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1826 Censorship Statute approved

22 June 1826

10 (22) June 1826 was approved the Statute of censorship, compiled by the Minister of Education, supporter of conservative views, Admiral Alexander S. Shishkov. The document went down in history as the "iron statute".

The new Statute of censorship formed the basis for ongoing reform of the censorship. It was five times longer than the first censorship statute of 1804 and consisted of 19 chapters and 230 sections. 11 chapters defined aims and objectives of censorship, outlined its organizational framework, in fact, it offered the first structure of censorship apparatus in Russian history. The remaining 8 chapters described in detail the nature, methods and techniques of censorship of various types of printed works.

According to the statute of 1826, the censorship was to control the three spheres of social, political and cultural life of society: rights and internal security, the direction of public opinion in accordance with the present circumstances and the types of government, science and education of youth.

Traditionally, censorship was entrusted to the Ministry of Education, and its activities were guided by the Main Directorate of censorship. "To help it and to manage censors" there was approved the Supreme Censorship Committee which included the Ministers of Education, Interior and Foreign Affairs; it controlled censorship committees in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Vilna, and Dorpat.

The right to censor, in addition, was also given to religious agency, academia and universities, some administrative, central and local institutions. This laid the scope for subjective censorship.

The Statute prohibited "any historical work in which the invaders to legitimate power, who received a fair sentence for their deeds, were presented as victims of a public good, deserving a better fate." In addition, under the ban were historical works, if they showed an "unfavorable attitude to monarchical rule," any comparison of forms of government and general discussion of the historical process.

Contemporaries noted with amazement that Shishkov once forbade not only all the Greek and Roman history, but the official "History of the Russian state" by Karamzin. From the philosophical books were allowed only textbooks: "other works of this kind, full of pernicious subtleties of modern times, were not allowed for print."

The new censorship statute was full of such details, which were not directly related to censorship and burdened the already huge text, for example, "works and manuscripts in the national language, which clearly violate rules and purity of the Russian language or are full of grammatical errors, will not be allowed for printing without proper correction by writers or translators."

The document presented detailed rules to guide not only censors, but also cited the rights and responsibilities of booksellers, holders of libraries for reading, printing and lithographs, as well as recommendations for bulletins and periodicals, Jewish books, etc.

Paragraph N115 of the Statute stated that "parts of works and translations having a double meaning were not allowed for printing if one of them contradicted censorship rules." This paragraph was totally inconsistent with the statute of 1804, and with later ones, where the censors, in the case of ambiguity, were instructed to accept it in a favorable sense.

The Statute of 1826, called the "iron" one in 1828 was replaced by a new Statute, relatively soft, built on the principle that censorship should not give "any direction to literature and the general opinion; it was only to prohibit the publication or sale of those works of art and science, which were harmful with regard to faith, the throne, good manners and personal honor of citizens."

Lit.: Жирков Г. В. История цензуры в России XIX-XX вв. М., 2011.

From the Presidential library materials:

Полное собрание законов Российской империи: Собрание 2. СПб., 1830. Т. 1: С 12 декабря 1825 по 1827. № 403. С. 550-571;

St. Petersburg Censorial Committee established // On this day. 14 July 1804;

Скабичевский А. М. Очерки истории русской цензуры: (1700-1863 г.). СПб., 1892. Гл. 10. С. 214;

Сборник постановлений и распоряжений по цензуре с 1720 по 1862 год: напечатан по распоряжению Министерства народного просвещения. СПб., 1862. Гл. 4. Устав о цензуре 1826 г. С. 125;

Энциклопедический словарь / под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. СПб., 1903. Т. 37a: Ходский — Цензура. С. 951.