of July 18/31, 1917, on the Dissolution of the Sejm
and on the Holding of New Elections
The Provisional Government received the Address of the Sejm, dated July 12 (25) of this year, together with the text of its independently adopted decisions on the achievement of Finnish sovereignty.
On the basis of the constitution, Finland enjoys independence in internal affairs only within the established framework of the legal relationship between Finland and Russia; it has always been considered that the basic underlying principle of these relations was their common bearer of the supreme power of the state. With the abdication of the last emperor, the full powers which inhered in him, as well as the rights of the Grand Duke of Finland, could pass only to the Provisional Government, which was vested with supreme power by the people of Russia. Otherwise the rights of the Grand Duke would have to have been considered as belonging to him even to this very day.
The Provisional Government, having publicly sworn to preserve the rights of the people of the Russian State, cannot surrender these rights prior to the decision of the Constituent Assembly.
Continuing to consider it its duty and its concern to defend and expand the rights of Finnish independence in internal affairs in accordance with a Manifesto issued on March 7 (20) of this year, the Provisional Government cannot at the same time recognize the right of the Finnish Sejm to predetermine of its own accord the will of the forthcoming Russian Constituent Assembly and abolish the authority of the Russian Government in matters of Finnish legislation and government.
In the meantime, the decisions adopted by the Sejm alter the very essence of the mutual legal relationship between Russia and Finland and constitute a fundamental violation of the present constitution of Finland.
Let the people of Finland weigh their fate. It must be decided only in agreement with the people of Russia.
Having ordered, accordingly, that new elections be held at the earliest date, on October 1 and 2 (new style) of this year, the Provisional Government considered it to be in the best general interest to dissolve the regular Sejm, which it convoked on March 22 (April 4) of this year, and to set [a date], no later than November 1 of this year, for the convocation of the new Sejm. Therefore, all persons who will be elected as deputies to the Sejm are to arrive in the town of Helsingfors by a date that will be specially set for the discharge of their duties in accordance with the Statute of the Sejm.
In accordance with existing laws, at the opening of the Sejm the Government will submit a bill for consideration by the Sejm on the procedure for settling the internal affairs of Finland.
Issued on July 18 (31), 1917, in Petrograd.
The Prime Minister A.Kerensky
Deputy Prime Minister N.Nekrasov
Minister for Foreign Affairs M.Tereshchenko
Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod K.Lvov
Minister of Supply A.Peshekhonov
Minister of Agriculture Victor Chernov
Minister of Labour M.Skobelev
Minister of Justice Iv. Efremov
Minister for Postal and Telegraphic Institutions and the Director of the Ministry of the Interior Ir. Tseretelli
State Controller Iv. Godnev
Minister State Secretary for Finland K.Enckell