The State Duma of the Russian Empire
was a legislative assembly
in the late Russian Empire
, which met in the Taurida Palace
in St. Petersburg
. It was convened four times between 1906 and the collapse of the Empire in 1917.
Coming under pressure from the Russian Revolution of 1905
, on August 6, 1905, Sergei Witte
(appointed by Nicholas II
to manage peace negotiations with Japan) issued a manifesto about the convocation of the Duma, initially thought to be a purely advisory body. In the subsequent October Manifesto
, the Tsar pledged to introduce further civil liberties
, provide for broad participation in a new "State Duma", and endow the Duma with legislative and oversight powers. The State Duma was to be the lower house of a parliament, and the State Council of Imperial Russia
the upper house.
However, Nicholas II was determined to retain his autocratic power. On April 23, 1906 (O.S.
), the Tsar issued the Fundamental Laws
, which gave him the title of "supreme autocrat". Although no law could be made without the Duma's assent, neither could the Duma pass laws without the approval of the noble-dominated State Council (half of which was to be appointed directly by the Tsar), and the Tsar himself retained a veto. The laws stipulated that minister
could not be appointed by, and were not responsible to, the Duma, thus denying responsible government
at the executive level. Furthermore, the Tsar had the power to dismiss the Duma and announce new... Read More