January 1 (13), 1864, the Statute on the provincial and district territorial institutions was approved. It introduced the all-estate elected local government in districts and provinces.
Territorial (zemstvo) reform was part of the transformations in the internal life of the country, caused by the abolition of serfdom and implemented in 1860s - 1870s. Peasant reform inevitably led to the need for changes in central and local government.
Preparatory work to implement the territorial reform started in 1859. In March, a special committee on the provincial and district institutions was established under the Ministry of Interior. It consisted of high officials from the Ministry of Justice, State Property, Foreign Affairs; the committee chairman was N. A. Milutin. In May 1861, the commission was headed by Count P. A. Valuev.
The objective to develop new principles of self-government was the need to "involve in direct management of the matters relating to economic uses and needs of each province and each disctric, the local population through the election of its representatives." The basis of the territorial (zemstvo) reform included two new principles – participation of all estates and appointment by election.
The bodies managing the affairs of the local economy in provinces and districts were divided into administrative and executive. Administrative bodies were represented by zemstvo assemblies formed of town-councilors which were elected from three curiae: private landowners, urban voters, rural societies. The first curia included landowners who had at least 200 dessiatinas of land, or possessed real property worth more than 15, 000 rubles, or had an annual income of more than 6, 000 rubles.
The second curia consisted of merchants of all three guilds, who owned real estate worth at least 500 rubles, as well as owners of industrial enterprises with annual revenues of more than 6, 000 rubles. The third curia had no property qualification, but the elections there were multistage: each rural society elected its representatives in township gatherings, who elected electors, who, in their turn, elected town-councilors in district assemblies. Zemstvo executive bodies were Zemstvo boards - provincial and district, consisting of a chairman and several members each. Elections to Zemstvo bodies were held every three years.
The range of matters the territorial institutions were in charge of included the management of the property, funds and cash taxes; arrangement and maintenance of buildings and structures owned by Zemstvo; maintenance of railways; measures to ensure national food; management of zemstvo charitable institutions and other measures of charity; administration of mutual Zemsky property insurance; care about the development of local commerce and industry; support, primarily in economic terms, of public education, public health and prisons; assistance to prevent loss of livestock; imposing, collection and expense of local taxes to meet the needs of a province or a district. The Statute specifically stated: "Zemsky institutions’ regulations and orders cannot exceed the bounds of the specified matters; according to this, they do not interfere in the affairs belonging to the circle of the actions of government, estate and public authorities and institutions. Head of the province has the right to stop the execution of any order of zemstvo institutions, contrary to the laws or the general public good."
The Statute force extended over 33 provinces and did not affect regions such as Siberia, the Baltic region, western Russian provinces, the Caucasus, Central Asia and some others. In 1865, district councils opened in 19 provinces; in 1866 - in 9 more; by 1871 - in the rest of the provinces. In 1875, the district council was introduced in Ufa province. In 1876, the district council opened in the Don Cossack region, but in 1882 it was abolished. In 9 more provinces zemstvo self-government was introduced in 1911-1913.
From 1866, the government adopted a number of laws and regulations restricting the function of district councils: censorship for Zemsky publications was established; provincial district councils were prohibited from communicating with each other; district councils were obliged to pay all their correspondence, etc. June 12 (24), 1890 a new Statute on territorial institutions came into force. It changed the electoral procedure and strengthened the custody of local boards by the governor and the Interior Minister.
Despite the fact that the jurisdiction of district councils was limited to economic sphere, political issues played an important role in their work. In order to enhance and strengthen the territorial self-government, Zemstvo assemblies actively discussed the issues of the central Zemsky institution, Zemstvo involvement in legislative work, submitted petitions to convene an all-Russian Zemstvo Congress, etc.
Financial basis of zemstvoes were taxes on income from commercial and industrial establishments, forests, land, and income from assets and capitals of zemstvo, duties on the use of zemstvo’s facilities and services, etc.; they were joined by grants from the Treasury and private donations. The main item of expenses was obligatory service execution and financing of education and health authorities. Lack of local means and limited sources of income, as well as administrative supervision bound the work of zemstvoes. However, in these conditions, they successfully solved their social, economic and cultural problems, attracting professionally trained specialists - doctors, teachers, agronomists, engineers, insurance agents, statisticians.
Lit.: Верещагин А. Н. Земский вопрос в России: Политико-правовые отношения. М., 2002; Гармиза В. В. Подготовка земской реформы 1864. М., 1957; Захарова Л. Г. Земская контрреформа 1890 г. М., 1968; Морозова Е. Н. У истоков земской реформы. Саратов, 2000; Пирулова Н. М. Земская интеллигенция и её роль в общественной борьбе. М., 1986.
From the Presidential library materials:
Веселовский Б. Б. История земства за сорок лет. СПб., 1909. Т. 2: Экономическия мероприятия земств. Продовольственное дело. Ветеринария и страхование скота. Взаимное земское страхование от огня. Дорожное дело. Земская почта. Земские телефоны;