Some Useful 19th Century Russian Legal Terms

Note: The Cyrillic here is in the Windows-1251 character set.

Here are definitions of some legal terms that frequently turn up in the Minsk Vedomosti notices. The definitions appear in a Russian historical dictionary, "Rossijskij istoriko-bytovoj slovar." (Российский историко- бутожой словарь.)

The dictionary was written by L.V. Belovinskij (Л.В. Беловинский) and published by the TRITE Nikita Mikhlkova Rossijskij Archive, Moscow 1999. It was purchased for $17.25 at Victor Kamkin, Manhattan, New York.

Translated (or mistranslated) by A.L. Bell, Kansas City, Missouri, 17 April 2000.

Gerbovaya bumaga (Гербовая бумага) (stamped paper) - A kind of duty on the fulfillment of deeds of purchase [bills of sale?] and other transactions, such as submitting petitions and getting official documents. There was also a type of state-manufactured, branded paper that was sold for considerably more than its cost. The cost of of the gebovaja bumaga depended on the type of business recorded and the size of the transaction. A double-headed eagle appeared on each sheet of paper, pointing to the cost. Gerbovaya bumaga was introduced in Russia in 1699.

Kazennaya Palata (Казенная Палата) (Kazennaya Palace) - From 1775, the institution that supervised gubernya finances. It was directed at first by a vice-governor, and afterwards directed by a committee formed according to rules set forth in the official five-year or four-year "Table of Ranks." The Kazennaya Palata consisted of an economic director; a counselor; two assessors; and the gubernya "kaznacheya" (казначея). It managed tax programs, implemented financial controls, took charge of the sources of revenue, such as "otkupa" (откупа) or tax farming system ( investment banking system), and contracting. The Kazennaya complex also compiled the national tax rolls. The "uezda" (уезда) or district, kaznachejstvo (казначейство) was under the command of the Kazennaya Palata.

Kaznachejstvo (казначейство) - … The Kaznachejstvos collected state revenue, took custody of the producer payments, made sure taxpayers paid their taxes on time, and kept track of the payment of tax revenues, duties and other sources of revenue. They also took custody of the community and estate taxes, and the sale of "gerbov bumaga" (гербовая бумага), or stamped paper; marked paper; blank paper; etc. They issued the certificates allowing users to trade and hunt, and also issued passports to merchants. The Kazachejstvos carried out both periodic, sudden audits and censuses for the Kazennaya Palata and the official decresses of the governor.

Pitejnyj Sbor (Питейный Сбор) (Pub tax) - Indirect tax on consumption of wine, introduced in Russia in 1863, after the abolition of the wine tax-farming system. [Translator's note: "tax farmers" were investment bankers who paid cash up front for the right to collect various types of taxes. If they guessed right about the amount of revenue, they could make a lot of money. If they guessed wrong about the economy and the amount of tax revenue, they could lose a lot of money.]