- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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is to seek to use the Consular authority for their own purposes.
Consuls receive requests to " demand from " a given foreign firm
certain sums of money, to " order " a certain person to act in a given
manner, or to " send back to Russia " a husband who has deserted
his wife, or to order the son of a doting mother to conduct himself
properly and to write to her regularly, etc., etc. Unfortunately, a Consul
has no compulsory police power, and, therefore such requests are
impossible of fulfilment. Persons residing in a foreign country are
only extradited through the ordinary diplomatic channels for
particularly serious crimes, provided for in special extradition treaties,
while in cases of disputes between Russian and foreign business houses,
the Consular participation can only consist in recommending a suitable
lawyer or attorney, who will conduct the case in the proper court. A
Consul may take upon himself commissions entrusted to him by
private persons in the form of simple enquiries, or in their name acquaint
third parties of certain facts, but he must refrain from taking any
actions which enter the competency of a solicitor. Some applicants
even believe that their Consul is imbued with power which enables him
to interfere with local laws. When an enterprising young Russian was
punished with imprisonment at Johannesburg for illegally selling
spirits to the negroes, his mother in Russia began to bombard the
Consulate-General in London with letters in which she begged the
Consulate to " rescue her son from prison " and " to issue the necessary
orders with regard to her son who was incarcerated in prison," etc., etc.
All civilised countries recognise the principle of mutual solidarity in
the application of the International Rule that judicial power rests
with the territorial authorities. The Consul, in his official capacity,
must bow to the local judicial decrees if they are in accordance with
the laws of the land. He is, therefore, not only practically but even
theoretically powerless to interfere with the course of the law in
favour of his fellow countrymen who are at cross purposes with the
laws of the country owing to an infraction of the rules of local order.

Consulates are frequently resorted to by persons possessing
no documents to prove their identity or nationality. When
interrogated they reply that the Consul may make enquiries at the place to
which they belong. But the Consul is not by any means obliged to
trace the identity of applicants by correspondence with the authorities
in Russia ; on the contrary, the person applying for assistance is bound
to prove his identity to the Russian Consul on th6 basis of documents.

Nor is it the duty of Consular Officers to approach the home
authorities with requests for passports for private persons or for the
extension of such terms of such passports, nor to conduct
correspondence with regard to the military duties of individuals ; in a word,
he may not interfere with the relations between individual Russian
subjects and the authorities in Russia, unless the former for some
reasons, for instance, by being illiterate, require Consular assistance.

The assistance which Consular Officers are obliged to render Russian
subjects abroad, is often interpreted by the client to include their
countenance and support in evading the payment of passport dues,
customs duties, taxes, etc., in fact in acting against the interests of
the Government and in defiance of the laws of their own native land.
No less strange is the not infrequent demand for assistance and

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