The tandem, following Alexander II’s path.

6 Mar 2011

In his speech to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom, President Dmitry Medvedev drew parallels between Tsar Alexander II’s reforms and the modernisation drive his currently engaged in. “In essence we are continuing a political course that was set 150 years ago.”  

 Medvedev told an audience in St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Palace. “Freedom cannot be put off another day.” “After 150 years, the feeling of serfdom remains in much of our consciousness. Even when we discuss questions important for society we get scared of taking decisions because this feeling of serfdom sits deep inside us,” said the deputy head of the ruling council of United Russia, Yury Shuvalov, to the Interfax news agency.

 Alexander II`s March 3, 1861 decree to end centuries of feudal ownership of peasants by landlords was accompanied by other major reforms like the creation of elected local councils and improvements in the legal system. “This was not the Soviet experiment but a project of normal, humane development, initiated by Alexander II,” Medvedev said. “From the historic point of view, it was he who was proved right. Not Nicholas I, not Stalin,” Medvedev added.

 The “liberal” reform of Alexander II’s early years in power was followed by nearly half a century of reaction, as his two imperial successors failed to develop the country economically or socially beyond the level of a backward country. Many historians also believe creation of an urban working class from the emancipation and loosening of political controls by Alexander was a direct cause of the Russian Revolution that ended imperial rule.

Article – Reuters

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