The Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire was the highest executive authority of the Russian Empire, created in a new form by the highest decree of October 19, 1905 for the general "management and unification of the actions of the chief heads of departments on subjects of both legislation and higher state administration". The ministers ceased to be separate officials, responsible to the emperor, each only for their actions and orders.
|Совет министров Российской империи|
|Formed||October 19, 1905|
|Dissolved||February 27, 1917|
Earlier, in 1861, there was a body with the same name, chaired by the emperor, along with the Committee of Ministers. It considered cases that required not only the approval of the emperor, but also his personal presence in discussing them. The meetings were not regular and were appointed each time by the emperor.
The Council of Ministers was chaired by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers included:
- Minister of Internal Affairs
- Minister of Finance
- Minister of Ways of Communication
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Minister of Justice
- Minister of War
- Minister of Education
- Minister of the Imperial Court
- Maritime Minister
- Minister of Commerce and Industry
- Minister of Agriculture (until 1915 – Chief Governor of Agriculture and Land Management)
- State Comptroller
- Ober-Prosecutor of the Holy Synod
Chairmen of the Council of MinistersEdit
- Alexander II (1857—1881)
- Sergei Witte (October 19, 1905 – April 22, 1906)
- Ivan Goremykin (April 22 – July 8, 1906)
- Pyotr Stolypin (July 8, 1906 – September 1, 1911)
- Vladimir Kokovtsov (September 11, 1911 – January 30, 1914)
- Ivan Goremykin, again (January 30, 1914 – January 20, 1916)
- Boris Stürmer (January 20 – November 10, 1916)
- Alexander Trepov (November 10 – December 27, 1916)
- Nikolai Golitsyn (December 27, 1916 – February 27, 1917)
On November 24, 1861, the Council of Ministers was established in Russia as an advisory body on state affairs. Informally, the Council began to function since October 1857, and its first meeting was held on December 31, 1857.
The Council of Ministers was established for the "exclusive consideration in the Supreme presence of His Majesty" of cases requiring "general consideration," that is, belonging to several branches of government at the same time.
The Council of Ministers consisted of ministers and equivalent to them the chief administrative departments, the chairman of the State Council and the chairman of the Committee of Ministers, as well as other senior officials for the special purpose of the emperor. The Council was chaired by the emperor himself, who could introduce any questions for his consideration. All affairs were reported to the Council by the ministers by affiliation, and the clerical work was entrusted to the business manager of the Committee of Ministers. The Council of Ministers did not have its own office. At all meetings of the Council, the Secretary of State was present to present information on legislative matters from the affairs of the State Council. Meetings of the Council of Ministers were not regular and were appointed each time by the emperor.
The Council considered: “types and assumptions for the design and improvement of various parts entrusted to each Ministry and General Directorate”, “information on the progress of work on the design and improvement ...”, initial legislative assumptions followed by submission to the State Council, measures , requiring the general assistance of different departments, but not subject to consideration in other higher state institutions, information about the most important orders for each department, requiring “common co expressions ", the conclusions of the commissions created by the Emperor for the consideration of reports of ministries and main departments.
Since 1863, the number of cases submitted to the Council has sharply decreased, it gathered less and less, and after December 23, 1882, the meetings stopped altogether.
November 1, 1905 in accordance with the decree of Nicholas II "On measures to strengthen unity in the activities of ministries and main departments", the activities of the Council of Ministers were resumed. All ministries and main administrations were declared parts of the unified state administration.
The creation of the Council of Ministers in 1857–1861 did not lead to the emergence of a governing body capable of eliminating fragmentation and inconsistency in the actions of ministers and to ensure at least a relative unity of the activities of central government institutions. Since all power was concentrated in the hands of the Emperor, matters were decided mainly through the submission at the highest discretion of reports generally objectively incompatible with the principle of collegiality in management.
In 1905, in connection with the formation of the State Duma, the Council of Ministers was transformed. The reformed Council was entrusted with "directing and combining the actions of the chief heads of departments in subjects, both legislation and higher state administration".
The Council included the ministers of internal affairs, finance, justice, commerce and industry, means of communication, public education, military, maritime, imperial court and inheritances, foreign affairs, chief governor of land management and agriculture, the state controller and the chief procurator of the Synod. The heads of other departments participated in the meetings of the Council only in the consideration of cases directly related to the competence of their departments. The chairman of the Council of Ministers was not the emperor himself, as was previously the case, but the person appointed by him from among the ministers.
The office work of the Council of Ministers was conducted by its permanent office (in the 19th century, the office of the Council of Ministers was led by the office of the Committee of Ministers), headed by the head of the Council's affairs. Meetings of the Council began to be held regularly, several times a week and recorded in special journals.
The terms of reference of the Council of Ministers included: the direction of legislative work and preliminary consideration of the assumptions of ministries, departments, special meetings, committees and commissions on legislative issues submitted to the State Duma and the State Council, discussion of the ministerial proposals on the general ministerial structure and on the replacement of the main posts of higher and local government, consideration by the special orders of the emperor of affairs of state defense and foreign policy, as well as cases of the Ministry of the Imperial Court and the inheritance. In addition, the Council of Ministers had significant rights in the field of state budget and credit.
No general measure of control could be taken by the heads of departments other than the Council of Ministers, but the affairs of the state defense and foreign policy, as well as the affairs of the Ministry of the Imperial Court and the inheritances were removed from the Council’s jurisdiction – they were submitted to the Council of Ministers only for special reasons. the orders of the emperor or the heads of these departments. Outside the competence of the Council of Ministers was also the auditing activities of the State Audit Office, the Office of His Imperial Majesty, and the Office of His Own Imperial Majesty's for the institutions of Empress Mary.
In connection with the abolition of the Committee of Ministers in 1906, most of the functions left to the Committee passed to the Council of Ministers (introduction, extension and termination of the provisions on enhanced and emergency protection, designation of localities for the placement of exiles, strengthening the staff of the gendarmerie, the police, supervision of urban and local government, the establishment of companies, etc.). Later, in 1909, the so-called Small Council of Ministers was formed to consider these “committee cases”.
The Council of Ministers ceased operations on March 12, 1917 during the February Revolution. The functions of the Council of Ministers as the highest body of government passed to the Provisional Government, which was formed on March 15, 1917. It is worth noting that, along with the abdication of the throne, Emperor Nicholas II signed a decree appointing George Lvov Chairman of the Council of Ministers (March 15, 1917), but the Provisional Government in its declaration indicated that power was taken from the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, leaving the decree of Nicholas without attention.
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