October 25 in Russian history


Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich the Quietest adopts the Trade Statute (also known as the Customs Statute). This law brought order into the highly complicated customs system of Russia. The Russian History Encyclopedia at answers.com writes:

The Trade Statutes of 1653 and 1667 governed domestic and foreign trade in seventeenth-century Russia, and streamlined a highly complex and confusing system of some seventy different internal customs duties that added to transportation costs and created ample opportunity for corruption and cheating. Subjecting all goods and merchants to a uniform and consistent set of customs duties promoted efficiency by making long-distance trade more profitable and predictable. The statutes also became key elements in the implementation of a mercantilist agenda designed to promote the interests of domestic merchants. The commercial code (Torgovy ustav) of October 1653 was adopted in direct response to an August 1653 petition by leading Russian merchants against transit duties and for a unified rate of customs duty. The code combined a uniform internal rate with an overall increase in imposts. It further adopted uniform measures of weight and length throughout the country. A basic 5 percent impost was levied on sold goods, with the exception of salt (double the rate), furs, fish, and horses (old duties applied). No duties were levied on foreign currency sold to the government at a fixed rate. A special duty of 2.5 percent was applied to goods offered exclusively in border towns for export. Under the 1653 code, foreign merchants were required to pay a 6 percent duty in the Russian interior, in addition to a 2 percent transit duty. However, exports from Arkhangel'sk were taxed at only 2 percent. A related 1654 decree (Ustavnaya gramota) abolished transit duties on noble and church lands.

This day is now celebrated as the birthday of the Russian customs service.


21 year old Alexey Peshkov, who later became known as the proletarian writer Maxim Gorky, was arrested in Nizhny Novgorod. It was a strange story, to tell you the truth. Peshkov couldn't graduate from the school because of poverty, but in 1884 he met a group of socialists in Kazan who taught poor people writing and reading. In 1887 he attempted to commit suicide, being exhausted by hard work and one-sided love. In October 1889, a lawyer from Nizhny Novgorod, A. Lanin hired Peshkov as a scribe. Lanin allowed Alexey to use his home library. Gorky later recalled him with warmth and love. Gorky shared an apartment with someone Sergey Somov. Somov, it seems, was a student from Kazan, who was fired from the university after the assault on the students' movement in Kazan. He was sure he was a genius. One of his written, but not published works was title "The Electric Theory of Sociology". Peshkov was arrested exactly because of his good relations with Somov. Peshkov was interrogated by the chief of the city police, general I. Poznyansky. Poznyansky had his own sad story, which Peshkov knew, just like the whole city. 10 years earlier, his son was found dead, poisoned by a huge dose of morphium. He often spoke to Peshkov: "You write? So what? When I release you, show your stories to Korolenko, he's a good writer, like Turgenev." So he did. Peshkov went to Korolenko and asked him to read his stories. Soon he met other known writers of those years: Annensky, Batyushkov, Grigorovich and others. Three years later, in 1892, Gorky published his first short story, Makar Chudra. Yet six years later, in 1898, he published a book titled Essays and Stories, which became a huge success.

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