1900. The Collection of Decrees for the Grand Duchy of Finland. Nr 22.

The Gracious Manifesto of His Imperial Majesty

concerning the introduction of the Russian language for official business
in certain departments of the Grand Duchy of Finland

Given in Peterhof, 20 (7) June, 1900

We NICHOLAS The Second, by the Grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat over All the Russias, Czar of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, etc., etc., etc.

make it thus known: after the Grand Duchy of Finland was united with the Russian Empire it was the will of Emperor Alexander I, highly blessed in memory, that the Russian language should after gradual steps be adopted as the principal language in matters concerning the administration of the region. This monarchical guideline, given in the interest of strengthening unity within the Empire, has not thus far been put into effect because of the unsufficient coverage of the Russian language in Finland. To remove this impediment various measures have already been taken, and recently, knowledge of the state language was proclaimed obligatory for to be employed in the highest positions in the region. Now, after having considered the time to be appropriate to recognize the Russian language its proper significance in official correspondence and in proceedings of the administrative departments of the Grand Duchy, WE gave the matter to a Special Conference appointed by US. The outcome of the Conference, in full compliance with OUR intentions, defined a gradual approach to its realization. The needs of private persons are honoured by making it possible for them to approach administration with their own language as freely as they do in their social and private lives. WE have therefore confirmed the conclusion of the Special Conference and order:

I. The Office of the State Secretary of the Grand Duchy of Finland, the Chancellery of the Governor-General for Finland and the Finnish Passport Expedition shall do business and take care of the official correspondence exclusively in the Russian language from Sept. 18 / Oct. 1, 1900.

II. The Imperial Senate of Finland (Economy department) has to prepare from Sept. 18 / Oct. 1, 1900, its original humble presentations with original reports and documents of correspondence to the Governor-General, set into a Russian language form. If necessary, a translation of the said propositions, statements and documents to the local language should be included in the original documents of the appropriate department of the Senate. From Sept. 18 / Oct. 1, 1903, the written and verbal reading of all matters in the Senate and its expeditions (excluding the Judicial Department) will take place in Russian following the rules down here: a) the original documents in the matter can be read in the language they have been written, b) when copies of decisions of the Senate will be given, a translation into Swedish or Finnish can be included in these, if the applicant so wishes, and c) for the period of five years counting from the date above, the chairman in the Senate's meetings can allow the members of the Senate to give verbal explanations in Swedish or Finnish.

III. From Sept. 18 / Oct. 1, 1905, the Administrative Boards subordinate to the Imperial Senate of Finland, the Governors, and their deputies, and the gubernatorial offices should do their correspondence with superior authorities like the Governor-General, the Senate etc. exclusively in Russian.

IV. In the administrative establishments of the Grand Duchy of Finland where the Russian language will be take into use in proceedings, applications received from private persons written in either of the local languages, should be accepted and treated in a proper way.

V. Applications and documents in Russian should be accepted in every administrative establishment of the Grand Duchy of Finland (Gracious decree of Dec. 3, 1866, and of April 4, 1887). If necessary, these applications and documents should be translated into a local language in accordance with the Gracious Decree of Dec. 3, 1866.

VI. The appropriate authorities should, under guidance and control by the Governor-General of Finland, in due time and course undertake such measures that the compositions of staff in establishments subordinate to them will, in due above mentioned time, can be brought to such so that they can take care of the proper practical use of the Russian language in the proceedings and correspondence within those departments.


Peterhof, 7 (20) of June 1900
Ministerial Secretary of State Plehwe

Translated from Finnish by Pauli Kruhse.

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