegraph;

(18) Navigation, and the pilot and lighthouse service in

Finland ;

(19) The rights of aliens in Finland.

A study of this list shows that Russia intended
to abolish the Finnish Diet as it now exists and re-
duce it to the level of a county council.

Such was the end in view, and it now remained to
carry it out. Count Witte's advice to let the Duma
settle the Finnish question was not forgotten. But
nationalistic as the Duma was, the Opposition put
up such a hardy resistance when the above project
was laid before it that the Premier thought it pru-
dent to say that it was to be looked upon not as a
Bill to be passed immediately, but rather as a pro-
gramme for future legislation. As such it was
accepted by the Duma, and the reactionary Purish-
kevitch uttered his triumphant exclamation, " Finis

It was not for long that the Russian project re-
mained at the programme stage. The obedient
Duma proceeded to pass two laws which are having
a profound influence on the situation in Finland.
The one concerns the military question. Since the

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Online LibraryArthur ReadeFinland and the Finns → online text (page 20 of 22)