The State Duma as a legislative and advisory institution of the Russian empire was established under the Manifesto of Emperor Nicholas II of August 6, 1905 ‘On establishment of State Duma’.
During the October political strike Nicholas II issued the Manifesto of October 17, 1905 under which the State Duma was attributed legislative rights. ‘Statute on election to the State Duma’ and election law of December 11, 1905 defined the objectives and terms of Duma functioning and the order of its members election.
The State Duma was in charge of preparation and preliminary consideration of bills; examination of state revenues and costs along with financial estimates of ministries and chief departments; cases on disposal of properties and a part of state income, on construction of public railways, on establishment of companies on shares; cases submitted for consideration by imperial orders; estimates and apportionment of Zemstvo duties. The State Duma could make inquires to ministers regarding the acts that it considered illegal.
The State Duma was elected for 5 years term. But it could be dissolved by the emperor before the end of this period. The emperor could also appoint new elections and the time of convocation. Women, the military and the urban poor were deprived of the elective right. The elections were held in accordance with curia system. With this objective four curia were created: of landowners; urban; of workers and of peasants. During the elections of February – March 1906 the most successful was the Constitutional and Democratic Party (of cadets). On April 27 (May 10), 1906 in Throne Room of Winter Palace in St. Petersburg took place a state reception for the deputies of the First State Duma of the Russian Empire. After the welcoming address of Nicholas II the deputies went to Tauride Palace which became their work residence. Cadet S. A. Muromtsev was elected the Duma’s chairman.
The first Russian State Duma of the Russian Empire had functioned for 72 days. The central issue was agrarian problem: deputies proposed several projects but all of them were rejected by the Ministers Council as ‘inadmissible’.
On the whole within 2,5 months of work Duma had accepted 391 inquiries regarding illegal actions of government and approved two bills: on death penalty abolishment (it was initiated by the deputies) and on allocation of 15 million rubles to those having suffered from bad harvest (submitted by the government). On July 8, 1906 the government decided to dissolve the Duma and organize new elections.
Within 11 years there had been elected four State Duma’s convocations. On October 6 (19), 1917 the State Duma of the fourth convocation was dissolved by the Provisional government due to the establishment of November 12 (25) the date of the election to the Constituent Assembly on and the beginning of election campaign.
Lit.: Государственная дума Российской империи 1906-1917 гг. [Электронный ресурс] // Томская областная универсальная научная библиотека им. А. С. Пушкина. Б. д. URL: http://tomskhistory.lib.tomsk.ru/page.php?id=1154; Государственная дума Российской империи [Электронный ресурс] // Кругосвет. 2007. URL: http://slovari.yandex.ru/dict/krugosvet/article/9/94/1010440.htm; Государственная дума России (1906-1917) [Электронный ресурс] // Государственная дума Федерального собрания Российской Федерации. Б. д. URL: http://www.duma.gov.ru/100let/4_1_1.html; Демин В. А. Государственная Дума России, 1906-1917: механизм функционирования. М., 1996; Смирнов А. Ф. Государственная Дума Российской Империи, 1906-1917: Ист.-прав. очерк. М., 1998; Цитрон А. 72 дня первого русского парламента. СПб., 1906.
Based on the Presidential Library’s materials: