Union of the Russian People
The Union of Russian People (URP) (Russian: Союз Русского Народа [СРН], Soyuz Russkogo Naroda [SRN]) was a loyalist extreme right nationalist political party, the most important among Black-Hundredist monarchist political organizations in the Russian Empire between 1905 and 1917.
Founded in October–November 1905 in Petersburg, URP soon showed itself as a counter-revolutionary party of reactionary representatives of the urban lower middle class and middle class, landowners, nationalist intelligentsia, clergy, workers and peasantry. Its leaders organized a series of political assassinations of deputies and other representatives of parties which supported the Russian Revolution of 1905. Some modern academic researchers view URP activities as an example of fascism or proto-fascism. Soon after the February Revolution of 1917 URP was suspended and its leader Alexander Dubrovin was arrested.
1905: creation and promotion
The idea to create the union originated between several public figures of Russia whom entered its political arena before the 1905 Russian Revolution. Among them were active members of the "Russian Assembly" ("Russkoye sobraniye", Russian: Русское собрание) Vladimir Purishkevich and Alexander Dubrovin.
On 30 October [O.S. 17 October] 1905 the October Manifesto was issued, allowing the formation of political parties. Five days after Purishkevich, A. A. Maikov (a son of poet Apollon Maykov), Pavel Bulatzel, Baranov, Vladimir Gringmut and some others gathered at Dubrovin's home. At this meeting they concurred with Dubrovin's idea to set up a political organization (Dubrovin opposed to calling it a party). In a couple of weeks initiators worked out an organizational structure, devised a program, and on 8 November [O.S. 26 October] 1905 formally announced the founding of the Union of the Russian People. Dubrovin was electing its chairman.
Besides merchants and priests who supported ideas, and right-radical organizations like Moscow Banner-carriers, Dubrovin was in contact with senior officials and secret services of Russia. Minister of the Interior Pyotr Durnovo was completely in the know about the foundation of the URP while his subordinates actively worked upon creation of an open organization to counteract the influence of revolutionaries and liberals among the masses. Around the same the head of the political section of gendarmes department Pyotr Rachkovsky reported his chief, colonel (later general) Alexander Gerasimov about such attempts and proposed Gerasimov to introduce him to Dubrovin. Their meeting took place in late October 1905 in the apartment of Rachkovsky.
With a powerful administrative support and funding at their disposal URP managed to organize and conduct its first mass public event less than in a fortnight after its creation. The first public rally of URP with about 2,000 attendance was held on November, 21 [O.S. 8] 1905 in Mikhailovsky Manege, a popular venue in Petersburg. Orchestra was playing, the church choir sang "Praise God" and "Tzar Divine"; leaders of URP (Dubrovin, Purishkevich, Bulatsel, Nikolsky) addressed the mob from a rostrum erected in the centre of the arena. Special guests from the "Russian Assembly": Prince M. N. Volkonsky, journalist from "Novoye Vremya" Nicholas Engelhardt and two bishops also welcomed the new party with their speeches.
Members of the tzar's entourage like Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, Alexander Trepov, many of government and clergy "unquestionably welcomed a movement such as this". Sergei Witte was a rare occasion among high-ranking officials being "unequivocally hostile to the URP" (in his memoirs he calls Dubrovin a "high-handed and abusive leader").
By the end of 1905 URP started to absorb many of the smaller unions and leagues that had been springing up in the provinces. Usually, a branch (Russian: отдел) was set, becoming a primary unit of the URP regional structure. On February, 4 [O.S. January, 22] 1906 two local branches were opened. In Novgorod it was set by eparchial inspector of parochial schools a.s.c. P. N. Spassky and two students, V. V. Yermolaev and A. D. Muretov; in Moscow — by N. N. Oznobishin and V. A. Balayev. Odessa branch was set up on February, 27 [O.S. 4] 1906 with Prince A. I. Konovnitsyn, N. N. Rodzevich and B. A. Pelikan. In a relatively short time URP became numerically and organizationally the strongest of the right-wing movements and parties.
By 1907 it is said about up to 900 local URP branches in many cities, towns and even villages. Apart from abovenamed, the largest were in Kiev, Saratov and Astrakhan; Volhynian Governorate is also mentioned among the largest by the representation of URP.
URP’s became the main instigator (through meetings, gatherings, lectures, manifestations and mass public prayers) of the pogroms against Jews (especially in 1906 in Gomel, Yalta, Białystok, Odessa, Sedlets and other cities), in which the URP members often took active part. In October 1906, they formed a black-hundredist organization called Ob’yedinyonniy russkiy narod (Объединённый русский народ, or Russian People United).
In 1908 URP members from clergy claimed for a right to carry weapons, however this petition was denied.
In 1908-1910, the infighting in the URP broke the organization into several smaller entities, which were in constant conflict with each other - Soyuz Mikhaila Arkhangela (Союз Михаила Архангела, or Union of Archangel Michael), Soyuz russkogo naroda (Союз русского народа, or Union of the Russian People), Vserossiysky dubrovinsky Soyuz russkogo naroda v Peterburge (Всероссийский дубровинский Союз русского народа в Петербурге, or Dubrovin’s All-Russian Union of the Russian People in Petersburg) etc. After the February Revolution of 1917, all of the black-hundredist organizations were forcefully dissolved and banned.
The antisemitic spirit was brought into URP by its ideological core which seceded from the Russian assembly URP chairman Alexander Dubrovin, Vladimir Purishkevich, Pavel Krushevan, Pavel Bulatsel and some other "radical temperament anti-Semitic rabble rousers".  The methods of URP were not what the Russian assembly considered proper conduct. Save lawyer and journalist Bulatsel, another leading intellectual of URP was B. V. Nikolsky, privatdozent (senior lecturer) at Petersburg University.
Party leaders and bodies
The supreme body of URP was called Main Council (Russian: Главный Совет, "Glavny Soviet"). Its chairman Alexander Dubrovin had two deputies: noble landowner and future Duma Deputy Vladimir Purishkevich and engineer A. I. Trishatny. From six other board members (Pavel Bulatzel, George Butmi, P. P. Surin and others) four belonged to the merchant estate, and two were peasants by origin. A merchant from Petersburg I. I. Baranov was a treasurer of URP, and barrister Sergei Trishatny (elder brother of a deputy chairman) performed as secretary.
Later the Main Board increased to 12 members, among which S. D. Chekalov, M. N. Zelensky, Ye. D. Golubev, N. N. Yazykov, G. A. Slipak are mentioned.
URP’s chief newspaper was Russkoe znamya (Russian Banner), a newspaper which first published notorious "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". In provincial Russia Pochayevsky listok (The Pochayev Circular) was the most popular URP newspaper. URP also printed its propaganda materials in Moskovskiye Vedomosti (Moscow News), Grazhdanin (Citizen), Kievlyanin (Kievan) and others.
Revival and current activity
This organisation has seen a revival around 2005 in Russia now and has many followers and 17 offices in large cities. The first chairman of the refounded group was Vyacheslav Klykov. The Union's main activities can be described as national patriotic with strong emphasis on the Russian Orthodox Church and revival of Russian traditions gone into the past after the October Revolution.
- Rawson, Don C. (March 1995). Russian rightists and the revolution of 1905. Cambridge Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies (No. 95). Cambridge University Press. pp. xv, 312, 1 map, 28 tables. ISBN 978-0-521-48386-5.
- Klier J.D., Lambrozo S. (1992). Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History. Cambridge University Press. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-521-40532-4.
- John D. Klier (2005). "Black Hundreds". In Richard S. Levy. Antisemitism: a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. ABC-CLIO. p. 828. ISBN 1-85109-444-X.
- Rogger, Hans (1986). "Was there a Russian Fascism? The Union of Russian People". Jewish policies and right-wing politics in imperial Russia. University of California Press. p. 289. ISBN 0-520-04596-3.
- Ascher, Abraham (1986). The Revolution of 1905: Authority restored. University of California Press. pp. 240, 276, 285, 358. ISBN 0-520-04596-3.
- John D. Klier (2005). "Black Hundreds". In Richard S. Levy. Antisemitism: a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. — P. 71–72.
- Hans Rogger (1986). "Was there a Russian Fascism? The Union of Russian People". Jewish policies and right-wing politics in imperial Russia. pp. 203–232.
- Rawson, Don C. (1995). Russian rightists and the revolution of 1905. p. 59.
- "KIEV REPORTS POGROMS; Pillage Subordinated to Murder in Massacres by "Black Hundred."". The New York Times. 21 May 1922.
- "… Две силы создают погромы: во-первых, черносотенные организации, к тому времени сильно окрепшие, и, во-вторых, крайний правительственный антисемитизм. Первый сам по себе мне представляется не страшным, значение второго было очень грозно. Правительственный антисемитизм, исходя из центра в виде отдельных проявлений известного настроения, по иерархической лестнице доходил до низов правительственного механизма вылитым в прямой призыв к избиениям евреев; оттуда призыв подтверждался и выполнялся черносотенными кружками." (AA. Lopukhin (А.А. Лопухин) "Отрывки из воспоминаний" 1923, p.85
- ПАНИХИДЫ ПО Т. ШЕВЧЕНКЕ И ЧЕРНОСОТЕННОЕ ДУХОВЕСТВО. Украинская Жизнь. — М., 1912. — № 5 — С. 82.
- Hans Rogger (1986). "The Formation of the Russian Right: 1900–1906". Jewish policies and right-wing politics in imperial Russia. pp. 191–193.
- Link text, Союз Русского Народа.