Dispute concerning customary rights to gather hay, 1901

Note, compiled in the 1st Department of the Ministry of Justice, on resistance from the peasants from the villages of Bunegino and Prudovka of Mamontov volost' on taking hay from disputed land.

1901, not earlier than 2 July, not later than 10 October.

Peasants from Bunegino and Prudovka villages, Mamontov volost', Makar'ev uezd, Kostroma guberniya have for many years been using hay meadows which are part of the Sokol'sko-Zapashinsky estate, and they have more than once seized land from other parts of that estate. These arbitrary actions by the peasants in question did not stop even after the Kostroma district court had ruled, in a case brought by the owners of that estate, the nobles Zavadsky and Rymvid-Mitskevich, that the latter had property rights over the above-mentioned meadows and other pieces of land. This land was brought into their possession on 3 May 1899. When in September of that year the Sokol'sko-Zapashinsky estate was transferred to the peasants Shurtygin and Lazurkin, these hay meadows were rented out to the peasant Artemiy Kholkin and other persons, in order that they could start to gather in the hay on 25 June 1900.

Rumours had been circulating that peasants from the villages of Bunegino and Prudovka were intending to prevent the tenants from exercising their rights and were proposing themselves to gather hay from the meadows. At the request of Zavirsky, the steward for Shurtygin and Lazurkin, on 25 June last year the head of the 4th police district Krotkov, as well as the volost' and village elders accompanied by police officers and peasant police auxiliaries, 70 persons in all, attended Sokol'sko-Zapashinsky estate and went to the hayfields alongside the banks of the Mocha river. After the head of police had arrived, peasants from Bunegino and Prudovka villages appeared. From among their number Ivan Mordanov stepped forward and told the police chief that these peasants considered that the hay meadow which had been let to Kholkin was theirs, and although the court had removed this patch of land from their possession, they had complained to the court of appeal about this decision, which they considered to be incorrect. They were therefore not going to allow the tenant to gather the hay, and they would take home with them what had already been gathered. After a certain time peasants arrived at the hayfield from other neighbouring villages Trushino, Krutyako, Volkovo, Vysokovo, Kuznetsovo, Markovo and Mamontovo. After a significant crowd had gathered in this way, the peasant Emelyan Ivanov led it to demand that the police chief remove the tenant's workers from hay-gathering. On hearing that the police chief refused to carry out this request, some of the peasants, influenced by the words of Mordanov and Ivanov "come on, let's go, let's stop them mowing" forced their way through the cordon of peasant auxiliary police and began to prevent the tenant's workers from cutting the grass; some peasants lay down in front of the scythes before driving the workers away, taking the cut grass from the carts and taking it home with them.

In view of what the preliminary investigation into this case has revealed, that sixteen peasants from Prudovka village were guilty of resisting the police chief and police officers, these peasants, including Ivan Mordanov and Emelyan Ivanov, were brought before the court. Thereafter, by decision of the Moscow Appellate Court, on 20 December they were brought before that court in the presence of representatives of their social estate. They were charged with obstructing the chief of police of the 4th district of Makar'ev uezd in carrying out his instructions, having conspired to do so beforehand. They had used violence against the officers and auxiliaries accompanying him - that is, they had violated article 271 of the Criminal Code.

This case was decided by the Moscow Appellate Court, in the presence of representatives of their social estate, at its session on 20 February 1901. All the accused were found guilty of the crimes detailed above and were sentenced as follows: Ivan Mordanov and Emelyan Ivanov, to three months' imprisonment, and all the others to one month's detention apiece.

The accused Emelyan Ivanov brought an appeal against the sentence which was not accepted by the Senate. Consequently, the sentence of the Moscow Appellate Court was enforced against all sixteen defendants.

Archive source: TsGIAL 1405, MYu, op. 102, 1901 g., d. 6608, pp. 29-32
Published source: A V Shapkarin, Krest'yanskoe dvizhenie v Rossii v 1890-1900 gg. Sbornik dokumentov. Izd. sotsial'no-ekonomicheskoy literatury: Moscow, 1959, pp. 523-524.