This text was taken from In Russian and French Prisons, London: Ward and Downey; 1887.

In Russian and French Prisons

by P. Kropotkin


(Page 194.)


IT is known that after the Winter Palace explosion, Loris Melikoff was nominated chief of the Executive, with nearly dictatorial powers. In fact, Alexander II. abdicated in his hands. One of the first steps of Loris Melikoff was to permit the Provincial Assemblies to express their wishes. So they did; and one of the first wishes expressed was for the abolition of the system of "Administrative exile." The St. Petersburg nobility were among the first to protest against this abominable system, and in their sitting of February 17th (March 1st), 1881, they carried the following resolution: "To address the Emperor a petition in order to ask that the law which warrants the inviolability of the person of each citizen, be not violated."

During the discussion, E. A. Shakeelf read a report on the system of Administrative exile, in which report he wrote: --

"If we revert to the Russian code, we see that no kind of punishment can be applied otherwise than by a sentence of a tribunal.... It seemed that after the promulgation of the Law of 1864 there could be no interference of the administrative authorities with the function of the judicial authorities, and that DO punishment could be inflicted otherwise than by a sentence of a court. Such punishment without judgment-was considered by the State's Council as an act of arbitrariness.... But of late we have seen something quite new. The rights given to each citizen by law have become illusory. Under the pretext of clearing Russia from men politically 'unreliable,' the Administration began to exile on a small scale; but later on it enlarged the scale more and more.... At the beginning, society was angry against such proceedings. But in the long run it became accustomed to these acts of arbitrariness, and the sudden disappearance of people from their families ceased to be considered as something extraordinary.

"The prosecution was chiefly directed against young men and women, most not having reached their majority. Often for a single acquaintance, for kinship, for being related with some school which had a bad reputation in the eyes of the Administration, for an. expression, in a letter, or for keeping a photograph of some political exile, young people were exiled."

"The Law Messenger gave, some time ago, the numbers of persons thus exiled (to Siberia) by mere orders of the Administration, and the figures varied from 250 to 2500 every year; but, if we add to these figures those of persons exiled in the same way to the interior provinces of European Russia, which figures we may only guess at, the whole will appear as a real hecatomb of human beings."

M. Shakeeff concluded by proposing to sign the above-mentioned petition. His speech was often interrupted by cries of "Bravo! Quite right!" The President of the Assembly, Baron P. L. Korff, supported the proposal of M. Shakeeff, and added that it had a very deep meaning. for all Russia.

The Assembly, "considering that the system of Administrative exile is not justified by the law," signed the petition and sent it to the Emperor. Of course, all remained as it was. The only change made WAS that there is now a special committee which periodically revises all cases of Administrative exile, and periodically adds three or five years more of exile to those persons whom they consider dangerous. Those exiles who are permitted to return to Russia are prohibited to stay in any of the larger cities where they might find their livings.

Return to Table of Contents.
Return to Anarchy Archives.