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"Black block": unfortunate attempt of consolidation of the right-wing parliamentary groups in 1915

a. A. Ivanov


Work is presented by department of the Russian history the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia.

Article is devoted to attempts of association of the right range of the State Duma and State Council in the Conservative ("Black") block designed to resist to the Progressive block of parliamentary liberals. On the basis of versatile sources and modern research literature in work an attempt of detailed reconstruction of unfortunate efforts of blocking right and nationalists in 1915 is made, insuperable contradictions between them are shown, internal problems of the specified parliamentary groups are opened, the reasons of a failure of the monarchic block are explained. A number of the materials presented in the publication for the first time is introduced for scientific use.

A. Ivanov



The article is devoted to the attempts of the right wing of the State Duma and the State Council to unite into the Conservative (& #34; Black") coalition, called to oppose the Progressive block of parliamentary liberals. Basing on the different sources and modern history literature, this work presents an attempt to reconstruct the unsuccessful efforts to unite the right wing and the nationalists in 1915. The article also shows the insuperable contradictions between them, finds out the inner problems of the above-mentioned parliamentary groups and explains the reasons for the monarchal bloc&s failure. The number of materials presented in this publication is introduced into the scientific sphere for the first time.

Association of the liberal opposition in the State Duma and the State Council in the second half of 1915 in the Progressive block demanding from autocratic power "government of public trust" and a number of reforms recovered much the activity of the far-right which died away in the years of World War I. After long calm not without assistance of Department of police over the country congresses of monarchists were organized, attempts to reconciliation between the monarchic organizations conflicting with each other (the letter of the chairman of fraction right S.V. Levasheva to the leader of the All-Russian Dubrovinsky union of the Russian people A.I. Dubrovin [17, page 483-484], since 1911/12 which was at enmity with the chernosotenny organizations recognizing work in parliament is indicative in this regard) with the purpose to oppose to the Progressive block monarchic, guarding, the so-called "Black block" became.

In August, 1915 (i.e. along with emergence of the Progressive block) on the sidelines of the State Duma the rumor about emergence of the Conservative block was strongly spread. "We did not manage to finish our negotiations yet, - the leader of cadet party P.N. Milyukov remembered, - as began to speak contrary to progressive - about & #34; black блоке" pointing to the State Council as a seat of this black block" [16, page 316].

Really, the Utro Rossii newspaper reported already on August 12 that on the apartment of the leader of right-wing group of the State Council P.N. Durnovo three meetings at which there were representatives from the right associations of both chambers of the Russian parliament took place (on August 11 confidential meetings of representatives of the liberal groups of the State Council with members of the liberal fractions of the State Duma about creation of the Progressive block also began). Issues of a unification of all conservative forces, of creation of the right office led by I.G. Shcheglovitov and about every possible fight against the Progressive block [20, 12 av-were discussed at these meetings, according to the bourgeois newspaper, right

it is dense]. According to the report of the Moscow security office on a meeting at the beginning of September of representatives of the territorial and city unions, the last were also much concerned by allegedly developed "Black block" which part they were "germanofilsky court military party, minority of Council of ministers acting through [I.L.] Goremykina and [A.N.] of Hvostov and the right wings of both legislative houses", seeking for "usurpation" of the government [3, page 47].

According to other liberal newspaper - "Exchange sheets", as initiators of association of conservative forces of the Duma and Council P.N. Durnovo, I.G. Shcheglovi-tov (spoke on behalf of right-wing group of the State Council), N.E. Markov (representing the Duma fraction of right) and P.N. Balashev (the leader of the Duma fraction of nationalists and moderately right) [on August 2, 10]. During the meetings it was decided to revive experience of cooperation right the III State Duma and to create Informative bureau for coordination of actions which would be made by representatives of four parliamentary associations: right-wing group and group of the right center ("neydgartovets") in the State Council and fraction of the nationalists, right with fraction, and moderately right in the State Duma.

During preliminary consultations the right wing of the State Duma agreed with the idea of leaders of right-wing group of the State Council, but provided that each of groups will keep the full independence, having suggested to limit bureau of the Conservative block only to informative functions and to create the body giving the chance quickly to coordinate the actions [12, page 60-64].

On August 9 (in the same day there took place the private meeting of the deputy oppositionists, at which the agreement of the liberal Duma fractions on creation of the Progressive block) the leader of the Russian nationalists P.N. Balashev was reached (which, "Exchange sheets" considered even "the inventor of the Black block" [on August 2, 12]) convened a meeting of the fraction at which ozvu-

chit the idea of closer rapprochement with the far-right for counteraction to the block of liberals. At the same time deserves attention that the Ba-lashev who was drawn towards the right monarchists nevertheless made very essential reservation, addressing members of the fraction. Asking fraction to approve its steps on rapprochement with a far-right wing, Balashev noted that "business goes not about the block, and only about the movement to the agreement since and after formation of informative bureau, each fraction will keep the independence" [on August 2, 10]. Nevertheless these words designed to bring calm could not keep fraction of nationalists from outlined in it raskola*. If P.A. Safonov, K.I. Grigorovich-Barsky, D.N. Chikha-chev, A.N. Motovilov, N.A. Zhilin, P.A. Pokrovsky and some other supported the leader, then some other the bright deputy nationalists (A.I. Savenko, V.A. Bob-rinsky, K.N. Rudich, K.E. Suvchinsky, etc.) acted against. As the historian E.E. Novikova specifies, at the same meeting of fraction the resolution assuming creation of joint bureau from nationalists, group of the center of P.N. Krupen-skogo and Octobrists was offered [12, page 60].

To understand motivation of that and other party, we will give the positions of two deputy nationalists who acted as pros and cons of the agreement with the Black Hundreds stated by "Exchange sheets". "We endure time extremely disturbing and fraught with uncertainty now; speak about change of course more and more. State] the thought is divided into two camps - conservative, defending preservation of the existing system, and progressive, clearly seeking for change of this system and for establishment of the responsible ministry; formation of the responsible ministry means that Russia falls under Kerensky' power. In so hard time we cannot be lonely; and since the program of our party does not allow the responsible ministry and in general change of the political system, we need - to go one with right", - said on

meeting of fraction deputy P.A. Safonov [on August 2, 10].

In turn the opponent of a course Bala-sheva towards rapprochement with the far-right nationalist A.I. Savenko parried: "All that nowadays endures our fatherland has to force us to be blocked on the left - with the center and Octobrists, but not to the right. We are frightened by the crash of the political system here, but now business goes not about it, and about that an amicable unification of the country and national representation to finish absolute war & lt;...> I against Kerensky, but I as well and against Markovy the 2nd. I prefer golden mean of moderation. We cannot remain lonely, but for this purpose we have to be blocked not with extreme right at all. Education & #34; informative бюро" the country correctly will understand as our constant block with the far-right" [on August 2, 10] **.

Therefore on August 13 "Morning of Russia" hurried to please the readers with the message that "a failure & #34; black блока" it is already planned, and balashevets begin to beat a retreat. They conduct negotiations with representatives of the left nationalists who began to collect signatures for the statement for an exit from fraction on that they remained. The last stipulate stay in fraction - retirement of all council of fraction together with P.N. Balashev" [on August 20, 13]. In the statement which the newspaper mentions, it was said that Balashev's aspiration to be blocked with the far-right "at simultaneous total absence of the agreement with bodies of moderate political groups in both legislative institutions", is "to inappropriate political views and the program of the national union, shift of party to the right" [18, page 282]. Supporters of a position of A.I. Savenko in fraction of nationalists called Balashev's aspiration to unite with right "a harmful and dangerous step", and Savenko with condemnation noted that politician Balashev began to govern promptly after P.A. Stolypin's death, and led to the fact that the party "found the landing place in embraces of by Durnovo, Shcheglovi-

tova, Markov the 2nd and Zamyslovsky" [on August 20, 16]. The right nationalists, trying to persuade to keep the companions on fraction integrity of the last, agreed to resignation of council, but it did not satisfy left, demanded "as a guarantee" Balashev's refusal of a deputy rank [18, page 282].

As a result of August 13, 1915 the fraction of nationalists broke up, and the group dissatisfied with Balashev's policy which made over time 36 deputies organized the independent fraction of "progressive nationalists" which adjoined opposition Progressive bloc.

The idea of "The black block" also did not get support in group of the right center of the State Council. Her leader A.B. Neydgart (P.A. Stolypin's brother-in-law, the nationalist on the political views), according to the member of the group V.M. Andreevsky, on his question of "The black block" twisted that "such block does not exist and no negotiations on the conclusion of the block of any groups were conducted" [on August 2, 12]. However, at the same time Neyd-gart specified that each certain member of the group has full authority to enter personal agreements with whom he finds necessary.

Serious internal contradictions were also in parliamentary groups of the far-right supporting association of conservative forces. So, in right-wing group of the State Council which leader P.N. Durnovo was considered the main ideologist of the organized "Black block" during negotiations on consolidation with other parliamentary associations, swayings were outlined. A part of right-wing group demanded from the presidium of change of course of group policy and more goodwill to the State Duma, and after refusal of the management to meet these requirements, said that it will not support the association based on far-right installations. As a result several members of the State Council left the right small group, having passed into group of the right center (S.I. Zubchaninov, V.I. Karpov, N.I. Klunnikov, A.P. Nadezhdin, A.N. Naumov (in the beginning passed into a circle nonparty

associations), Ya.N. Ofrosimov, A.M. Eri-stov), circle of nonparty association (A.G. Bulygin) [4, page 324-325]. At the same time Bu-lygin specified that he "does not wish to submit to group discipline owing to which it is necessary to vote against projects and the Duma and the government" [12, page 60].

To hold group right from further disintegration, P.N. Durnovo made the forced decision to refuse leadership, having handed over the reins to the count A.A. Bob-rinskomu, "as to the person to more flexible in the sense of beliefs" [12, page 60]. "The published data on the split happening in our group, unfortunately, are absolutely right, - A.A. Bobrinsky in an interview to the liberal newspaper noted. - I speak - with regret because I sincerely feel sorry about an exit from group of dear territorial figures of Karpov, Ofrosimov, etc. especially as views of these persons are very close to my own. My election should be considered as a celebration of moderately right-wing group allowing need of political concessions to society and representatives of other currents. Supporters of my views, and them, obviously, the majority, time I am elected the chairman, - defined the line of my behavior, as well as all sincerely loving the homeland and therefore allow inevitability of the known shift to the left. I will tell more, - that personally I consider this shift of our group so considerable to the left that on many questions between us and Milyukov there is no almost any difference. Mine and our group desire is in disseminating the rumors circulating in society and the press about existence some & #34; black блока" the national representation sapping under foundations. The black block exists only in imagination of correspondents and some members of the State Duma to which, obviously, this game is favorable to the purposes. On the contrary, we in return sought to adjust in every possible way work with representatives of the groups standing more to the left of us, and I personally asked that I was invited to meetings of the so-called Progressive block..." [on August 20, 25].

Certainly that the similar statement of the new chairman of right-wing group practically buried the idea of formation of the Conservative block. But it, as it turned out, was closer to most of members of right-wing group, than the course conducted by P.N. Durnovo. "Perhaps, in this shift there are more political insight and reasonableness, than sincere enthusiasm, it is more than mind, than soul, but the fact remains: the majority of the Soviet right Durnovo and Maklako-vykh does not divide irreconcilable orthodoxy..." - wrote "Morning of Russia" [on August 20, 25]. The newspaper welcomed "this significant & #34; shift влево"" also expressed genuine joy that "minority, the significant minority of the Soviet right makes opposition to the liberal government" [on August 20, 25].

It was quite confirmed by further events. After A.A. Bobrin-sky's "revelations", only one member of right-wing group, the adherent of views Durnovo the prince A.N. Lobanov-Rostovsky, declared the exit from group, having motivated the decision "too left" with the count's views. In the application directed to bureau of group, Lobanov-Rostovsky wrote that he cannot remain in the group which elected by the chairman of the person who "the compliance to a spirit of the age" agreed "to a possibility of creation at us the responsible ministry not before the Sovereign, and before legislative houses" and made group "not right". ". I saw that the group of right does not exist, & lt;...> that inevitably further movement of group in various & #34; political дебри"", - the prince complained [on August 20, 25]. However, already on September 19, 1915. Lobanov-Rostovsky addressed A.A. Bob-rinskomu with the new statement in which he called the leaving group right a mistake, recognized lack of disagreements at it with the course taken by the new head, allegedly, in the beginning to them misunderstood and asked to accept it back as a member of group, as was made.

Similar processes happened also in the Duma fraction of right. Even before war in

of fraction a number of serious disagreements between the peasantry and clergy was outlined, on the one hand, and representatives of the nobility - with another. So, on October 30, 1913 at the meeting of country deputies convened at the initiative of peasants progressionists, the right peasants said that they do not agree at all with that policy which is conducted in their gospoda fraction, but asked not to disclose their recognition as leaders of fraction right constantly frighten them by a possibility of dissolution of the Duma and threaten them with various personal repressions [8, page 141-146; 9, page 26-36]. Approximately situation in fraction of most of priests was same. In June, 1913 the representatives of clergy even wished to leave fraction, dissatisfied with "too autocratic behavior" of the leaders who "only ordered to vote for any given decisions, but never gave to the sofraktsioner opportunities to express on the substance of estimated resolutions". But then the "rebellious" clergy was stopped by the chief prosecutor of the Synod which expressed not in favor of split, having explained that the clergy serves the ideas, but not to persons and, besides, has to improve the presence customs of fraction and in spiritual sense to influence "mistaking, but faithful sons of church" [6, No. 7, page 20-21]. Similar separatist sentiments were observed also among some representatives of the nobility, developed into division of fraction into "the gone too far markovets" and "moderate hvostovets" [1, page 49] - i.e. supporters of the far-right informal leader of fraction right N.E. Markov and more moderate chairman of fraction A.N. Hvostov (Is more detailed about Markov and Hvostov's conflict: [7, page 195-196]). The first - "markovets" - stood on positions of full irreconcilability, considering that all their requirements have to be fulfilled and any compromises are impossible; the second - "hvostovets" - proved need of conciliatory tactics and cooperation "with all healthy forces" the State Duma, otherwise most the Duma will manage at all

without right and "will throw out them overboard" [6, No. 4-5, page 9]. As to convince N.E. Markov it was not succeeded to conduct more flexible course, in the same 1913. A.N. Hvostov together with the deputy P.A. Barachem filed to the secretary of fraction of nationalists Chikhachev a petition that they are the and their adherents making in fraction right independent moderate right-wing group would wish to leave the structure of the fraction and to join nationalists as they resolutely do not sympathize with process of self-killing which path they choose irreconcilably right [6, No. 4-5, page 7]. At the same time dissatisfied N.E. Markov's policy took about 45 people (considering that for the beginning of legislature of the IV State Duma in fraction right there were 64 persons). But then the leader of the Duma nationalists P.N. Balashev, "in view of the allied relations" warned about the developed precedent of leaders of the right wing, and the threatening fraction right split was prevented by a compromise: the fraction was left only by the most dissatisfied - P.A. Barach and A.P. Gorstkin who passed to nationalists. In the winter of 1914 the situation practically repeated. "In fraction of right the internal, threatening with open disintegration antagonism between peasants, on the one hand, priests - with another, and party leaders - with the third does not stop", - L.K. Kumanin reported [6, No. 11-12, page 19]. Only the beginning of World War I and need of united work for a while suspended destructive trends in fraction right (its disintegration happened at the end of November, 1916). But formation of the Progressive block and split in fraction of the Russian nationalists led to new swayings. So, priests I.M. Karavayev and S.V. Syrnev in 1915 left the right fraction and passed to progressive nationalists [19, stlb. 1213; On August 13, 19]. In the ranks of independent deputies there was soon also the former head of fraction A.N. Hvostov.

However, despite a failure of negotiations between the right-wing parliamentary groups and serious internal problems in them,

liberals continued to sound the alarm, being afraid that, after all, the platform for consolidation of conservative forces after all will be found. So, the edition of progressionists "Morning of Russia" in one of the publications agreed to the fact that the formed "Black block" is in practice... red since intends. to storm the power. "This two-chamber & #34; black блок" in essence nothing but block red & lt;...> This block, this quarter consent of groups of Durnovo, Neydgart, Markov and Balashev, is set even, apparently, by even more majestic, from the bureaucratic point of view, the purpose: he is ready to storm the most government power in its current structure, that power that gave itself & #34; обойти" went on & #34; уступки" to public forces. & lt;...> Representatives & #34; conservative мировоззрений" consider themselves exempted from a debt of obedience of this power and there are a revolt on it. & lt;...> Soul of it & #34; бунтарского" movements P.N. Durnovo, this Viy of the Russian reaction is." [on August 20, 13]. Explaining why the newspaper considers right, guarding the autocratic monarchy, "rebels" and "red reactionaries", "Morning of Russia" noted that unlike the European conservatives acting as guardians "what is" the Russians right are "& #34; охранителями" what was and what does not have return" [on August 20, 13]. Without feeling sorry for bright paints for the description still even of the block (the "black brotherhood of reaction" created for "manual, mean, secret labor") which is not created right, the edition frightened readers that its formation "will lead of Russia to death" [on August 20, 13] (at the same time, naturally, it was let know that the Progressive block in practice conducting the country to revolution is rescue for Russia).

However, seeing impossibility right to agree among themselves, the tonality of the liberal editions from terrible and accusatory was replaced with ironic and humiliating. Unfortunate negotiations of the far-right with moderate and nationalists "Exchange sheets" derided already on August 14 in the feuilleton "Black Block" in which, in particular,

there were such lines which are grotesque drawing P.N. Durnovo's activity in the aspiration to create a counterbalance of the liberal opposition and, allegedly, distributing the following instructions to the adherents:

"Go in the Duma you, Evgenyevich ***,

buoy tour,

And after you also Shcheglovitov will go. And in State council will go: Recruiters I appoint you, And in shots of the arising block, - the Most black of black unifications, - Hire to me among nationalists of the Most worthy and devoted people..." [14].

However attempts to attract to the conservative block of nationalists as it was stated above, terminated in a total failure. The group of the right center of the State Council close to the Duma nationalists acting through the head A.B. Neydgart did not support the idea of association (though did not begin to adjoin the Progressive block), and the fraction of nationalists and moderately right the State Duma soon broke up into "progressive nationalists" led by V.A. Bobrinsky, V.V. Shulgin, A.I. Sa-venko who hurried to adjoin the Progressive block, and nationalists-ball-shevtsev, refused to go together with opposition, but at the same time not begun to adjoin and to the far-right. According to messages of the press, without having found support of a considerable part of fraction to the idea of association with right, Ba-lashev on the eve of split in the ranks of nationalists began to conduct negotiations with the center and Octobrists on creation of joint information bureau that would have to allow to create in the Duma the conservative and liberal block ****, separating from the far-right and the Progressive block. However and this attempt was doomed to a failure: fractions of the center and Octobrists stated to Balashev that they to them on the way "with all progressive currents" the State Duma, and right condemned the leader of nationalists for "double citizenship" [on August 2, 12].

As a result as the historian D.A. Kotsyubinsky, not adjoined the Missile defense notes -

to the gressivny block nationalists-balashev-tsy soon showed policy "conciliatory" in essence in relation to the oppositional camp, submitting in many cases to opinion of the Duma majority (i.e. Progressive block) [10, page 204-206].

However leaders of right-wing group of the State Council did not leave efforts on consolidation of forces faithful to autocracy. In response to the declaration of the Progressive block they developed the draft of own declaration which keynote was an appeal to members of the top and lower chambers of the Russian parliament to follow an appeal of the emperor and to leave any transformations which do not have a direct bearing on war prior to a victory over Germany. It was offered to sign this declaration also to neydgartovets, however the group of the right center found it "on the substance of unacceptable". Also attempts of right-wing group to convince neydgartovets that edition of the declaration is not final did not help and can be a little changed to please group of the right center. The compromise did not manage to be reached as neydgartovets rejected it, having proved the refusal by unwillingness of new split between members of legislative houses [on September 20, 8]. Thus, the right association did not develop again.

The death of the leader of right-wing group of the State Council (the truth already informal) P.N. Durnovo on September 11, 1915 which was according to liberals "kind of a live protest against a new spirit of the age" [15] became serious blow to attempts of consolidation of the right forces. "Reaction lost one of the most faithful servants, the public of Russia sees descending in a grave of the worst enemy", - "Morning of Russia" exulted [on September 20, 12]. Triumph it is quite explainable, considering that besides "reactionism" "the person remarkably clever", "ingenious abilities, huge force, inimitable working capacity, and almost wonderful insight", "surprising talents" and possessing "the fighter's nature" [5, page 127, 128] was Durnovo, according to the prominent conservative thinker L.A. Tikhomirov.

As a result "The black block" because of a huge number of disagreements between right was not created. The far-right did not manage to win round group of the right center of the State Council, to hold from split fraction of the Russian nationalists, not to mention vain hopes to attract group of the center and the right Octobrists on side of the right flank. Moreover, swayings were found also in the most conservative groups of the Duma and Council. But, perhaps, the main reason of a failure of the agreement between right was that circumstance that to initiators

creations of "The black block" it was not succeeded to find a subject for the agreement between conservative parliamentary groups and to develop the accurate action program, and there were already few some slogans. As a result right appeared in obvious minority, but did not leave the determination in fight against opposition. Though, unlike the political opponents, right it was not succeeded to create any joint association issued at least in the form of the general declaration, steps in this direction were taken by them up to 1917 and were stopped by the broken-out revolution.

* According to A.V. Lopukhova's data, already on the eve of World War I in fraction of nationalists and moderately right there were two obviously expressed covered: P.N. Balashev's supporters focused on rapprochement with the far-right (right nationalists) and the group conducted by the Kiev deputy: V.V. Shulgin, A.I. Savenko, V.Ya. Demchenko playing for alliance with Octobrists [11, page 152]. And on the eve of the fractional meeting, on August 4, 1915 Savenko demonstrated that "the fraction of nationalists creeps away on seams", at the same time finding it difficult to explain "what the difference between them consists in (the left nationalists. - A.I.) and fractions, more to the left of them sitting" [19, page 281].

** To be surprised to a position of A.I. Savenko who headed for blocking with liberals not to have if addresses not his public speeches of pre-war time sustained in the spirit of moderate conservatism, and private correspondence. So, in March, 1913 the deputy wrote the wife in one of letters: "From now on I am not afraid of revolution, it, even it, is much more patriotic, than our mean government, than all this nasty bureaucracy absolutely indifferent to Russia" [11, page 152].

*** It is about the leader of fraction the right Nikolay Evgenyevich Markov, the Kursk deputy in the State Duma sometimes signing the articles in the right editions with the pseudonym "Buoy tour" in honor of a nickname of the Kursk prince Vsevolod Svyatoslavich, one of the main characters of "Tale of Igor's Campaign".

**** The nationalist A.I. Savenko wrote about P.N. Balashev: ". Our leader Balashev, though he and more to the right, than most its fraction, however he always submits to resolutely expressed desire of the majority" [6, No. 9, page 26].


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William Byrd
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