Tsarist Russia was a freer current. Actually there
In the centenary year of the revolution, many are discussing on how was Russia under the last Tsar. This is a discussion revived after the book of Michael Sigara “the Empire must die” and his speech at the St. Petersburg international cultural forum. In particular, they discussed the idea that tsarist Russia was a freer current. Historian and journalist Lev Lurie on paragraphs explained, “the Medusa”, why Russia under Nicholas II, should not idealize.
Freedom of Assembly in Czarist Russia were extremely limited. Any Assembly could be dissolved at the request of the police. Rallies were forbidden. If they were going, they were dispersed by Cossacks with whips. But, as I recall, from 1907 to 1917 no one protested, except for student gatherings. A procession of workers to the administration in Bodaybo in 1912 ended with the execution procession — the famous “Lena massacre” (according to various estimates, were killed from 150 to 270 people — approx. “Medusa”).
Freedom of speech in Russia after 1905 was certainly more than before. But any kind of personal insults of the Emperor and his family were punished with imprisonment. Such cases often led to the closure of print publications and many magazines, opened in 1905 in the Wake of freedom, to 1907 has already been covered.
Pavel eliseevich Shchegolev, editor of the magazine “Past”, served for publishing material praising the revolutionary movement.
The privacy of correspondence was not respected. There was a so-called “black Cabinet”, which was engaged in the perusal without any court decision. Regarding political figures, this practice was used very widely. Letters delivered from the post office to the police in a special room, where trained officials carefully opened them, read the contents, made notes, then put the letter back, closed so that the recipient doesn’t suspect anything and sent to the address. Of course, today in Russia is often used wiretapping, but it requires at least the formal permission of the court.
The jury was independent. But political Affairs since the time of Vera Zasulich in public meetings was not considered. These processes occurred at once or in the high court, in Senate or — especially in the days of [Prime Minister Peter] Stolypin in the military district, military field courts, where the fate of man was decided by a group of officers. These courts were guided by the law, but the process proceeded very quickly and the evidence base is often not there. The execution of an innocent person was quite a common history in that period.
Political prisoners have been much more than now. Just don’t compare. In Russia between 1907 and 1914 years was 50 thousand political prisoners and exiles. Prison was not enough, so built a new so-called Stolypin Central — among them Shlisselburg, Vladimir, and, most frightening, Orlowski. Political prisoners put it on politically articles, not fictional criminal — that tsarist Russia is different from the present.