The Vyborg Manifesto (Russian: Выборгское воззвание, translit. Vyborgskoye Vozzvaniye; also called the Vyborg Appeal) was a proclamation signed by several Russian politicians, primarily Kadets and Trudoviks) of the dissolved First Duma June 22nd 1906 (June 9th O.S.).
In the wake of the 1905 Revolution, Russia's first modern parliament, the State Duma, was convoked. It rapidly became a voice of radicalism and liberalism, and was subsequently dissolved by the Tsarist government 72 days after convocation. Outraged, several of the members of the first Duma travelled to Vyborg in the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, where they signed a 'manifesto' calling for public resistance and tax and draft evasion.
The manifesto was met with 'universal indifference', which allowed the Tsarist authorities to silence the manifesto's contributors, and they were all banned from participating in future Dumas. The result was that the Kadet party turned towards conservatism and no longer consciously identifying themselves as a party for 'the people'.
The Constitutional Democratic Party was formed in Moscow on 12–18 October 1905 at the height of the Russian Revolution of 1905 when Tsar Nicholas II was forced to sign the October Manifesto granting basic civil liberties. The Kadets were to the immediate Left of the Octobrists, another liberal party organized at the same time. Unlike the Octobrists, who were committed to constitutional monarchy from the start, the Kadets were at first ambiguous on the subject, demanding universal suffrage (even for women) and a Constituent Assembly that would determine the country's form of government. The Kadets were one of the parties invited by the reform-minded prime minister Sergei Witte to join his cabinet in October and November 1905, but the negotiations broke down over the Kadets' radical demands and Witte's refusal to drop notorious reactionaries like Petr Nikolayevich Durnovo from the cabinet.
In the wake of the 1905 Revolution, Russia's first modern parliament, the first Duma, was convoked. It rapidly turned into a revolutionary tribune, 'a rhetorical battering ram against the fortress of autocracy'. Day one of the Duma the parliamentarians condemned the government's political repression, and demands of amnesty of political prisoners became voiced from the Tauride Palace; the calls commenced after a boat full of representatives sailed down the Neva, passing by the Kresty prison, whereupon a tearful and emotional waving encounter between the prisoners and the representatives happened. As the representatives found their seats Ivan Petrunkevich, the leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets), asked upon the assembly to devote their first free thoughts and words to 'those who sacrificed their own freedom for the liberation of our dear Russia. The hall burst into shouting 'Amnesty, Amnesty' towards the ministers attending, and amnesty for the political prisoners, a prerogative exclusively held by the Tsar, were included in an address to the Emperor which also included demands for increased liberties such as universal suffrage, radical land reforms, further executive powers to the Duma, a government responsible to the parliament, and the abolition of the reactionary consultative State Council. After two weeks of silence, the government passed its two first bills for the approval of the Duma, one for the construction of a greenhouse at the University of Dorpat and one for the a new laundry. This was in effect a declaration of a 'legislative war', as the government would not even recognise the demands of reform from the Duma.
It was clear by this time that it was only a matter of time before the Duma became dissolved, and after further radical speeches in the Duma stand, the parliament was dissolved 72 days after it was convoked, on the 21st of July (8th of July O.S.) New elections for a second Duma was called for the following February, and Prime Minister Ivan Goremykin was replaced by Stolypin, who was a well known advocate for the abolition of the communal system, and known for repressive measures to restore order in the provinces. The liberals of the first Duma were subsequently outraged. Prince Georgy Lvov was one of those outraged by this 'blatant attack on the parliamentary principle', even though he had opposed the land reform; he subsequently became radicalised, after previously being a 'moderate liberal'. The government on the other hand deemed the Duma 'dysfunctional'.
Lvov became one of the Kadets who now travelled to Vyborg (Finnish: Viipuri), a Finnish resort town, in protest of the government. Here the Kadet members and liberals signed a 'manifesto' where they called on the Russian people to rebel against the government by refusing to pay taxes or provide recruits for the army. According to historian Orlando Figes, the Vyborg Manifesto was 'a typical example of the Kadets' militant posturing' since Duma's opening.
The Manifesto was written by Pavel Milyukov, and signed by 120 Kadet and 80 Trudovik and Social Democrat deputies, alongside some other political representatives like Social Revolutionaries and Muslims.
The Manifesto was met with near universal indifference from the people. This allowed the government employ repressive methods to silence its most outspoken 'brave, but naive' liberal critics. Over 100 leading members of the Kadet Party were brought to trial, and subsequently suspended from the Duma due to their participation in the manifesto. They were replaced in the second and third Duma by less radical and less talented politicians than those who had been suspended. These politicians also went along a more conservative line, staying within the Tsar's laws, in defence of the parliament, as the party now were living in the 'shadow of the "Vyborg complex"'. The entire Kadet leadership was one of the groups targeted by being banned from participation in future Dumas.
As a result of the events surrounding the Manifesto, the Kadet Party lost all trust in the people's support, and would no longer claim to represent them either. Instead they consciously became what they de facto had been all along: the 'natural party' of the bourgeois. The liberals' failure to rally the masses in defence of the Duma in practice left them 'high and dry', only clinging on to a hope of persuading the Tsarist regime to liberalise itself, and with an even bigger fear of 'the masses'.
Despite the change towards conservatism, the government, remained suspicious of the Kadets until the fall of the monarchy in 1917.
Note: Georgy Lvov became ill whilst travelling to Vyborg and had to return to the capital. It is however clear that he sympathised with it.
- Figes, Orlando. A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891–1924. London: The Bodley Head. ISBN 9781847922915.
- Gross, David (ed.) We Won’t Pay!: A Tax Resistance Reader ISBN 1-4348-9825-3 pp. 307–312
- Lee, Stephen J. Lenin and Revolutionary Russia, Routledge, 2003
- Phillips, Steve Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Heinemann, 2000
- Text of Vyborg Manifesto (Russian)