Decree on Suppression of Hostile Newspapers

First Published: October 27 [Nov. 9], 1917.
Source: A Documentary History of Communism, compiled by Robert V Daniels, ©1985; I.B.Tairis & Co Ltd, London.
Translated: U.S. Government: Bolshevik Propaganda: Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 65th Congress, 3rd Session. [Commas have been introduced.]
Transcription/Markup: Brian Baggins
Public Domain: Soviet History Archive 2006. This work is completely free.

In the serious decisive hour of the revolution, and the day immediately following it, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee was compelled to adopt a whole series of measures against the counter revolutionary press of all shades.

Immediately on all sides cries arose that the new socialist authority was violating, in this way, the essential principles of its program by an attempt against the freedom of the press.

The Workers' and Soldiers' Government draws the attention of the population to the fact that in our country, behind this liberal shield, there is practically hidden the liberty for the richer class to seize into their hand the lion's share of the whole press and by this means to poison the minds and bring confusion into the consciousness of the masses.

Everyone knows that the bourgeois press is one of the most powerful weapons of the bourgeoisie. Especially in this critical moment when the new authority, that of the workers and peasants, is in process of consolidation. It was impossible to leave this weapon in the hands of the enemy at a time when it is not less dangerous than bombs and machine guns. This is why temporary and extraordinary measures have been adopted for the purpose of cutting off the stream of mire and calumny in which the yellow and green press would be glad to drown the young victory of the people.

As soon as the new order will be consolidated, all administrative measures against the press will be suspended; full liberty will be given it within the limits of responsibility before the law, in accordance with the broadest and most progressive regulations in this respect.

Bearing in mind, however, the fact that any restrictions of the freedom of the press, even in critical moments, are admissible only within the bound of necessity, the Council of People's Commissaries decrees as follows:

General Rules on the Press.

1. The following organs of the press shall be subject to be closed: (a) those inciting to open resistance or disobedience towards the Workers' and Peasants' Government; (b) those sowing confusion by means of an obviously calumniatory perversion of facts; (c) those inciting to acts of a criminal character punishable by the penal laws.

2. The temporary or permanent closing of any organ of the press shall be carried out only by a resolution of the Council of People's Commissaries.

3. The present decree is of a temporary nature and will be revoked by special ukaz when the normal conditions of public life will be reestablished.

Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars,
Vladimir Ulianov (Lenin)