2015. Issue 1 (28)

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Kryuchkov N. N. Artemiy Volynsky's position in the debate on the anonymous project “About economic and industrial needs of Russia” in 1735 (.pdf)

 

In early 1735, Anna Ioannovna received an economic project of an unknown author and ordered to discuss it among Russian senior officials. The Cabinet ministers Osterman and Prince Cherkassky, the senators (Field Marshal Prince Trubetskoy, General Ushakov, Baron Shafirov, Prince Trubetskoy, Count Golovkin, Naryshkin and Maslov), as well as the President of the Admiralty Board Count Golovin, Major-General Volynsky and Prince Kurakin, had to submit their views on the project. The anonymous project consisted of five points, indicating the sources for the improvement of economic and industrial spheres of the Russian empire. Among them there were: 1) the increase of taxes from the so called “aliens”; 2) a special poll tax for those who sheltered fugitive peasants in grassroots cities (as punishment); 3) the moving of “old regiments” (the former streltsy) from Nizhny Novgorod and Novgorod provinces to the “Tsaritsyn defence line”; 4) the creation of spare bread stores and the reduction of distilleries; 5) the creation of a special office of the Governing Senate to control the distribution of harvests and taxes. The organization of cereal stores in starving regions was a result of the project’s discussion. The taxation of the “aliens” was not increased; the distilleries were not destroyed, but the Government bought bread to feed the starving people. The proposal of Volynsky to leave runaway serfs in their new places of residence was not accepted. The majority of persons who discussed the project supported the views of the anonymous author. The analysis of Volynsky’s proposals helps to mark multiple features of his views. He was undoubtedly committed to the common good: he proposed to create grain reserves in case of crop failure and to establish a special state body whose function was to create an optimal system of communication and purchase and delivery of bread from abundant areas into starving ones. He was ready to sacrifice profitable trade with wine for those purposes. He was also concerned of Russian peasants as the foundation of the State's well-being. In order to protect the main taxpayers from ruin he was ready to impose additional taxes on other social groups (such as “aliens” and “gentiles”), to find runaway ones and even to reduce budget expenditures. He still cannot be blamed of neglecting the “gentiles” and “aliens”: he recommended strengthening the tax burden on the example of other countries, but at the same time he proposed to fight with their disenfranchisement which allowed corrupt officials to find the ways for abuse. Volynsky wanted to learn from his colleagues: many of the Chief Prosecutor Maslov's proposals (such as streamlining the budget, bringing order to custom fees, increasing the number of factories and plants, etc.) were used in Volynsky's «General project» later. Apparently, Anna Ioannovna was impressed by Volynsky's competence, clear and thorough reasoning as well as she did like his flattery. However, the role of economic projects in his career should not be exaggerated. Before his appointment to the Cabinet, Artemiy Volynsky had an opportunity to distinguish himself in carrying out many important assignments.

 

Key words: economic project, discussion of the project, fugitive peasants, distillery, political career, senior officials, Artemiy Volynsky, Anisim Maslov, economic views.

 

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