Bill on the Equality of Nations and the Safeguarding of the Rights of National Minorities

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 6 May 1914


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Written after May 6 (19), 1914
Published: First published in 1937 in Lenin Miscellany XXX. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 281-283.

Bill on the Equality of Nations and the Safeguarding of the Rights of National Minorities was drafted by Lenin for introduction to the Fourth Duma by the Bolshevik group.

The plan of the Bill was outlined in a letter to S. 0. Shaumian, dated May 6 (19), 1914, from Lenin who attached special importance to the introduction of this Bill in the Duma. “In this way”, he wrote, “I believe we can popularly explain the stupidity of cultural-national autonomy and crush the votaries of this folly once for all.”

The Bill was not introduced.

1. The boundaries of Russia’s administrative divisions, rural and urban (villages, volosts, uyezds, gubernias, parts and sections of towns, suburbs, etc.), shall be re vised on the basis of a register of present-day economic conditions and the national composition of the population.

2. This register shall be made by commissions elected by the local population on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot with proportional representation; national minorities too small (under proportional representation) to elect one commission member shall elect a commission member with a consultative voice.

3. The new boundaries shall be endorsed by the central parliament of the country.

4. Local self-government shall be introduced in all areas of the country without exception, on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot with proportional representation; areas with specific geographical, living or economic conditions or a special national composition of the population shall have the right to form autonomous regions with autonomous regional Diets.

5. The limits of jurisdiction exercised by the autonomous Diets and local self-governing bodies shall be determined by the central parliament of the country.

6. All nations in the state are absolutely equal, and all privileges enjoyed by any one nation or any one language are held to be inadmissible and anti-constitutional.

7. The local self-governing bodies and autonomous Diets shall determine the language in which business is to be conducted by state and public establishments in a given area or region, all national minorities having the right to demand absolute safeguards for their language on the basis of the principle of equality, for example, the right to receive replies from state and public establishments in the language in which they are addressed, etc. Measures by Zemstvos, towns, etc., which infringe the equality of languages enjoyed by the national minorities in financial, administrative, legal and all other fields, shall be considered non-valid and subject to repeal on a protest filed by any citizen of the state, regardless of domicile.

8. Each self-governing unit of the state, rural and urban, shall elect, on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot with proportional representation, boards of education to take care, wholly and autonomously, of expenditures on all the cultural and educational needs of the population subject to the control and management of the town and Zemstvo bodies.

9. In territorial units with a mixed population the number of members on the boards of education shall not be less than twenty. This number (20) may be increased by order of the self-governing bodies and autonomous Diets. Areas shall be considered as having a mixed population where a national minority constitutes up to five per cent of the population.

10. Every national minority of a given self-governing unit that is too small to elect, under proportional representation, one member of the board of education shall be entitled to elect a member with a consultative voice.

11. The proportional share of the funds expended on the cultural and educational needs of the national minorities in a given area shall not be less than the proportional share of the national minorities in the whole population of the given area.

12. A census of the population, with due account of the native language of citizens, shall be carried out every ten years throughout the state, and every five years in regions and areas with a mixed population.

13. All measures by boards of education which in any way infringe the complete equality of nations and languages of the local population or the proportionality of expenditures on cultural and educational needs in conformity with the share of the national minorities in the population, shall be considered non-valid and subject to repeal on a protest of any citizen of the state, regardless of domicile.