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Nihilist “Petition of Rights."

The Executive Committee of the Nihilists has, according to the Times correspondent at Berlin, issued two proclamations bearing date March 20th and 22nd respectively, one addressed to Europe and the other to the* Czar, The latter, after indulging in an historical retrospect of the internecine struggle between the people and; arbitary power, which lately reached such an appalling climax, thus proceeds : Yes, your Majesty, do not be deceived by the words of flatterers and parasites; regicide is popular in Russia. From such a position there are only two outlets —either the inevitable revolution, which cannot be obviated by capital punishment, or voluntary compliance with the will of the people on the part of ; the Government Inspired, therefore, by the desire to conserve the invests of the country, to prevent a useless destruction of forces, and to starve off the frightful misery which is usually the accompaniment of the revolution, the Executive Committees turn to your Majesty, with the counsel to choose the second way. Be sure, Sire, that as soon as the supreme power ceases to act arbitarily and only thinks of' yielding to the injunctions of conscience . and recognising the rights of the people, you can safely dismiss the spies that do your Government harm, disband your personal escort, and burn your scaffolds. Then also would the Excutive Committee, of its own accord, give over its activity and disperse the forces gathered round it, to devote itself to the national welfare and progress. The peaceful conflict of ideas would then take the place of acts of violence, which are much 'more distasteful to us than to your servants, and which are only the results of sad necessity. We, therefore, turn to your Majesty, casting aside every prejudice, and stifling all the distrust created by centuries of enduring misrule. We forget that you are the representative of mere force, which has so often worked the nation woe; we turn-to you with hope that feelings of personal bitterness in you will not quench the recognition of your duties and the desire of truth. The exasperation on our side is just as great. You have lost a father, but we have tost, not only fathers, but also brothers, wives, children, and property. But we are ready to repress personal feeling when the weal of Russia is at stake, and we expect the same of you. We impose no conditions —those which are necesary to substitute peaceful labor for revolutionary agitation were created by history, not by us. We do not impose these conditions, we merely recall them to mind, and in our opinion, they are two— (1) A general amnesty of all previous political offenders, for they were no criminals, but mere executors of a hard civic duty; (2) the convocation of representatives of all the Russian people for the revision and reform of the private laws of the State according to the will of the nation. We think it necessary, however, to remind you that the sanctioning of supreme power by the popular will can only be rendered valid by thoroughly free elections, held in the following manner:— (1) Representatives of all classes and conditions without exception, in.proporlion to the population ; (2) no restrictions to be laid on electors; and electioneering to be completely unshackled, and the Government, therefore, to grant as follows ;—Full liberty of the Press; full freedom of speech; full right of public meeting; and full freedom of election programme. These are the only means of restoring Russia • to the path of peaceful progress., We therefore solemnly declare, in the face of the Fatherland and the old world, that our party will cheerfully submit in all respects to the decisions of the National Assembly if it be convoked under the observance of the above conditions, and, further, that we shall never be guilty of any act of violence against the measures of a Government created by this popular Parliament. So, therefore, your Majesty decide. You have two ways before ypu, and it is for you to choose which you will take. We can only pray that your conscience and wisdom will enable you to decide for the welfare of Russia and as. becomes your own dignity and your duty to the Fatherland.

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Bibliographic details

Nihilist “Petition of Rights.", Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 374, 20 June 1881

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Nihilist “Petition of Rights." Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 374, 20 June 1881