Draft Decision for CPC on the Irregular Actions of People’s Commissar for Justice I. Z. Steinberg and Member of the Board of the People’s Commissariat for Justice V. A. Karelin

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This draft was written by Lenin in connection with the discussion of a statement by F. E. Dzerzhinsky, Chairman of the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission (Veebeka), at a meeting of the CPC on December 19, 1917 (January 1, 1918). Dzerzhinsky protested against the action of I. Z. Steinberg, People’s Commissar for Justice, and V. A. Karelin, member of the Board of the People’s Commissariat for Justice, both of them Left S.R.s.

The evening before, at a meeting of the CPC, Lenin received a report that the Vecheka had arrested a group of members of the counter-revolutionary Constituent Assembly Defence Union on the premises of the Free Economic Society, during an. illegal attempt on their part, made in defiance of the decree of the CPC, to open a “session” of the Constituent Assembly. The CPC had decided to detain the arrested men in custody until their identity was established. Steinberg and Karelin visited the scene, but instead of carrying out the decision of the CPC they released all the arrested persons without even notifying the Veeheka. Their action ran counter to the agreement between the Central Committees of the Bolsheviks and the Left S.R.s for conducting a common line in the CPC and was a violation of the obligation to pursue a Soviet policy which the Left S.R.s had taken upon themselves when joining the CPC

The CPC endorsed the draft resolution written by Lenin.

The Council of People’s Commissars considers that no changes in the decisions of the Dzerzhinsky Commission or any other commission appointed by the Soviets[1] are permissible other than by way of appeal to the Council of People’s Commissars, and on no account by way of personal order of the Commissar for Justice.

The Council of People’s Commissars considers further that the act of comrades Steinberg and Karelin, who released the arrested men on the night of 18.XII was illegal both in form and substance, since it contravened not only the privileges of the Dzerzhinsky Commission but the direct decision of the Council of People’s Commissars adopted on the evening of 18.XII which ordered the arrested men to be detained for identification.


  1. The Dzerzhinsky Commission (Vecheka)—the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage; the other commissions referred to were: the Committee of Inquiry of the Petrograd Soviet, the Naval Committee of Inquiry and the Committee for Combating Drunken Riots.
  2. This document was also signed by J. V. Stalin.—Ed.] —Lenin