Document: "Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia" (November 1917)

Source: Basil Dmytryshyn, U.S.S.R.: A Concise History (New York: Schribner, 1978), pp. 411-2.

The October revolution of the workmen and peasants began under the common banner of emancipation.

The Peasants are being emancipated from the power of the landowners, for their is no longer the landowner's property right in the land -- it has been abolished. The soldiers and sailors are being emancipated from the power of autocratic generals, for generals will henceforth be elective and subject to recall. The workingmen are being emancipated from the whims and arbitrary will of the capitalists, for henceforth there will be established the control of the workers over mills and factories. Everything living and capable of life is being emancipated from the hateful shackles.

There remain only the peoples of Russia, who have suffered and are suffering oppression and arbitrariness, and whose emancipation must immediately be begun, whose liberation must be effected resolutely and definetly.

The United will of the Congresses, the Council of the People's Commissaries, resolved to base their activity upon the question of the nationalities of Russia, as expressed in the following principles:

  1. The equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Russia.
  2. The right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination, even to the point of separation and the formation of an independent state.
  3. The abolition of any and all national and national-religious privileges and disabilities.
  4. The free development of national minorities and ethnographic groups inhabiting the territory of Russia.

The concrete decrees which follow will be framed immediately upon the formation of a commission for the affairs of nationalities.