The Russian Review/Volume 1/May 1916/News from Russia

News from Russia  (1916) 

News From Russia.

The Zemstvo of the government of Perm has appropriated one million two hundred thousand roubles for the purpose of providing educational facilities within the government. Of this money, two hundred thousand roubles is to be spent for the construction of new primary schools, two hundred thousand for providing educational facilities outside of schools, and eight hundred thousand for secondary schools.

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The Russian Woman Suffrage League has organized a co-operative school of general studies. The school is conducted in the evenings, and the course lasts for four months. The entrance requirements are that the applicant should be no younger than sixteen, and should have covered the course of the higher primary school. The fee for the course is thirty roubles.

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It is noticeable that, as a result of the War, the amount of crime has generally decreased very considerably, except among the children. There the amount of crime has increased greatly. Yet it is curious that this increase occurs only in the cities. The country districts, on the contrary, do not show any increase in juvenile delinquency.

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The Ministry of Finance is working on a plan of establishing cooperative banks in Russia. The need of such banks is recognized as imperative by the Ministry of the Interior, as well as that of Finance, in view of the rapid and extensive development of the cooperative movement in the country.

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The annual fair, which was recently held at Verkhneudinsk, in Siberia, was very successful. Despite the fact that prices in general have risen from one to two hundred per cent, all the goods that were brought to the fair were easily disposed of.

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The Central Statistical Committee has issued a statement concerning the Russian crops in 1915. The data cover fifty-six governments and territories of Russia, i. e., practically the whole country, with the exception of the territory occupied by the Germans. The total amount of grains gathered during the year was 3,509,000,000 pouds (one poud equals thirty-six pounds), the increase over the average for the preceding five years being 406,000,000 pouds. The crops of the principal grains are given as follows, in million of pouds:

1914 1915
Wheat 867.9 870.3
Rye 23.6 17.5
Barley 472.8 524.3
Millet 107.9 148.9
Corn 112.8 98.3
Oats 682.6 766.8
Potatoes 1228.5 1268.0

The surplus of grain, after deducting the amount needed for seed, is 27.13 pouds per capita of the population.

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The Russian newspapers very frequently bring reports concerning the establishment of new industrial enterprises all over the country. Industrial activity is noticeable everywhere, and even Siberia, which is located quite unfavorably in this respect, is beginning to show signs of increasing industrial life. This is especially true of the governments of Tomsk and Eniseisk. A large factory is now being constructed near Tomsk by the firm of Lubinsky and Wecker, and the works are expected to be completed by October 1, 1916.

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The circulation of the daily newspapers published in Petrograd, is as follows: Kopeika (Copeck) 170,000; Birzheviya Viedomosti (Bourse Bulletin), morning edition 52,000, afternoon edition 119,000, evening edition, 109,000; Viecherneye Vremia (Evening Times) 135,000; Selsky Viestnik (Rural Bulletin); 102,000; Petrogradsky Listok (Petrograd Sheet) 80,000; Sovremennoye Slovo (Contemporary Word) 76,000; Rech (Speech) 45,000; Den (Day) 40,000; Zemshchina, 7,000; Russkoye Znamia (Russian Banner) 3,000; Petrogradskiya Viedomosti (Petrograd Bulletin) 1,900.

It is interesting to note in this connection that there is a weekly magazine published in Petrograd, Ogonek, which has a circulation of over half a million copies. The largest Russian daily newspaper is published in Moscow. It is the Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word), with a circulation of over eight hundred thousand copies.

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The Zemstvo of the government of Moscow is working out a plan of constructing or purchasing a factory for the production of concrete. At the present time the price for concrete is very high, and the Zemstvo fears that its work of introducing fire-proof buildings will be greatly hampered, unless it takes the situation in hand by owning and operating its own factory.

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The Ministry of Commerce proposes the establishment of a special commission to find means of facilitating the utilization of electrical energy. A practicable plan in this matter is considered very important, since it would simplify greatly the problem of the shortage of fuel, which has become so acute recently. The commission will include among its members specialists in electrochemistry and electrical engineering.

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Many village communities in the government of Odessa have decided to conduct a vigorous campaign against gambling. It is proposed to punish offenders by a fine of one rouble or imprisonment of two days.

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One of the consequences of the increase in the cost of living in Russia has been a rapid growth of consumers' leagues all over the country. At present the number of such leagues has reached eleven thousand.

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The last annual report of Moscow University shows an enrollment on January 1, 1916, of 11,184 students, which means an increase of 2,055 over the figure for the preceding year. The Department of History and Philology has 1,066 students; that of Physics and Mathematics has 1,594; that of Natural Sciences has 1,829; that of Law has 4,111; that of Medicine has 2,524. The faculty of the University consists of 114 professors and 228 privat-docents.

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The Department of Customs Duties has published the preliminary data concerning the foreign trade of Russia during the first half of January, 1916. The figures show a great diminution of the amount of exports, due to the War, and a very large increase in the amount of imports. During the fifteen days, the exports along the European frontier amounted to 8,400,000 roubles, as compared with 4,800,000 roubles during the corresponding period of 1915. On the other hand, the amount of imports increased from 10,300,000 roubles in 1915 to over 31,000,000 in 1916. Thus, during the two weeks in question, the excess of imports over exports amounted to 27,600,000 roubles, as compared with 5,500,000 roubles in 1915. The excess of imports over exports along the Siberian seaboard was 5,400,000 roubles as against ,100,000 roubles in 1915.

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The Russian peasants prove to be quite enterprising in the present crisis which makes means of transportation very difficult. The railroads are insufficient even for the transportation of military supplies and the prime necessities of life; when it comes to transportation of freight, the conditions are still less favorable. In some localities, the peasants decided to return to the old system of cart transportation, and their efforts in this direction have been quite successful. In the government of Penza, for example, a "caravan" of wagons, loaded with fish, traversed the way from Uralsk to Novo-Troitsk, a distance of seven hundred miles, in sixteen days. Upon arriving at their destination, the peasants sold their load together with the wagons and horses, and made a considerable profit on the whole transaction.

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The lack of organization on the Russian railroads is well illustrated by the following incident. The Minister of Railroads had occasion to travel last February from Petrograd to Cherkassy. At night, the Minister's private car had to be attached to a new train, at the junction of Bachmach. Here, through a peculiar mistake, the car was attached to a wrong train, and the Minister found himself in the morning in Kiev, instead of Cherkassy. When he was informed of the mistake, the Minister took the matter good-naturedly, and remarked that he no longer wondered why it often happens that goods consigned to Moscow are delivered to Kharkov or Kursk.

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A company has recently been organized in Russia for the purpose of utilizing the invention of S. L. Franfort, an industrial chemist, who has found a way of producing artificial saltpeter. It is expected that the invention will be found extremely useful in the production of fertilizers, which are used in tremendous quantities, especially on the sugar-beet plantations of south-western Russia. Lately, owing to the War, the importation of saltpeter has been reduced greatly, especially from Chile. It is hoped that Franfort's invention will make the fertilizer industry in Russia independent of the importation of the basic material.

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The Bourse Committee of the city of Chita, Siberia, is investigating the reports concerning deposits of gold, silver, diamonds, iron, copper, rock crystal, etc. The investigation will begin with the gold beds in the taigas of Mariinsk, in the region of Eastern Zabaykalye.

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The investigation conducted by the Ministry of the Interior concerning the extent of German land ownership in Russia, has so far given the following results: In the Transcaspian territory, the Germans own 22,500 acres; in the Semipalatinsk territory, 181,000 acres; in the government of Stavropol, 172,000 acres; in Turgaisk, 201,000 acres; in Tombolsk, 17,760 acres; in Orenburg, over 288,000 acres; in Tomsk, 668,000 acres; in the government of Irkutsk, 12,300 acres. The investigation has not, as yet, covered southern Russia, where most of the German-owned lands are located.