V. I. Lenin

Concerning the Decree on Revolutionary Tribunals[1]

First Published: 1933 in Lenin Miscellany XXI Published according to the manuscript From V. I. Lenin
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pages 219 through 220
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription\HTML Markup: Robert Cymbala and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive March, 2001

To Members Of The Collegium Of The Commissariat For Justice, And A Copy To The Chairman Of The C.E.C.

March 30, 1918

The decree on Soviet tribunals is in my opinion quite wrong and requires radical revision.

It is incorrect to annul the decree on press tribunals without a preliminary summary (and discussion) of the results of their work.

It is incorrect to establish the post of a one-man “tribune” outside the Collegium of the Commissariat for Justice. The result is something like the worst precedents of a “Prosecutor-General”.

Instead of devoting attention to reforms of institutions, to petty or almost verbal reforms ("tribune"), attention should be directed to the practical results of the work of the Collegium for Justice in setting up a really revolutionary court that is rapid and mercilessly severe in dealing with counter-revolutionaries, hooligans, idlers and disorganisers.



Draft Decision Of The Council Of People’s Commissars

The Council of People’s Commissars instructs the Commissariat for Justice to revise the draft decree on tribunals in the direction of abolishing the one-man power of the “tribune” and laying chief stress not on petty alterations of the institutions set up since October 1917, but on the practical results to be achieved by setting up courts that will act really swiftly and with revolutionary ruthlessness against counter-revolutionaries, bribe-takers, disorganisers and violators of discipline.

The final draft is to be published and submitted to the C.E.C.


[1] The first draft of the Decree on Revolutionary Tribunals was submitted by the People’s Commissariat for Justice on March 30, 1918 for approval by the Council of People’s Commissars. When it was discussed by the Council a decision (document “B") proposed by Lenin, stating that it should be radically revised, was accepted. The draft was revised on the basis of Lenin’s instructions, approved at a meeting of the Council of People’s Commissars on May 4, 1918 and published on May 17, 1918.