ORGANIZATION OF THE DIET
In this atmosphere of demoralization took place the preparations for the elections scheduled for the Russian Constitutional Convention, in which 12 delegates were to represent Bessarabia. The old Russian political parties of the True Russians (Anti-Semites, whose chief representative in Kishineff had been Krushevan, a clever journalist) and the Centre, being Czaristic, had disappeared. The Cadets, largely composed of land-holders, had lost their influence also. The Social Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats had comparatively few adherents, and the Jewish Bund and the Zionists drew largely from them. Five tickets were put up: the Constitutional Democrats, headed by Prince Urusoff, the former governor, with a list of land-owners, officials and professional men; the Social Democrats, largely Jewish; the Moldavian Cooperatives (as elsewhere in Russia, the cooperative societies had become very powerful; among their candidates were V. Chiorescu, T. Ioncu, I. Pelivan, G. Buruiana, P. Fala, I. Codreanu and M. Minciuna) ; and the Peasants' Party, whose list included Inculetz and Erhan, who had come down from St. Petersburg, P. Halippa, S. Arman, Gh. Pantea and I. Berlinsky. The elections were to be held on Nov. 12-14; but they had to be postponed a fortnight; and in the chaos which then prevailed, with thousands of disbanded Russian soldiers voting like the natives, they were held only in part, and the results were never fully tabulated.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, there was held in Kishineff a Congress of Moldavian Soldiers from all Russia, representing some 250,000 soldiers. Their deliberations resulted in the passage of a series of resolutions, as follows: Russia is to be a federative democratic republic; Bessarabia to have territorial and political autonomy, and her own army, with an immediate temporary organization of 100 mobile cohorts to combat the prevailing anarchy; a Provincial Diet (Sfat Tzarii) to be organized; all the land, whether belonging to the Church, the monasteries, the state, the Crown or private individuals, to be taken over without compensation and divided among the peasantry; no further colonization in Bessarabia; instruction in the local language to be free and obligatory; and contact to be maintained with the Moldavians east of the Dniester, who are to have ten seats in the Provincial Diet. This Diet is to have 120 deputies, apportioned as follows: 84 (70%) to the Moldavians, 36 to the minorities. 44 were to be elected by the Congress, 30 by the peasants, 10 by the Moldavian organizations, 36 by the minorities. This number was later increased to 135, and then 150. These figures were based on estimates of the population of Bessarabia as consisting 70% of Moldavians, 14% Ukrainians, 12% Jews, 6% Russians, 3% Bulgarians, 3% Germans, 2% Gagautzi (Turks of Christian religion), and 1% Greeks and Armenians. This appears to be a fairly accurate guess; the official Russian figures, which the Moldavians considered as inaccurate and padded, set the Moldavian proportion considerably lower, as about one-half. Such figures are misleading in all European countries of mixed nationalities, since the census enumerator generally has instructions to count everyone who understands the state language as being of that nationality, no matter what his everyday speech may be.
The Congress appointed also a Committee to organize the Diet, with V. Tzantzu, President, and some twenty members. The total membership of the Diet was now 150, 105 of whom were Moldavians. The original 135 were divided into 28 groups: representatives of the soldiers (38); of the Moldavian sailors at Odessa (3) ; Moldavian soldiers at Novo-Georgievsk (1) ; soldiers on the Roumanian front (3) ; the Peasants' Soviet (28) ; Central Committee of the National Party (6) ; Roumanian Cultural Society in Bessarabia (1) ; Moldavian Professional Association (2) ; Moldavian priests (2) ; Cooperative Union (3) ; Cultural League of Moldavian Women (1) ; Moldavian Students (3) ; Ukrainians (10) ; Germans (2) ; Poles (2) ; Bulgarians and Gagautzi (4) ; Greeks and Armenians (2) ; the Zemstvo of Kishineff (2) ; the Press (4) ; the Zemstvo of Soroca (1) ; the City Government of Kishineff (3) ; that of Orhei (1) ; the railroads (3) ; the Israelite Bund (6, one woman); the Popular Socialists (1) ; the Social Democrats (1) ; the Judiciary (1) ; and the Bar (1). In the change to 150 members, several were added from the zemstvos and the cities of the various districts, and the government service of posts, telegraphs and telephones. The various organizations elected their representatives, wherever possible; but the Diet was mainly appointive, and would not be considered a duly representative body in normal times in any western country. It must however be remembered that Bessarabia was in a state of anarchy already, shortly to be complicated by the fall of Kerensky, which left Russia with no responsible government whatever for the moment. He was succeeded by the Bolshevists-numerically at that time an infinitesimal minority of the Russian people, and not recognized as legitimate rulers by the Bessarabians. The Diet at any rate provided a welcome substitute for constitutional government, and indeed considered itself at the start a transitional body, preliminary to the establishment of a definite regime. The rapid march of events, combined with the ability and determination of several of its members, made of it a genuine governing organ.
On Nov. 21, 1917, the Bessarabian Diet formally opened its sessions, with 95 members present. At the service in the Cathedral, the Russian Bishop Gabriel surprised and pleased the gathering by holding the service in Roumanian; and he delivered a brief allocution in Roumanian when the session opened in one of the high school buildings. The Diet elected John C. Inculetz president. Inculetz, who was one of the Roumanian Commission visiting the United States in 1926, came of a peasant family in the village of Rezeni, near Kishineff. He was a privat-dozent in Physics at the University of St. Petersburg when Kerensky selected him as his emissary to Bessarabia, to intensify the work of the Revolution in that backward and reactionary province, as the Provisional Government considered it. He had hitherto not collaborated with the National Moldavian Party, in view of the pro-Roumanian tendencies of several of its leaders; but news of Kerensky's fall had just arrived, so that he now felt free to work with them, but for an independent Bessarabian republic. In his opening speech, he reminded the delegates that Russia was now a prey to anarchy, the only escape from which lay in the immediate organization of each Russian province. Anarchy was under way in Bessarabia; the Diet must guard the province against it, and provide also for the meeting of a Constitutional Convention for Bessarabia. It must distribute the land to the peasants; it must take steps to secure provisions, for there was no bread in sight after January, and the constantly increasing hordes of demobilized soldiers would plunder the country. Politically, the Diet must keep closely allied with the Russian Democratic Republic. "It is absolutely evident," he said, "that rumors of a so-called 'Roumanian orientation' are misleading and without any foundation in fact . . . . Separatism in Bessarabia is nonexistent, particularly separatism toward Roumania. Here there is only a handful of men who turn their looks across the Pruth. The paths of Bessarabia merge into the paths of Russia, for Russia is a country much freer than Roumania." It is worth noticing that the Diet, in spite of the irregular manner of its assembling, received notable marks of public recognition-the blessing by the Bishop; salutations from the President of the Bench and of the Bar; the presence of four subcommissioners of the province; of Erhan and Inculetz, official representatives of the Soviet of St. Petersburg and of the Provisional Russian Government, not yet formally replaced; of Mayor A. C. Schmidt of Kishineff, and of P. Sinadino, former Deputy in the Duma.
It is evident, in spite of Inculetz' statements, that various of the Moldavians expressed from the start a hope of national union with the mother country, Roumania. On the other hand, the presence of militant members of the Russian revolutionary parties, the burden of whose speeches was Bessarabian cooperation in the salvation of Russia, ensured a thorough discussion of every possible manner in which Bessarabia might continue as a member of the Russian body politic. Those who impugn this Diet as unconstitutional must face the unconstitutionality of every other organ of legislation in Russia at that time. No Constitutional Convention had yet replaced the will of the Czar, hitherto the legal source of all power; and if we except Finland, all the other border provinces were governed by similar informal bodies-in Esthonia, the Provincial Council of April 1917, which declared itself the National Council, sole sovereign authority in Esthonia, on Nov. 28; the Lithuanian "Tariba," which proclaimed the independence of Lithuania; the Ukrainian Rada of April 1917, which declared the independence of Ukrainia, and made its separate peace with the Central Powers; the similar Rada of White Russia, at Minsk; and the National Councils in Armenia, Caucasia and Georgia, which announced their independence of Russia.
For completeness' sake I add a list of the members of the Diet, at the time of the final vote on union with Roumania, arranged roughly in Russian alphabetical order, and classed according to their vote; it is based on the lists of Pelivan (Chronology, etc., Appendix B) and Cazacu (Moldova, etc., pp. 240-245). I have marked with an asterisk the names of those who were in the Diet from the beginning, and have given such data about them (age, profession and county) as I could glean, so that one can judge of the character of the assembly; n. d. indicates that I have no information. Cf. also the list of signers of the protest of Nov. 20, 1918.
Voted for Union on March 27 (0. S.), 1918.
Voted against Union
Refrained from Voting
Absent from this Session
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