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The Prague Manifesto (in Russian: Пражский Манифест) is a document that was created by several members of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia, an anti-communist coalition of former Soviet military and citizens who aimed to overthrow Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and establish a non-communist government in Russia, in alliance with Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
The Manifesto opened with a preamble that harshly criticized Stalin for crimes against the peoples of the USSR, including a genocide of the population via repression and engineered famines, and suppression of personal freedoms. However, the same preamble also accused the Allies ("the plutocracies of the United States and England") of collaborating with Stalin in trying to conquer, not liberate, Europe.
The authors later justified some of the more objectionable parts of the Manifesto by claiming that they had been included to appease the Nazi propagandists. The authors refused to include antisemitic rhetoric, despite heavy pressure from the Nazi propaganda department, although anti-Allied sentiment was included.
General Vlasov himself had been noted to criticise the extermination of the Jews to German commanders (Wilfreid Strik-Strikfeldt's memoirs, "Against Stalin and Hitler"), and had several close collaborators who were Jewish (Mileti Zikov, Vlasov's first speech writer, Captain Boyarskiy, General Boris Shteifon of the Russian Corps). During an interview with ROA General and committee member Georgii Malenkov by a neutral journalist about his views on the "Jewish problem", Malenkov remarked "We do not feel that Russia has any Jewish problem that needs to be addressed".
The Manifesto focused on uniting not only ethnic Russians but all peoples of Russia/USSR, i.e. Ukrainians, Belarusians, Balts, Kalmyks, Armenians, Georgians, Circassians, and other such nationalities inhabiting the Soviet Union. Many representatives from these nationalities were a part of the Committee and signed the Manifesto.
One of the most notable parts of the Manifesto is the 14 points upon which a new democratic Russia would be built. These points guaranteed the freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, conscience, equal rights for women and all peoples of Russia (and the rights of the latter for self determination) – in other words, many of the same rights that were already guaranteed by the text of the existing Soviet Constitution, but disregarded on a daily basis by Stalin's government. Unlike the Soviet Constitution, however, the Prague Manifesto was anti-communist. It called for the abolishment of collective farms, amidst other things. Many aspects of the Manifesto closely resemble the political program of the Russian emigre organization NTS, of whom several of Vlasov's key men were members (i.e. General Feodor Trukhin).
The Manifesto specified that an "honorable peace" with Germany "not disturbing the honor" of Russia would be concluded. It also stated that the help of the German ally was "welcome" as it provided "the only realistic possibility" of removing Stalin from power.
General Vlasov, the head of the Committee and the commander of the Russian Liberation Army, proclaimed the Prague Manifesto on the 14th of November, 1944, in the city of Prague. The city was chosen because all major Russian cities at this point were already under Soviet control, and Prague was a Slavic city. Ironically, six months later the first division of the Russian Liberation Army participated in the liberation of Prague from the Nazi occupying forces in concert with Czech partisans.
The Fourteen Points
The fourteen points, excerpted from the manifesto:
As the basis for a new government for the peoples of Russia the committee places the following major principles:
1)The equality of all peoples of Russia and a real right for national development, self determination, self rule, and governmental independence.
2)The confirmation of a popular worker front, before which the interests of the government are subordinate to the goals of raising the well-being and development of the nation.
3)The preservation of peace and the establishment of peaceful relations with all nations of the world, an all round development of international collaboration.
4) Wide ranging government actions for the strengthening of the family and marriage. A true equality for women.
5) The liquidation of forced labor and the granting to the laborers a real right to free labor which creates their material well-being, the confirmation of a wage for all types of labor in an amount that can support an appropriate standard of living.
6) The liquidation of collective farms, the free return of land to the private ownership of farmers. The freedom to determine labor land usage. The freedom to use the products of one’s personal labor, the abolishment of forced requisitions, and the cancellation of all debts to the Soviet government.
7) The establishment of protected private labor ownership. The reestablishment of trade, crafts, domestic industry, the granting of the right of private initiative and an opportunity for it to participate in the economic life of the nation.
8) Granting the intelligencia the opportunity to freely create for the well-being of their people.
9) Granting social justice and defense of laborers from any exploitation, regardless of their origin and former activities.
10) The creation for all without exception the real right for free education, medical care, vacation, and senior welfare.
11) The destruction of the regime of terror and force. Liquidation of forceful repopulations and mass exiles. The establishment of a true freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, press. A guarantee of the protection of person, property, and home. The equality of all before the law, the independence and clarity of the court.
12) The liberation of political opponents of Bolshevism and the return to the motherland from the jails and camps of all who were repressed for their battle against Bolshevism. No revenge and persecution for those who stop their battle for Stalin and Bolshevism, regardless of whether this was done by necessity or by conviction.
13) The reestablishment of national property ruined during the war – cities, villages, factories, and plants at cost to the government.
14) Government support of invalids of the war and their families.
Some[who?] have criticised the manifesto and the committee for being created under the sponsorship of the Nazi regime. Critics argue that collaboration with this regime automatically discredits the movement's goals and aspirations. Defenders of the manifesto claim that the sponsorship of the Nazi government was reluctant on one end; on the other it was necessary as the movement could not be selfsustained in the conditions that were prevalent at the time (General Vlasov during a speech to Eastern Workers said "The assistance of Germany is the only realistic option for us to succeed"), while support of democratic regimes was impossible since they were collaborating with Stalin at the time.
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