Russian Federation 1918 Historical

Preamble

The declaration of rights of the laboring and exploited people (approved by the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets in January, 1918), together with the constitution of the Soviet Republic, approved by the Fifth Congress, constitutes a single fundamental law of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.

This fundamental law becomes effective upon the publication of the same in its entirety in the "Izvestia of the All-Russian General Executive Committee." It must be published by all organs of the Soviet Government and must be posted in a prominent place in every Soviet institution.

The Fifth Congress instructs the People's Commissariat of Education to introduce in all schools and educational institutions of the Russian Republic the study and explanation of the basic principles of this constitution.

SECTION I. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE LABORING AND EXPLOITED PEOPLE

Chapter One

Russia is declared to be a Republic of the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies. All the central and local power belongs to these Soviets.

Art 2

The Russian Soviet Republic is organized on the basis of a free union of free nations, as a federation of Soviet national Republics.

Chapter Two

Bearing in mind as its fundamental problem the abolition of exploitation of men by men, the entire abolition of the division of the people into classes, the suppression of exploiters, the establishment of a Socialist society, and the victory of socialism in all lands, the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies further resolves:

1. For the purpose of realizing the socialization of land, all private property in land is abolished, and the entire land is declared to be national property and is to be apportioned among husbandmen without any compensation to the former owners, in the measure of each one's ability to till it.

2. All forests, treasures of the earth, and waters of general public utility, all implements whether animate or inanimate, model farms and agricultural enterprises, are declared to be national property.

3. As a first step toward complete transfer of ownership to the Soviet Republic of all factories, mills, mines, railways, and other means of production and transportation, the Soviet law for the control by workmen and the establishment of the Supreme Soviet of National Economy is hereby confirmed, so as to assure the power of the workers over the exploiters.

4. With reference to international banking and finance, the Third Congress of Soviets is discussing the Soviet decree regarding the annulment of loans made by the Government of the Czar, by landowners and the bourgeoisie, and it trusts that the Soviet Government will firmly follow this course until the final victory of the international workers' revolt against the oppression of capital.

5. The transfer of all banks into the ownership of the Workers' and Peasants' Government, as one of the conditions of the liberation of the toiling masses from the yoke of capital, is confirmed.

6. Universal obligation to work is introduced for the purpose of eliminating the parasitic strata of society and organizing the economic life of the country.

7. For the purpose of securing the working class in the possession of the complete power, and in order to eliminate all possibility of restoring the power of the exploiters, it is decreed that all toilers be armed, and that a Socialist Red Army be organized and the propertied class be disarmed.

Chapter Three

Expressing its absolute resolve to liberate mankind from the grip of capital and imperialism, which flooded the earth with blood in this present most criminal of all wars, the Third Congress of Soviets fully agrees with the Soviet Government in its policy of breaking secret treaties, of organizing on a wide scale the fraternization of the workers and peasants of the belligerent armies, and of making all efforts to conclude a general democratic peace without annexations or indemnities, upon the basis of the free determination of the peoples.

Art 5

It is also to this end that the Third Congress of Soviets insists upon putting an end to the barbarous policy of the bourgeois civilization which enables the exploiters of a few chosen nations to enslave hundreds of millions of the toiling population of Asia, of the colonies, and of small countries generally.

Art 6

The Third Congress of Soviets hails the policy of the Council of People's Commissars in proclaiming the full independence of Finland, in withdrawing troops from Persia, and in proclaiming the right of Armenia to self-determination.

Chapter Four

Art 7

The Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies believes that now, during the progress of the decisive battle between the proletariat and its exploiters, the exploiters cannot hold a position in any branch of the Soviet Government. The power must belong entirely to the toiling masses and to their plenipotentiary representatives—the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers', and Peasants' Deputies.

Art 8

In its effort to create a league—free and voluntary, and for that reason all the more complete and secure—of the working classes of all the peoples of Russia, the Third Congress of Soviets merely establishes the fundamental principles of the federation of Russian Soviet Republics, leaving to the workers and peasants of every people to decide the following question at their plenary sessions of their Soviets: whether or not they desire to participate, and on what basis, in the federal government and other federal Soviet institutions.

SECTION II. GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE RUSSIAN SOCIALIST FEDERATED SOVIET REPUBLIC

Chapter Five

The fundamental problem of the constitution of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic involves, in view of the present transition period, the establishment of a dictatorship of the urban and rural proletariat and the poorest peasantry in the form of a powerful All-Russian Soviet authority, for the purpose of abolishing the exploitation of men by men and of introducing Socialism, in which there will be neither a division into classes nor a state of autocracy.

Art 10

The Russian Republic is a free Socialist society of all the working people of Russia. The entire power, within the boundaries of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, belongs to all the working people of Russia, united in urban and rural Soviets.

The Soviets of those regions which differentiate themselves by a special form of existence and national character may unite in autonomous regional unions, ruled by the local Congress of the Soviets and their executive organs.

These autonomous regional unions participate in the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic upon the basis of a federation.

The supreme power of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic belongs to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and, in periods between the convocation of the Congress, to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

For the purpose of securing to the toilers real freedom of conscience, the church is to be separated from the state and the school from the church, and the right of religious and anti-religious propaganda is accorded to every citizen.

Art 14

For the purpose of securing the freedom of expression to the toiling masses, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic abolishes all dependence of the press upon capital, and turns over to the working people and the poorest peasantry all technical and material means of publication of newspapers, pamphlets, books, etc., and guarantees their free circulation throughout the country.

For the purpose of enabling the workers to hold free meetings, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic offers to the working class and to the poorest peasantry furnished halls, and takes care of their heating and lighting appliances.

The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, having crushed the economic and political power of the propertied classes and having thus abolished all obstacles which interfered with the freedom of organization and action of the workers and peasants, offers assistance, material and other, to the workers and the poorest peasantry in their effort to unite and organize.

For the purpose of guaranteeing to the workers real access to knowledge, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic sets itself the task of furnishing full and general free education to the workers and the poorest peasantry.

Art 18

The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic considers work the duty of every citizen of the Republic, and proclaims as its motto: "He shall not eat who does not work."

For the purpose of defending the victory of the great peasants' and workers' revolution, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic recognizes the duty of all citizens of the Republic to come to the defense of their Socialist Fatherland, and it, therefore, introduces universal military training. The honor of defending the revolution with arms is given only to the toilers, and the non-toiling elements are charged with the performance of other military duties.

In consequence of the solidarity of the toilers of all nations, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic grants all political rights of Russian citizens to foreigners who live in the territory of the Russian Republic and are engaged in toil and who belong to the toiling class. The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic also recognizes the right of local Soviets to grant citizenship to such foreigners without complicated formality.

The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic offers shelter to all foreigners who seek refuge from political or religious persecution.

The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, recognizing equal rights of all citizens, irrespective of their racial or national connections, proclaims all privileges on this ground, as well as of national minorities, to be in contradiction with the fundamental laws of the Republic.

Art 23

Being guided by the interests of the working class as a whole, the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic deprives all individuals and groups of individuals of rights which could be utilized by them to the detriment of the Socialist Revolution.

SECTION III. CONSTRUCTION OF THE SOVIET POWER

A. Organization of the Central Power

Chapter Six. The All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Cossacks', and Red Army Deputies

The All-Russian Congress of Soviets is the supreme power of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.

Art 25

The All-Russian Congress of Soviets is composed of representatives of urban Soviets (one delegate for 25,000 voters), and of representatives of the provincial (Gubernia) congresses of Soviets (one delegate for 125,000 inhabitants).

Note 1

In case the Provincial Congress is not called before the All-Russian Congress is convoked, delegates for the latter are sent directly from the county (Ouezd or Uyezd) Congress.

Note 2

In case the Regional (Oblast) Congress is convoked indirectly, previous to the convocation of the All-Russian Congress, delegates for the latter may be sent by the Regional Congress.

Art 26

The All-Russian Congress is convoked by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee at least twice a year.

A special All-Russian Congress is convoked by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee upon its own initiative, or upon the request of local Soviets having not less than one-third of the entire population of the Republic.

Art 28

The All-Russian Congress elects an All-Russian Central Executive Committee of not more than 200 members.

Art 29

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee is entirely responsible to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.

In the periods between the convocation of the Congresses, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee is the supreme power of the Republic.

Chapter Seven. The All-Russian Central Executive Committee

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee is the supreme legislative, executive, and controlling organ of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.

Art 32

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee directs in a general way the activity of the Workers' and Peasants' government and of all organs of the Soviet authority in the country, and it coordinates and regulates the operation of the Soviet constitution and of the resolutions of the All-Russian Congresses and of the central organs of the Soviet power.

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee considers and enacts all measures and proposals introduced by the Soviet of People's Commissars or by the various departments, and it also issues its own decrees and regulations.

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee convokes the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, at which time the Executive Committee reports on its activity and on general questions.

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee forms a Council of People's Commissars for the purpose of general management of the affairs of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, and it also forms departments (People's Commissariats) for the purpose of conducting various branches.

Art 36

The members of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee work in the various departments (People's Commissariats) or execute special orders of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Chapter Eight. The Council of People's Commissars

Art 37

The Council of People's Commissars is entrusted with the general management of the affairs of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.

For the accomplishment of this task the Council of People's Commissars issues decrees, resolutions, orders, and, in general, takes all steps necessary for the proper and rapid conduct of government affairs.

Art 39

The Council of People's Commissars notifies immediately the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of all its orders and resolutions.

The All-Russian Central Executive Committee has the right to revoke or suspend all orders and resolutions of the Council of People's Commissars.

All orders and resolutions of the Council of People's Commissars of great political significance are referred for consideration and final approval to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Note

Measures requiring immediate execution may be enacted directly by the Council of People's Commissars.

Art 42

The members of the Council of People's Commissars stand at the head of the various People's Commissariats.

Art 43

There are seventeen People's Commissars:

1. Foreign Affairs;

2. Army;

3. Navy;

4. Interior;

5. Justice;

6. Labor;

7. Social Welfare;

8. Education;

9. Post and Telegraph;

10. National Affairs;

11. Finances;

12. Ways of Communication;

13. Agriculture;

14. Commerce and Industry;

15. National Supplies;

16. State Control;

17. Supreme Soviet of National Economy;

18. Public Health.

Art 44

Every commissar has a College (committee) of which he is the president, and the members of which are appointed by the Council of People's Commissars.

Art 45

A People's Commissar has the individual right to decide on all questions under the jurisdiction of his commissariat, and he is to report on his decision to the College. If the College does not agree with the commissar on some decisions, the former may, without stopping the execution of the decision, complain of it to the executive members of the Council of People's Commissars or to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Individual members of the College have this right also.

Art 46

The Council of People's Commissars is entirely responsible to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Art 47

The People's Commissars and the Colleges of the People's Commissariats are entirely responsible to the Council of People's Commissars and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Art 48

The title of People's Commissar belongs only to the members of the Council of People's Commissars, which is in charge of general affairs of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, and it cannot be used by any other representative of the Soviet power, either central of local.

Chapter Nine. Affairs In The Jurisdiction Of The All-Russian Congress And The All-Russian Central Executive Committee

Art 49

The All-Russian Congress and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee deal with the questions of state, such as:

1. Ratification and amendment of the Constitution of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

2. General direction of the entire interior and foreign policy of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

3. Establishing and changing boundaries, also ceding territory belonging to the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

4. Establishing boundaries for regional soviet unions belonging to the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, also settling disputes among them;

5. Admission of new members to the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, and recognition of the secession of any parts of it;

6. The general administrative division of the territory of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic and the approval of regional unions;

7. Establishing and changing weights, measures, and money denominations in the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

8. Foreign relations, declaration of war, and ratification of peace treaties;

9. Making loans, signing commercial treaties and financial agreements;

10. Working out a basis and a general plan for the national economy and for its various branches in the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

11. Approval of the budget of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic;

12. Levying taxes and establishing the duties of citizens to the state;

13. Establishing the bases for the organization of armed forces;

14. State legislation, judicial organization and procedure, civil and criminal legislation, etc.;

15. Appointment and dismissal of the individual People's Commissars or the entire council, also approval of the president of the Council of People's Commissars;

16. Granting and cancelling Russian citizenship and fixing rights of foreigners;

17. The right to declare individual and general amnesty.

Art 50

Besides the above-mentioned questions, the All-Russian Congress and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee have charge of all other affairs which, according to their decision, require their attention.

Art 51

The following questions are solely under the jurisdiction of the All-Russian Congress:

1. Ratification and amendment of the fundamental principles of the Soviet constitution.

2. Ratification of peace treaties.

The decision of questions indicated in Paragraphs 3 and 8 of Article 49 may be made by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee only in case it is impossible to convoke the Congress.

B. Organization of Local Soviets

Chapter Ten. The Congresses of the Soviets

Art 53

Congresses of Soviets are composed as follows:

1. Regional: of representatives of the urban and county Soviets, one representative for 25,000 inhabitants of the county, and one representative for 5,000 voters of the cities—but not more than 500 representatives for the entire region—or of representatives of the provincial Congresses, chosen on the same basis, if such a Congress meets before the regional Congress.

2. Provincial (Gubernia): of representatives of urban and rural (Volost) Soviets, one representative for 10,000 inhabitants from the rural districts, and one representative for 2,000 voters in the city; altogether not more than 300 representatives for the entire province. In case the county Congress meets before the provincial, election takes place on the same basis, but by the county Congress instead of the rural.

3. County: of representatives of rural Soviets, one delegate for each 1,000 inhabitants, but not more than 300 delegates for the entire county.

4. Rural (Volost): of representatives of all village Soviets in the Volost, one delegate for ten members of the Soviet.

Note 1

Representatives of urban Soviets which have a population of not more than 10,000 persons participate in the county Congress; village Soviets of districts of less than 1,000 inhabitants unite for the purpose of electing delegates to the county Congress.

Note 2

Rural Soviets of less than ten members send one delegate to the rural (Volost) Congress.

Art 54

Congresses of the Soviets are convoked by the respective Executive Committees upon their own initiative, or upon request of local Soviets comprising not less than one-third of the entire population of the given district. In any case they are convoked at least twice a year for regions, every three months for provinces and counties, and once a month for rural districts.

Art 55

Every Congress of Soviets (regional, provincial, county, and rural) elects its Executive organ—an Executive Committee the membership of which shall not exceed:

1. for regions and provinces, 25;

2. for a county, 20;

3. for a rural district, 10.

The Executive Committee is responsible to the Congress which elected it.

Art 56

In the boundaries of the respective territories the Congress is the supreme power; during intervals between the convocations of the Congress, the Executive Committee is the supreme power.

Chapter Eleven. The Soviet of Deputies

Art 57

Soviets of Deputies are formed:

1. In cities, one deputy for each 1,000 inhabitants; the total to be not less than 50 and not more than 1,000 members.

2. All other settlements (towns, villages, hamlets, etc.) of less than 10,000 inhabitants, one deputy for each 100 inhabitants; the total to be not less than 3 and not more than 60 deputies for each settlement.

Term of the deputy, three months.

Note

In small rural sections, whenever possible, all questions shall be decided at general meetings of voters.

Art 58

The Soviet of Deputies elects an Executive Committee to deal with current affairs; not more than 6 members for rural districts, one for every 60 members of the Soviets of cities, but not more than 16 and not less than 3 in the aggregate (Petrograd and Moscow not more than 40). The Executive Committee is entirely responsible to the Soviet which elected it.

Art 59

The Soviet of Deputies is convoked by the Executive Committee upon it's own initiative, or upon the request of not less than one-half of the membership of the Soviet; in any case at least once a week in cities, and twice a week in rural sections.

Art 60

Within its jurisdiction the Soviet, and in cases mentioned in Paragraph 57, Note, the meeting of the voters, is the supreme power in the given district.

Chapter Twelve. Jurisdiction of the local organs of the Soviets

Art 61

Regional, provincial, county, and rural organs of the Soviet power and also the Soviets of Deputies have to perform the following duties:

1. Carry out all orders of the respective higher organs of the Soviet power.

2. Take all steps towards raising the cultural and economic standard of the given territory.

3. Decide all questions of local importance within their respective territory.

4. Coordinate all Soviet activity in their respective territory.

Art 62

The Congresses of Soviets and their Executive Committees have the right to control the activity of the local Soviets (i. e., the regional Congress controls all Soviets of the respective regions; the provincial, of the respective province, with the exception of the urban Soviets, etc.); and the regional and provincial Congresses and their Executive Committees in addition have the right to overrule the decisions of the Soviets of their districts, giving notice in important cases to the central Soviet authority.

Art 63

For the purpose of performing their duties, the local Soviets, rural and urban, and the Executive Committees form sections respectively.

SECTION IV. THE RIGHT TO VOTE

Chapter Thirteen

The right to vote and to be elected to the Soviets is enjoyed by the following citizens, irrespective of religion, nationality, domicile, etc., of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, of both sexes, who shall have completed their eighteenth year by the day of election:

1. All who have acquired the means of living through labor that is productive and useful to society, and also persons engaged in housekeeping, which enables the former to do productive work, i. e., laborers and employees of all classes who are employed in industry, trade, agriculture, etc.; and peasants and Cossack agricultural laborers who employ no help for the purpose of making profits.

2. Soldiers of the army and navy of the Soviets.

3. Citizens of the two preceding categories who have to any degree lost their capacity to work.

Note 1

Local Soviets may, upon approval of the central power, lower the age standard mentioned herein.

Note 2

Non-citizens mentioned in Paragraph 20 (Article Two, Chapter 5) have the right to vote.

The following persons enjoy neither the right to vote nor the right to be voted for, even though they belong to one of the categories enumerated above, namely:

1. Persons who employ hired labor in order to obtain from it an increase in profits.

2. Persons who have an income without doing any work, such as interest from capital, receipts from property, etc.

3. Private merchants, trade and commercial brokers.

4. Monks and clergy of all denominations.

5. Employees and agents of the former police, the gendarme corps, and the Okhrana [Czar’s secret service], also members of the former reigning dynasty.

6. Persons who have in legal form been declared demented or mentally deficient, and also persons under guardianship.

7. Persons who have been deprived by a Soviet of their rights of citizenship because of selfish or dishonorable offenses, for the period fixed by the sentence.

Chapter Fourteen. Elections

Elections are conducted according to custom on days fixed by the local Soviets.

Election takes place in the presence of an electoral committee and the representative of the local Soviet.

In case the representative of the Soviet cannot be present for valid causes, the chairman of the electoral committee takes his place, and in case the latter is absent, the chairman of the election meeting replaces him.

Minutes of the proceedings and results of elections are to be compiled and signed by the members of the electoral committee and the representative of the Soviet.

Art 70

Detailed instructions regarding the election proceedings and the participation in them of professional and other workers' organizations are to be issued by the local Soviets, according to the instructions of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Chapter Fifteen. The checking and cancellation of elections and recall of the deputies

Art 71

The respective Soviets receive all the records of the proceedings of the election.

The Soviet appoints a commission to verify the elections.

This commission reports on the results to the Soviets.

Art 74

The Soviet decides the question when there is doubt as to which candidate is elected.

Art 75

The Soviet announces a new election if the election of one candidate or another cannot be determined.

Art 76

If an election was irregularly carried on in its entirety, it may be declared void by a higher Soviet authority.

The highest authority in relation to questions of elections is the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.

Voters who have sent a deputy to the Soviet have the right to recall him, and to have a new election, according to general provisions.

SECTION V. THE BUDGET

Chapter Sixteen

The financial policy of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic in the present transition period of dictatorship of the proletariat, facilitates the fundamental purpose of expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the preparation of conditions necessary for the equality of all citizens of Russia in the production and distribution of wealth. To this end it sets forth as its task the supplying of the organs of the Soviet power with all necessary funds for local and state needs of the Soviet Republic, without regard to private property rights.

Art 80

The state expenditure and income of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic are combined in the state budget.

The All-Russian Congress of Soviets or the All-Russian Central Executive Committee determine what matters of income and taxation shall go to the state budget and what shall go to the local Soviets; they also set the limits of taxes.

The Soviets levy taxes only for the local needs. The state needs are covered by the funds of the state treasury.

Art 83

No expenditure out of the state treasury not set forth in the budget of income and expense shall be made without a special order of the central power.

The local Soviets shall receive credits from the proper People's Commissars out of the state treasury, for the purpose of making expenditures for general state needs.

Art 85

All credits allotted to the Soviets from the state treasury, and also credits approved for local needs, must be expended according to the estimates, and cannot be used for any other purposes without a special order of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Soviet of People's Commissars.

Local Soviets draw up semi-annual and annual estimates of income and expenditure for local needs. The estimates of urban and rural Soviets participating in county congresses, and also the estimates of the county organs of the Soviet power, are to be approved by provincial and regional congresses or by their executive committees; the estimates of the urban, provincial, and regional organs of the Soviets are to be approved by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars.

Art 87

The Soviets may ask for additional credits from the respective People's Commissariats for expenditures not set forth in the estimate, or where the allotted sum is insufficient.

Art 88

In case of an insufficiency of local funds for local needs, the necessary subsidy may be obtained from the state treasury by applying to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee or the Council of People's Commissars.

SECTION VI. THE COAT OF ARMS AND FLAG OF THE RUSSIAN SOCIALIST FEDERATED SOVIET REPUBLIC

Chapter Seventeen

The coat of arms of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic consists of a red background on which a golden scythe and a hammer are placed (crosswise, handles downward) in sun-rays and surrounded by a wreath, inscribed: Russian Socialist Soviet Federated Republic Workers of the World, Unite!

Art 90

The commercial, naval and army flag of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic consists of a red cloth, in the left corner of which (on top, near the pole) there are in golden characters the letters R. S. F. S. R., or the inscription: Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.