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Reflections of a Russian Statesman

Konstantin Petrovich Pobyedonostsyev (1827-1907) was a Russian jurist, statesman and adviser to three Tsars. A law lecturer, he became a senator, then Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod, the lay head of the Orthodox Church — a position established to bring the Church more under the control of the Tsar. As such, Pobedonostsev was a member of Alexander III’s cabinet.

In his “Reflections of a Russian Statesman” (1896), he promoted autocracy, and condemned elections, representation and democracy, the jury system, the press, free education and charities. Of representative government, he wrote, “It is terrible to think of our condition if destiny had sent us the fatal gift — an all-Russian Parliament.”

This edition of “Reflections of a Russian Statesman” also contains “The Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy”. This was issued by Tsar Alexander III on April 29, 1881 (old style), about two months after the assassination of his father, Alexander II. Influenced by, if not written by, Pobedonostsev, the manifesto rejected the more liberal reforms of Alexander’s father (and some of his father’s ministers) in favour of the “unshakable autocracy” which had been given to the tsars as a sacred duty from God. The document summed up Alexander’s counter-reform policies.

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