Common past: how stole in the Russian Empire

A well-known phrase said by Lord Acton: “all power corrupt, but absolute power corrupt absolutely”. The reason lies in the very nature of absolute power, seeking to control everyone and everything. Creating a rigid Executive vertical, and closing all by yourself, the Governor believes that achieved full control. But it is a dangerous illusion. The Emperor of Russia possessed the power, incomparable with the absolute European monarchs. But technically not sharing the power with anyone, he divided it with the bureaucratic apparatus, operating by its own laws. Manual control government fueled Russian corruption

“Autocracy, limited bribes”

Photo: “RIA Novosti”


During the reign of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I (1825-1855 gg), called by historians “the apogee of autocracy”, was a time of total corruption. As written he was serving in the office of the Military Ministry Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin “in Russia all steal. And, laughing, saying Yes when will it all end”. Here are just a few cases.

Among the residents of Nizhny Novgorod proverb about the three police chief, who succeeded each other in the first half of the nineteenth century: “one took one hand, the other two, and the third one paw raked”.

From the report of the provincial Prosecutor of Kharkiv to the Minister of justice in 1831, it became clear that in Kharkov flourished Surdutovich Sergeant-at-arms, famous for “money lust”. Bailiff paternally protected “public dissolute women”, generously paid him not only money but also pleasure. The local Prosecutor Gadowski decided to find out what channels are such a wonderful income. Imagine his surprise when it turned out that the “roof” of the brave police officer was… brother of the Governor who took his due part of not only money, but also the services of prostitutes. Along the way it became clear that Kharkov traders honestly paid not only police, but also the executioner of the provincial prison. Just in case…

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Minister of justice of the Russian Empire count Viktor Panin gave a bribe of 100 rubles a judicial official, to help the daughter of the Minister to receive relying it under the law the estate of the deceased grandmother in a reasonable period of time. In 1817, on assuming office, the Governor of Simbirsk region, Mikhail Magnitsky pathetically exhorted his officials, “gentlemen, hard on you can’t be, I won’t convince you not to take bribes, because it goes against your nature, but I’ll tell you: take it, but not deride”.

<p>the Scene from&nbsp;the performance &quot;Auditor&quot;&nbsp;N. In. Gogol</p>


Photo: “RIA Novosti”


A scene from “the Auditor” N. In. Gogol

Let the thief, but your

Seeing the rampant corruption, the Emperor Nicholas I, tend to simple and clear solutions, I decided to correct the matter by audit. It appeared the auditors, some of them came “from St. Petersburg, incognito. Yes, and with secret instructions…”.

As a result, the Emperor appeared terrible picture. It turned out that in the capital of the Empire St. Petersburg none of the cash has never been verified, all financial reports — the notorious Linden, and some officials simply disappeared in an unknown direction, taking with him hundreds of thousands of public money. This is despite the fact that renting a small room in the apartment house St. Petersburg was the official of an average hand in 10-15 rubles a month.

Of course, the easiest way to “bury the money” it was possible in road works, especially when constructing a major highway. At the end of 1830 begins the construction of the highway Smolensk-Moscow, which is headed by the Governor of Smolensk Nikolay Khmelnitsky. On paper, the work looked impressive: bridges repaired, rebuilt infrastructure. However, in reality this was not actually nothing, a soap bubble. It came to the sovereign. Nicholas I learned that for every mile of road was spent on thirty-five thousand rubles, which is 10 times more expensive than the actual cost, was furious: “it’s Cheaper to pave this road silver rubleviki than a stone!”. The Emperor ordered “find themselves guilty of abuse device Smolensk highway, the former Civil Governor of Smolensk state Councilor Khmelnytsky highway superintendent Lieutenant Colonel of Saneba, Commissioner Raczynski and Pestrikova contractor to put in the casemates of the St. Petersburg fortress and bring immediately a military court under the local Ordinance the brig”.

But not all the Emperor was very essential. One thing the Governor of Smolensk, another — General-chief of police of St.-Petersburg Sergey Kokoshkin, who “served and profited as naturally as birds sing.” And, of course, the same construction contracts. It all started with the announcement of the tender for the right to begin construction. Invariably the winner was the one who offered the maximum amount. The winner, however, rejoiced too early. In the process of construction estimates had increased, and the closer to its end, the more kickbacks. “Winners” started to murmur. The case was assigned to the Minister of internal Affairs, Lev perovski. Opened the picture was impressive…Had to report to the Emperor: “your Majesty, he much takes…”. “I know these things,’ replied Nicholas, ‘ but I sleep good at night, knowing that he was a police chief in St. Petersburg.” Let the thief, but your devotee…

1 April 1836 Nicholas I ordered the Ministers to compulsorily attend the premiere of “the Inspector General” by Nikolai Gogol. The Emperor was delighted, laughed a lot, and leaving the theatre, dramatically raised his eyebrows and said, “Well, the play! Everyone went, and me — more of all!”.

An effective Manager in the Ministry of War

Privy Councilor, the Director of the office of the “Committee wounded August 18, 1814” War of the Ministry Alexander Politkovskaya worked perfectly noble cause — helping veterans and invalids of the Patriotic war of 1812 the Committee had paid the fare, provide decent pensions, raised money from philanthropists. Everything seemed very decent. Politkovskaya’s career went uphill. In 1828 he became Chamberlain, then Chamberlain, and soon grew to privy councillor. The order was not long in coming: St. Vladimir 3rd degree, St Anna and St. Stanislaus 1-th degree. It was crowned by the presentation of a special badge for 30 years of distinguished service. However, perfection is easily explained. Patron Politkovskaya was a famous General Chernishev, first Minister of the interior and later Chairman of the State Council of the Russian Empire. General Chernyshov passion as did not love fighting officers infected with Freemasonry, or, even worse, “thinking”. But he quite liked the young Executive and an effective Manager. Department of General Chernyshov and checked the work of the Committee, each time finding it in the highest degree commendable.

In these hothouse conditions, Politkovskaya became stronger. About the nights in the apartment Politkovskaya, accompanied by unrivalled card games under outlandish dishes with overseas wines, with the participation of Actresses and dancers, knew all the Bohemian Saint-Petersburg.

But something terrible happened. In 1852 Chernyshov ceases to be a Minister of the interior. In accordance with established procedures referral of cases was accompanied by serious financial test. Nothing boded storm until then, until the beginning of 1853, the inspectors from State control did not suddenly appear in the “Committee for the wounded”. Immediately demanded cash book. Uncomplicated superficial audit showed a shortage of 10 thousand rbl. having Decided that the best defense is attack, Politkovskaya had made a fatal mistake: “ran” on State control. The official said about the falsification of data. He demanded cash book and stopped to let inspectors into the premises of the Committee. Based auditors have refused to return books, it is reasonable assuming that the numbers in them will be corrected Politkovskaya. In the end, the Chairman of the Committee on the wounded adjutant General Ushakov sided inspection: inspection must be complete and pass 30 January 1853

On the day of inspection Politkovskaya, took the keys from the cashier, waited in vain. The officer suddenly died. On the table to the Emperor lay report in which the amount stolen was determined to 1.1 million silver rubles… it Turned out that Politkovskaya has built a sophisticated scheme. Fabricated documents, the treatment of military veterans, which has occurred all payments. While Politkovskaya was filled in the amount that they see fit, providing the necessary help. All of these documents were returned to him. “Aerobatics” was a complete fabrication of the pension Affairs of persons with disabilities, the concept had no about his happiness, and selfless assistance of the state. “Dead souls” according to the documents received the full course of treatment, vacation home, travel expenses and disability benefits. OPG “Politkovskaya and partners” worked on full power.

After learning about the amount stolen, the Emperor Nicholas I was furious. Was followed by the sovereign’s order: “the Privy councillor Politkovskaya for the abduction from the invalid capital more than one million of silver rubles, embezzlement of this amount, if he were alive, would be subject to the penalty of civil death, the deprivation of ranks, awards, distinctions irreproachable service and all rights of a condition and the reference in unbearable work in fortresses…All property which would be indisputably owned by Politkovskaya or his wife, this in giving his daughter, also described in defendants Rybkin, Tarakanova and Putvinskio uniformly the property of their wives, if they by law can’t prove, that it belonged to them before marriage, not during thereof purchased, be paid to the replenishment of wasted amounts”. Moreover, a special decree of Nicholas I rely on a rank Politkovskaya honorable funeral ceremony in St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg was canceled, orders are withdrawn, the body of Chamberlain of his uniform, dressed in an ordinary frock-coat, after which the coffin was taken to the Vyborg side. Even prepared for the newspaper “Russian invalid”, the obituary was not printed.

What ended the struggle Nicholas I with bribes tells a legend according to which the Emperor, examining, together with the heir of one of the restored towers of Smolensk and knowing about the embezzlement of public funds in its construction, said, “I think, Sasha, in Russia only you and I don’t steal”.

Liberal recipe

The time has come of the great liberal reforms. At the direction of Alexander II for the first time in the Russian Empire entered what we now call the Declaration of income of officials. Now begins officially published the list of civil servants of the Russian Empire, where information was collected about the situation of the official, his awards, and the income and property of the family.

The next step was the establishment by the decision of the Senate ad hoc Committee, whose task was to identify the causes of rampant corruption (covetousness) of the Russian officials. The causes were deemed “1. Dependence, which is the judiciary. 2. Dependence in General, all kinds of places and authorities of the Supreme rulers, i.e. the dependence of the lower officials to the higher. 3. The filling of the places people unable. In the current situation almost all of the posts written by people from the lower class, mostly those without education and who have no idea about neither honor nor about the responsibilities of knowledge they carry, the only servants for existence. 4. Effort to storage Stationery the so-called secrets, i.e., the closeness of authorities from third-party eyes, the lack of transparency in decision-making.”

Since 150 years have passed. You can take any harsh anti-corruption laws and create structures that control officials “on top”. Funny to instruct officials to monitor officials. The result will be, as there was in the Russian Empire. This problem is solved by control from below and the independence of the three branches of government. And while the seer was Saltykov-Shchedrin: “If I fall asleep and Wake up in a hundred years and people ask me what is happening in Russia, I will answer, drinking and stealing”.

Free historical society (SIV) was established in 2014, bringing together historians and experts in social Sciences and Humanities as they deem necessary to maintain standards of professionalism and impartiality in historical research, to contribute to the meeting in the historical community norms professional ethics, to establish an expert environment, enjoying the confidence of the society, to raise public scientific knowledge about the past and to fight the falsification of history and the manipulation of it, in whose interests they were made, as well as with efforts to restrict freedom of scientific research. During its existence, the fighting has organized a number of educational and research programs, roundtables and events related to the study of history, as well as to protect the interests of the professional historical community from threats, including those associated with the decisions of the authorities. So, it acted in support of the MGIMO Professor Andrei Zubov, who was fired for criticizing Russian foreign policy towards Ukraine against the collapse of international contacts of Russian scientists with political motives, in particular the deportation of the Estonian academician Valery Tishkov, against the State Duma adopted the law about the restriction of freedom of research in the history of the Second world war. The society was supported by academician Yuri Pivovarov, accused of negligence in connection with the fire in the Institute, the scientific staff of the Museum-reserve in his conflict with the authorities of Sevastopol, “the Russian memorial” human Rights centre “memorial”. Criticism from VIO subjected the statements of the Minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky, who advocated the propaganda myths of the Soviet past, also said that historians and archivists should do “what the government pays them money, not to learn related professions”.

The point of view of the authors, whose article published in the “Opinions” section, may not coincide with editorial opinion.