Mykhaylo Drahomanov: A Symposium and Selected Writings, The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S., Vol. II, Spring, 1952, No. 1 (3).
DRAFT OF A UKRAINIAN POLITICAL AND SOCIAL PROGRAM
Draft of a Ukrainian Political and Social Program
This was first published as a pamphlet (Geneva, 1884). Our translation was made from the reprint in the first volume of Collected Political Works. Free Union
falls into three parts: a short introduction, of which we have
presented about one half, the Draft Constitution for the Ukrainian
Society. Free Union, which we have translated in its entirety, and a
rather long (80 printed pages) commentary on the Draft Constitution,
with the historical and political reasons for each point. Limitations
of space force us to omit the interesting portion of the work.
Drahomanov recounts the genesis of Free Union in his "Autobiography."4
In the summer of 1883 two delegates of Ukrainian underground groups
approached him in Geneva. They brought with them summaries of the views
of the groups, and intended to work out with Drahomanov a systematic
political program. In the course of the discussion divergences between
Drahomanov and the delegates became manifest. The latter did not have
much understanding of the Galician question and of the problems of
on which Drahomanov laid considerable stress. On the other hand, they
wanted to proceed as quickly as possible to direct revolutionary action
in association with Russian revolutionary organizations. Drahomanov
felt that careful preparation was necessary, and warned against too
direct cooperation with Russian revolutionaries, giving as one reason
the fact that their groups armed with agents provocateurs.
In spite of these differences the work was completed in August, 1883.
Soon thereafter, however, the entire central committee of the budding
organization was arrested; they had in fact been betrayed to the police
through their connection with the Russian revolutionaries. Thus the
Free Union organization miscarried. Nonetheless Drahomanov decided to
publish the writing as a sort of "catechism of public law,"5 although he was aware that the form of the article -- statutes of an organization -- made it difficult to read.
4 Selected Works (Prague, 1937), pp. 78-79.
5 Archives of M. Drahomanov (Warsaw, 1937), p. 303.
DRAFT OF A UKRAINIAN POLITICAL AND SOCIAL PROGRAM
. . . . Despite the fact that we have made use of the political views
of persons from various parts of Russia, and despite our profound
conviction that, for the present at least, no part of Russia can make
practical progress without the general reform of this entire State, we
have not given our political and social program even the outward
semblance of an all-Russian program, but offer it as a proposition
adapted to the area best known to us, i.e., to the regions inhabited
predominantly by Ukrainians or Little Russians
-- from the eastern districts of the Kingdom of Poland [Drahomanov
speaks here not about pre-partition Poland, but about the so-called
Congress Kingdom [ed.]]
to the foothills of the Caucasus.
It is our opinion that a truly all-Russian program can come about only
as the sum of regional programs, as a truly all-Russian political
organization only from the alliance of the regional organizations
behind them. For this reason we think that at present the most
important problem in gaining political freedom for the peoples of
Russia is the formation of regional political societies
capable of rallying as many people and representative groups as
possible behind specific political and social demands. These societies
would then unite fpr joint action to transform Russia in accordance
with these demands. We have concluded, therefore, that it would be most
suitable to formulate the political and social aims already widespread
as a proposed constitution for such a regional society and to submit it
for public approval, especially by inhabitants of Ukrainian regions. We
consider the name Free Union the most .appropriate., in view of the
present status of the Ukraine and adjoining regions. The basic
principles of such a society are fully in accord with the traditions of
the Ukrainian people and have found expression through organizations
even in darker times, as for example in the Society of United Slavs in
1824-25 and in the group of friends of Shevchenko known as the
Brotherhood of Cyril and Methodius in the 1840's. The potential
adherents of such a society exist in the Ukraine and are even active in
various spheres of .social life, both as individuals and as members of
groups. They lack only a stable, specific organization, which alone can
ensure a systematic approach, and, consequently, extensive and
successful action. We shall consider our task accomplished if our
present proposal serves in the working out of a definitive program, one
which its authors, living in the country itself, can carry out as their
DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOR THE UKRAINIAN SOCIETY FREE UNION
The Aims of the Society
- A society, Free Union, should be formed in Ukrainian territory to
work for the political, economic, and cultural emancipation and
progress of the Ukrainian people and of the other races living among
them in settlements.
Note. Because the Ukrainian people live in various States --
Russia, Austria (in Galicia and Bukovina) and Hungary (in the eastern
Comitats) -- and under varying political conditions (even though under
significantly similar social and cultural conditions), different
methods should be employed in each of these. For this reason, separate
political societies -- completely independent rather than branches of a
single organization -- should be formed in each of the above areas. The
very nature of things would cause these societies to agree on a certain
degree of solidarity.
The present draft, worked out with the help of Ukrainians from Russia, the Russian Ukraine almost exclusively in mind.
- Free Union should cooperate with similar societies among
other peoples whose interests are similar to those of the Ukrainian
Note. In order to facilitate such cooperation, Free Union should
allow persons of various nationalities to become members, should found
its own chapters in Ukrainian settlements in other lands, and should
help form similar societies among peoples with related interests.
- Free Union's most important task in Russia at present and in the near future should be to reorganize the State on the basis of political freedom approximately the following principles:
- Political freedom should be construed as:
- The rights of man and citizen:
- Immunity of the person from degrading punishments and capital punishment.
- Immunity of the person and home from the police if they have no warrant from the court.
- Note I. A person apprehended flagrante delicto can be arrested by anyone, but must be turned over to the judiciary authorities immediately.
- Note II. No one should be tried by a special court. Criminal courts, except for magistrates courts, should provide trial by jury.
- Freedom of residence and occupation.
- Inviolability of private correspondence and telegrams.
- Inviolability of nationality (recognition of the native languages in private and public life).
- Freedom of conscience (belief and disbelief) and of any public
religious services and rituals which do not offend the public sense of
Note. This freedom implies the abolition of the State church and
the transformation of all ecclesiastical institutions into private
organizations, to be maintained solely by voluntary contributors and
administered according to their wishes, without any aid or interference
by public authorities.
- Freedom of speech, the press, the theatre, and education.
- Freedom of assembly, petition, and manifestation (through
posters, banners, processions, etc.), provided public order and
security are not disturbed or threatened.
- Freedom to form societies and associations.
- The right to bear arms and hold military exercises provided public order and security are not disturbed or threatened.
- The right to take action in civil or criminal courts against
officials and public institutions for illegal infringement upon the
rights of the individual.
- The right to resist illegal acts by officials.
- The equality of all in civic rights and duties.
- Note I to section A. The rights of man and citizen may not
be abrogated or restricted by any law or decree, except for
restrictions legally imposed in time of war. Even under such
circumstances no person who is not in the army may be tried by a
military or any other special court.
Note II to section A. The preservation of the above rights is
the responsibility of local justices of the peace, who should be
authorized, under their own responsibility, to request the cooperation
of nearby troops, whose duty it is to give such help.
Communal (village and town);
Volost [group of villages];
Uyezd [district]; and
1 The regions into which the Russian Empire should be
divided, with geographic, economic and ethnographic conditions all
taken into consideration, would be approximately as follows: the
Northern, Lake, and Baltic regions, Lithuania, Poland, Byelorussia,
Polesia, Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, Moscow, Nizhni Novgorod, Kazan, Urals,
Saratov, Caucasia, Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, Cossack lands
(Don, Kuban, and Terek), and Central Asia.
This self-government should be vested in meetings or in elected assemblies, to which all officials should be responsible, except judges, whose status should be specially defined.
Note. In general the present judicial system, according to the statutes of Nov. 20, 1864, can be considered satisfactory.
- All persons 21 years of age and over should have the
right to vote and to be elected to various representative assemblies
and to communal, volost and district offices. However, only
persons 25 years of age and over should have the right to be elected to
regional and state assemblies or offices.
- Note I. The laws on electoral colleges and districts should
be such that those elected would represent not only the inhabitants of
all the localities, but also, as far as possible, all types of
occupations, and minorities as well as majorities.
Note II. Voters should have the right to give mandates to their delegates.
- Village affairs should be administered by the village meeting and by the executive committee and chairman elected by it.
- In cities and towns, volosts [groups of villages],
districts, and regions, councils should be created to administer public
affairs. These councils should be elected on the basis of special laws
on electoral colleges and electoral districts, in accordance with III,
3. The councils will elect Executive committees.
- Village meetings, as well as city, volost, district,
and regional councils, should have the right to delegate the execution
of their decisions not only to the chairmen and executive committees,
but also to special individuals or committees.
- Village meetings, as well as city, volost, district,
and regional councils, should have the right to charge their executive
committees with taking action in civil or criminal courts against any
officials who commit illegal acts.
- In their territories the communal, volost, and
district authorities described in paragraphs 4 and 5 should administer
the local public economy (public property, markets, fairs, etc.),
public works (means of communication, public buildings, post offices,
etc.), welfare (sanitation, food supply, charity, insurance, epizootic
control, etc.), and public elementary education as well as secondary
education if possible.
- The regional councils, executive committees, and other
bodies appointed by them should: legislate for and administer the
regional public economy, public works, and welfare where they are
beyond the means of a single district; supervise all economic activity
in the region (agriculture, mining, forestry, crafts, industry, etc.),
and take measures for the conservation and proper exploitation of the
region's natural resources. They should also take measures for
safeguarding and increasing the wealth of the inhabitants of the
region, supervise public education in the region, and administer
secondary schools maintained at the expense of the region, as well as
higher educational and learned institutions (academies, etc.).
- On all matters within their competence, village meetings, as well as volost,
city, district, and regional councils, should have the right to issue
binding decrees (not contrary to the. laws and common interests of the
State union), to fix taxes in order to meet public requirements in
their competence, and to enter into relationships and agreements with
similar institutions within the state in order to satisfy their common
Notes to paragraphs 4-10. I. The details of the relationships
among the above institutions, with their varying degrees of competence,
should be determined by special statutes. It is essential, however,
that these statutes should provide, insofar as is possible, that
institutions with wider competence should not become superior to those
with more limited competence, but that each should have a maximum of
independence in its own field, particularly in matters financed by it.
The supervision of education referred to should consist of research and
advice rather than command.
II. Similarly, the relationship between representatives of the
government of the whole State (ministers and regional governors) and
agencies of local self-government should be determined by special
statutes. In order that local self-government be real, it is essential
that the representatives of the State be able to override only such
decrees and acts by the agencies of local self-government as are
contrary to the fundamental laws and common interests of the State
union, and that disagreements arising in this manner be settled by the
Senate (Supreme Court). The State official in question should be
legally responsible for overriding these decrees and acts.
- The police in the cities, districts, and their subdivisions
should be under the jurisdiction of the respective councils. Local
police officials should be responsible to these regardless of the
manner of their appointment.
- In addition to the functions in paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11,
the local elected authorities should control the assessment and
allocation of direct State taxes. The regional councils should also
conduct a preliminary study of all drafts of financial laws for the
State as a whole and should express their opinions on these to the
state legislatures. They should also legislate on local affairs: the
application of electoral laws, territorial divisions, codification of
customary law, etc.
- Affairs concerning the entire Russian State union and the
legislation of the State as a whole should be in the hands of two
- The State Council, whose members should be chosen by electoral
colleges in the electoral districts, according to a special law on the
basis of paragraph 3, and
- The Union Council, whose members should be elected by the regional councils.
Note. The Regional Councils should give mandates to their
representatives in the Union Council and should have the right to
replace these representatives at any time.
- Both these councils should appoint an interim committee to act while they are not in session.
- Ministers, appointed by the Chief of State, should be
responsible to both councils, which should also have the right to
- In addition to its role in the legislation and administration
of the whole State, the Union Council, as the representative of the
regions, should in particular manage the State property, a resource
common to all the regions. The Union Council should administer these
resources for the common good, on the basis of laws enacted jointly
with the State Council, after consultation with the District and
Regional Councils. The latter should inform the Union Council of the
needs to be served by the use of above-mentioned resources.
- All the councils should be required to convene at definite
periods for regular sessions. Special sessions of these councils may,
however, be convened by the respective executive committees and the
interim committee or at the request of one third of the council
members. In the event of war or regional rebellion, the State and Union
Councils should convene automatically if not convened by either the
Chief of State or the interim committee. They should remain in session
until they themselves decide on a recess.
- The Chief of State can, with the consent of the Union
Council, dissolve the State Council. In such a case, however, the Union
Council will also be dissolved, and the proclamation to this effect
should also set the date for the election of new members to these
councils. The publication of this proclamation should be accompanied by
the convening of the regional councils, which should remain in session
until the convening of the new Councils of the whole State.
- In the event of usurpation of State power, the regional
councils should meet on their own initiative and should take measures
to restore law and order. In such an event the troops stationed in the
regions should obey the regional councils.
- In the case of impeachment, a High Court, composed of
members of the criminal department of the Senate (Supreme Court) and
the Union Council should meet to try ministers for abuse of office and
to try members of the State and Union Councils for treason.
- The Chief of State should appoint Senators (Supreme Court
Justices) for life terms, selecting them from candidates recommended by
the Union Council. These. candidates must have an advanced degree in
law and should previously have served in the courts or as
representatives to the regional or State Council.
- The district and regional councils, as well as the Chief of
State, should have the right to challenge the constitutionality of the
laws passed by the State and Union Councils. Such cases should be
decided by the Senate in a joint session of all departments.
- The Constitution of the State should not be amended without
the approval of two-thirds of the State and Union Councils and without
ratification by the State Assembly.
- The State Assembly should be composed of all the members of
the State and Union Councils, with the addition of sufficient special
deputies, elected by the regional councils, that the number of special
deputies plus members of the Union Council be equal to the number of
members of the State Council.
- It should be the duty of the Chief of State to make public
the laws passed by the State legislatures, Senate decisions annulling
them, and the decrees of the State Assembly; to see to the execution of
these laws and decisions; and to prosecute violations.
Note. The Chief of State may be an hereditary Emperor or an
elected President of the All-Russian State Union elected for a fixed
term. In the first case the ministers should be responsible for his
actions as indicated in paragraphs 15 and 20, while in the second case
he himself should be responsible according to these paragraphs.
- The most important of the above-listed principles for the
political reorganization of Russia are (1) the rights of man and
citizen and (2) local self-government. Any attempt to govern all Russia
through a central representative assembly without the recognition and
safeguarding of these rights and without local self-government must be
considered as giving as little protection to the cause of freedom in
general and to the interests of the Ukraine in particular as does the
present organization of the Russian Empire.
- After all, or the most important parts of the above plan or
a similar one for the political reorganization of Russia are fulfilled,
members of Free Union must strive to alleviate the social injustices
now oppressing the inhabitants of the Russian Ukraine and to guarantee
each of them a means of
livelihood and opportunities for development. With this in mind,
members of Free Union should, acting in freedom through agencies of
self-government, take all steps toward:
- Alleviating the burdens of military duty until such time as
international relations make it possible to replace the standing army
with temporarily recruited militias.
Note. One way of alleviating the burden of military duty would
be to reduce the size of the State army and the period of service in
it; create regional militias; and divide military duty between the
State army and these regional militias.
- Changing all taxes into direct, graduated income taxes.
Note. It is obvious that the present taxes and levies, such as
the poll tax, identity document tax, excise taxes, etc., are a crying
injustice and should be either abolished or completely revised at the
- Making elementary, secondary and higher education
accessible to all. Elementary education should be free for children
from poor families. In addition there should be partial, or if
necessary, complete allowances from public funds to cover the living
expenses of the school child. More capable students should receive
similar help to attend secondary schools and universities.
- Establishing orphanages, old peoples' homes and homes for
the care of the sick and crippled at public expense; and establishing
public pension funds for disablement and old age benefits.
- Limiting the number of working hours per day, especially of
women and children, to the amount compatible with health and physical
and mental development.
Note. Factory work by children under 14 years of age should be unconditionally prohibited.
- Establishing boards to mediate between employers and workers. These should be chosen to represent both parties.
- Improving workers' housing, reducing their rent and
facilitating the purchasing of houses by workers' families and by
- Providing, insofar as possible, a share in the use or
ownership of land or forests to every peasant, through the allocation
of State lands, emigration to unoccupied territory, facilitation of the
purchase of small holdings through public credits and grants, public
purchase of great private estates in land or forests, etc.
- Note I. The contracts, based on the Peasant Statutes of Feb.
19, 1861, which deprived the peasants of their due share of the land or
gave them the so-called one-fourth share, should be re-examined and
provision made for compulsory sale to the peasants if necessary.
- Note II. In localities where the purchase agreements
reached after 1861 impose payments on the peasants on the basis of
overvalued land, general State funds, equal to the amount of
overpayment, should be used to supplement the special peasant tax
- Increasing the income from the land and the earnings of the
workers through the organization of public supply stores and through
placing contracts for public supplies directly with the farmers and
workers. These contracts should be administered by public (preferably
- Supporting and developing communal and cooperative ownership
or leasing of land, and supporting and developing all other
- Repurchasing mines, water resources, forests, railroads,
etc., as nonprofit public utilities by the State, the regions,
districts, volosts (groups of villages) or communes, using the cooperative method of production and operation wherever possible.
- The economic measures outlined above constitute the minimum
program for members of Free Union after the foundation of political
freedom has been established in Russia. Following the establishment of
political freedom, members who consider these measures insufficient can
honorably leave Free Union. They can then act according to their own
Conclusion. The aims of the Ukrainian society Free Union can be summed up as follows:
- General civic aims:
- The rights of man and citizen -- the indispensable condition for personal dignity and development.
- Self-government -- the basis for progress toward social justice.
- Specific national aim:
Political freedom -- as a means for the return of the Ukrainian nation to the family of civilized peoples.
The Society's Means of Action
Introductory note. In every social question the issue of means
is subsequent to that of ends. Means depend on constantly changing
circumstances, and hence it is impossible and consequently unnecessary
to determine them fully in advance. The most important thing in every
political society is to
gather together as many members as possible clearly aware of their
goal. These members will then find the most expedient means of
attaining their goal. Therefore the following recommendations make no
claim of being complete; they are merely an attempt to indicate certain
methods, primarily for disseminating the basic ideas of Free Union
among various strata of the population.
- In order to achieve the aims set forth in the first part of the Draft Constitution,
it is essential to found throughout the Ukraine chapters of Free Union
composed of adults with, as far as possible, definite occupations and
representing all present classes of the population.
Note. It is clear from what has been said that members of Free
Union should refrain from inciting young people to political struggle
before they are prepared for it and to acts which might prevent them
from being conscious and influential political figures in due time when
they have obtained general and professional training.
- It should be the unconditional duty of members of Free Union,
in addition to all other duties they assume under the present statutes,
to work to improve their intellectual and ethical standards and to
strive to occupy as prominent places as possible in all causes
Note. Familiarity with the political, social, and cultural life
of the Western European peoples, as well as the most detailed knowledge
of their native land, should be recommended as particularly desirable
for members of Free Union.
- All Free Union activity should be in accord with the aims
outlined above, in detail and in spirit. They should also be in accord
with the general rules of morality.
- Note I. All theft and public fraud should be strictly unacceptable to members of Free Union.
- Note II. Murder (an act contrary to the fundamental
rights of man and citizen) should never be the aim either of Free Union
or any of its chapters. If, however, a member of Free Union commits a
political murder, in self-defense or through incitement by extreme
injustices of the government and its servants, he must assume full
personal responsibility for this.* [* Of course "theft" and [* Of course "theft" and "murder" here refer to the political "expropriation" and assassinations of the terrorists. [ed.]]
- Never losing sight of their main goals -- the uniting of all
inhabitants of the Ukraine in action for the freedom and welfare of
their native land, as well as the union of all present classes of the
population of the Ukraine in a single whole, all parts of which enjoy
equal rights -- members of Free Union should also seek out in every
locality and in every class, ways of life, traditions, and aspirations
which might serve as a natural basis for introducing the aspirations of
the Union, i.e.:
- Members of Free Union should seek out in various localities and
classes of the population of the Ukraine recollections of former
freedom and equality such as, for example, the self-government of the povits
(districts) under the Lithuanian Law, the self-government of the cities
under the Magdeburg Law, the secular and ecclesiastical self-government
of the villages and volosts (groups of villages), the
brotherhoods (lay orders), Cossack self-government (in the hundreds,
regiments and the entire Hetmanate), the congresses of the various
estates during the Hetmanate, the Sich and the autonomous territory of
the Zaporozhian Host, etc. They should strengthen these traditions and
relate them to present-day concepts of liberty and equality among
- Inasmuch as even the imperial Russian laws (e.g., the 1787
Patent of Nobility) protected noblemen from deprivation of their
liberty and property without due process of law and stipulated that
noblemen had the right to petition the crown concerning their needs and
privileges, members of Free Union who are nobles should rouse their
class to demand the abolition of such things as exile without trial and
the emergency statutes on security, and also to demand general
reorganization of the political structure of Russia. In addition,
Ukrainian nobles who are members of Free Union should call the
attention of their peers to the recent popular origin of the Ukrainian
nobility from the originally elective Cossack elders. They should point
out that the seizure of the people's land by the elders was extremely
unjust and that this gives an even greater moral obligation to the
Ukrainian noblemen to speak out against autocracy and to redeem
themselves before the common people for the injustices done them.
- Members of Free Union who come from the classes of artisans
and from the peasantry, as well as all other members, should, in their
dealings with these classes, focus and give direction to their
dissatisfaction with their present situation. At the same time, they
should spread the realization that the tsarist bureaucratic autocracy
is unable to provide for the material welfare of the working classes,
even if the tsar and the officials really desired to do so. In
addition, members of Free Union should spread a realization of the
advantages of political freedom for the workers, even if present
economic relationships were not to change immediately. They should also
prove the need of political freedom to enable the working classes to
begin to change these relationships themselves.
- Working among the peasants and town people, members of Free
Union should devote special attention to the evangelical brotherhoods
(the so-called Stundists, Molokans, Men of God, etc.)) seeking
to explain to them the relationship between freedom of conscience and
political freedoms and striving to foster their inclinations to free
thinking, to weaken mysticism, and to direct the idea of religious
brotherhood toward that of civic and economic solidarity, and to extend
the idea of such solidarity beyond denominational limits.
Note. The best means for the latter could be the familiarizing
of our sectarians with the related development of Protestant sects and
the cooperative movement in Western Europe, particularly in Holland and
Great Britain, from the Anabaptists and Socinians (whose teaching
reached the Ukraine in the 16th and 17th centuries) to Robert Owen and
the present-day workers' unions.
- With persons of the military profession, members of Free
Union should seek to enlarge the idea of that group that it is the
soldier's duty to defend his homeland from outside enemies to the idea
that it is necessary to defend the homeland from all that harms it,
including disastrous internal administration. At the same time military
personnel of Ukrainian origin should be reminded that their true home
land is now enslaved by a power which is harmful and alien to it. At
the same time that they encourage military personnel to refuse support
to a despotic government and to render real aid in the liberation of
Russia, and especially of the Ukraine, members of Free Union should
propagate the idea that, in the interests of true fraternity and
development, the army should not seize power, even in the event of
struggle against the government, but that it should only overthrow
violators of civil liberty and protect civil self-government against
all attempts upon it.
- Members of Free Union should make special efforts to be elected to 'arious offices and assemblies of peasant, noble or Zemstvo
institutions in the tillages, cities, districts and provinces in order
to direct the course of public affairs according to the aims of Free
Union, and in particular in order
- to promote public meetings and assemblies for petitions to the
government on the need to reorganize Russia on principles of political
- in the event the government is obdurate, to incite the
meetings and assemblies to refuse it support, e.g., to refuse to
perform the duties of taxation and recruitment, etc., now required of
them under the law, and finally to incite these meetings to direct
attempts to remove tsarist officials from the administration and to
attempts to bring about self-government on their own initiative,
calling upon the representatives of other areas to do the same.
- The main concern of Free Union at present and in the near
future should be to unite in all strata of the population sufficient
forces to compel the
autocratic government of Russia to concede to its enslaved population
the rights of man and citizen and to grant self-government. This would
necessitate first of all the coordination of zemstvo
and military forces. Even before these forces are fully assembled,
however, members of Free Union can, as circumstances allow, undertake
various types of action against the government: manifestoes,
disobedience, and even attacks to arouse the people and spread among
them the conviction that the government of Russia must be changed in
accordance with the ideas of Free Union. Its members can also
participate in similar actions initiated by other groups.
Note. When members of Free Union incite others to actions such
as described above, they must not fail to share in the responsibility
The Society's Inner Organization
This will largely depend on fortuitous circumstances and therefore
cannot be precisely determined in advance, and of course cannot be made