Autonomists' Union

Autonomists' Union (Soiuz avtonomistiv). An organization representing the peoples of the Russian Empire that was established during the Revolution of 1905 and demanded the decentralization of the empire on the basis of national autonomy and federalism. The union was launched by a congress in Saint Petersburg in November 1905 headed by Jan Baudouin de Courtenay and attended by representatives of the Azerbaijanians, Belarusians, Armenians, Georgians, Estonians, Jews, Kirghizians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles, Tatars, and Ukrainians. An autonomist faction was formed at the First Russian State Duma, and on 11 May 1906 it adopted a program of ‘mutual aid and defense, as well as the realization of the idea of autonomy on democratic principles.’ The Autonomists' Union consisted of 120 members of the State Duma. The leader of the faction was A. Lednicki, a Pole, and the vice-chairman was Illia Shrah. With the dissolution of the First State Duma the union ceased to exist. Attempts to re-establish the union during the Second State Duma and then in 1910 did not go beyond the preparatory stage. The idea of an autonomists' union resurfaced in 1917 when the Congress of the Peoples of Russia was convened in Kyiv.

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