1917 - Appeal by Nikon*, Bishop of Eniseysk and Krasnoyarsk, for support for the new authorities

3 March 1917

Beloved in Christ fathers, brother and sisters - the shepherds and flock of the word of Christ - may the peace and love of God the Provider be upon you!

The enemies of the Russian people, certain representatives of the old power, have surpassed themselves in their lawlessness and overfilled the cup of patience of the State Duma, the people's representatives. The irresponsible government, the bureaucratic regime, infamous for its inability to govern the nation, especially at this difficult time of enemy offensive, has fallen. The State Duma has resisted yet another dissolution prepared for it by certain shameless ministers, who were deceiving the Sovereign in order to continue their lawlessness and abominations behind the people's backs. The Duma has taken power into capable hands.

The State Duma has inherited a difficult legacy from the irresponsible government! The mood and the destruction have become unbearable everywhere. The general dissatisfaction of all classes has turned into indignation. Impoverishment has become appalling. The provisioning of our valiant army is in chaos, the markets have emptied. In rich Russia, which fed half the world with its grain, there is no bread. Our country's bountiful livestock herds once supplied the markets of our neighbours near and far, now we have no meat. The black cloud of rising prices has enveloped all our lives. The old authorities proved unable to win the trust of the people needed for self-sacrifice. In a hard time of war, this could only multiply our internal enemies, discontented and embittered. Even the feeding of our glorious army, already in its third year of defending the honour and dignity of our Motherland, has fallen into disarray. Trust in the authorities, belief in law and the unshakeability of the state order have disappeared...

And, by the grace of God who provides for us, a new order has begun. We have a responsible government. This newly-born power needs our complete trust, our full support. Let us then tirelessly and calmly help this calm, firm and honest power - may it be strengthened for the good of all the people! Let us not only through fear, but through conscience help the new government in any way we can, to establish order and banish destruction...

We, the spiritual pastors of our flocks, responsible for the faithful, bear a special responsibility in this great cause. We, the fathers, have the great duty to explain to our flocks the full importance of the historical moment through which our Motherland is living. This moment has much in common with that time, when in Nizhniy Novgorod the words rang out: "We shall pawn our wives and children, but we shall redeem and save our Fatherland!"

By our words and our example we must help the people to join with the government established in Petrograd with open hearts and open granaries, calmly and sincerely... It is vital that complete order be observed everywhere, that our markets be filled with consumer goods - bread, meat and other foodstuffs. It is necessary that the provision of the army and the home front be secured. We must give up not only our surpluses, but also a part of our essentials. Now is not the time for selfish calculation and profit, self-sacrifice is now absolutely necessary. Otherwise all will crumble into dust, to the gain of our enemies and the detriment of our Motherland...

Fathers, brother and sisters! Your ravaged, exhausted Mother Russia calls for your aid! She calls on you to heal her wounds, inflicted upon her by the external foe and [most importantly] the regime. Let us abandon any selfish or partisan calculations, let us bring to the market from our granaries all that we can, let us work calmly for the Motherland, for the army, for victory, and for prosperity and eternal peace throughout the world!

Let us set to work - and may the peace and blessing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be upon us.

Nikon, Bishop of Eniseysk and Krasnoyarsk, 3 March 1917, Krasnoyarsk

[Original in GARF, f. 579, op. 1, d. 529, pp. 1, 1 ob. Published in Russian in O A Shashkova (compiler), Fevral'skaya revolyutsiya 1917 - sbornik dokumentov, Rossiyskiy gosudarstvennyy gumanitarnyy universitet, Moscow, 1996, pp. 198 - 199.]
*Bishop Nikon (real surname - Bezsonov) was born in 1871. He graduated from the Konstantinov Institute of Surveying and the Moscow Spiritual Academy. He then taught at the Novgorod Seminary. From 1899 he was the head curate of the Volynya Diocese, from which he was elected to the 4th State Duma. He belonged to the right-wing group. On being appointed Bishop of Eniseysk, on 23 February 1913 he arrived in Krasnoyarsk, where he declared that he would remain a member of the Duma. From this point of view the position adopted by Nikon after February is of indubitable interest. [From the commentary by O A Shashkova, p. 326.]