- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
288

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
288
It seems likely that local seif-government would be
to some extent successful, in enabling those things to
be done which were best calculated to promote the
prosperity and development of the separate districts.
But as things now are, while the Siberian towns have
communal self-government, this is not the case in the
country districts.
Two parties have therefore declared themselves in
Russia’s Siberian policy. Adherents of one party, who
form the majority of the inhabitants of Siberia, main
tain that in order to promote the prosperity of the
countiy it will inevitably be necessary to grant com
munal self-government (zemstvo) to the country dis
tricts, with power to decide all questions affecting the
daily interests of the commune and to levy communal
rates for the construction of roads, for schools, etc,
instead of this being done, as now, by the Government,
which collects all taxes. It is thought that this would
be both an easier and more satisfactory arrangement.
In opposition to this the adherents of the other
political view point out that Siberia has no aristocracy
and no large landowners, it is a country of peasants,
and the great majority of these do not possess the
necessary qualifications for the proposed self-govern
ment ; indeed, only a small fraction of them can read ;
the conditions would not correspond to those prevailing
in Russia, where there is an upper class to take the lead,
and it would be an unfortunate arrangement for Siberia
itself. But the former party holds up the government
of Viatka in Russia as a proof that this self-government
without an upper class is capable of leading to good
results. Viatka has a population exclusively of peasants
and, as regards order and development, it is considered
to be one of the best governments in Russia. The
government of Perm is also quoted.

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