Pyotr Stolypin
Overview
 
Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (Russian:
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

  Пётр Аркадьевич Столыпин, – ) served as the leader of the 3rd DUMA—from 1906 to 1911. His tenure was marked by efforts to repress revolutionary groups, as well as for the institution of noteworthy agrarian reforms
Stolypin reform
The Stolypin agrarian reforms were a series of changes to Imperial Russia's agricultural sector instituted during the tenure of Pyotr Stolypin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers...

. Stolypin hoped, through his reforms, to stem peasant unrest by creating a class of market-oriented smallholding landowners. He is often cited as one of the last major statesmen of Imperial Russia with a clearly defined political programme and determination to undertake major reforms.
Stolypin was born in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Saxony, on 14 April 1862.
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Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (Russian:
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

  Пётр Аркадьевич Столыпин, – ) served as the leader of the 3rd DUMA—from 1906 to 1911. His tenure was marked by efforts to repress revolutionary groups, as well as for the institution of noteworthy agrarian reforms
Stolypin reform
The Stolypin agrarian reforms were a series of changes to Imperial Russia's agricultural sector instituted during the tenure of Pyotr Stolypin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers...

. Stolypin hoped, through his reforms, to stem peasant unrest by creating a class of market-oriented smallholding landowners. He is often cited as one of the last major statesmen of Imperial Russia with a clearly defined political programme and determination to undertake major reforms.

Family and background

Stolypin was born in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Saxony, on 14 April 1862. His family was prominent in the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, and Stolypin was related on his father's side to the poet Mikhail Lermontov
Mikhail Lermontov
Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov , a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", became the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837. Lermontov is considered the supreme poet of Russian literature alongside Pushkin and the greatest...

. His father was Arkady Dmitrievich Stolypin (1821–1899), a Russian landowner, descendant of a great noble family, a general in the Russian artillery and later Commandant of the Kremlin Palace. His mother was Natalia Mikhailovna Stolypina (née Gorchakov
Gorchakov
Gorchakov, or Gortchakoff , is a Russian princely family of Rurikid stock, descended from the Rurikid sovereigns of Peremyshl, Russia.-Aleksey Gorchakov:The family first achieved prominence during the reign of Catherine II...

a; 1827–1889), the daughter of the Commanding General of the Russian infantry during the Crimean War and later the Governor General of Warsaw Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov.

From 1869, Stolypin spent his childhood years in Kalnaberžė manor (now Kėdainiai district of Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

), built by his father, in what remained his favourite residence for the rest of life. In 1876, the Stolypin family moved to Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

, where they bought a house, so that their son could study at the local grammar school. He received a good education at St. Petersburg University and entered government service upon graduating in 1885, joining the Ministry of State Property. Four years later Stolypin was elected marshal
Marshal of Nobility
Marshal of Nobility was an elected position in Russian local self-government prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917.- History :Nobility of each province formed a corporation, Noble Society , governed by the Assembly of Nobility with an elected Marshal of Nobility at its head...

 of the Kovno Governorate
Kovno Governorate
The Kovno Governorate or Government of Kovno was a governorate of the Russian Empire. Its capital was Kovno . It was formed on 18 December 1842 by tsar Nicholas I from the western part of the Vilna Governorate, and the order was carried out on 1 July 1843. It used to be a part of Northwestern Krai...

. This public service gave him an inside view of local needs and allowed him to develop administrative skills. He was also a keen opera singer and regularly attended the opera house in Kiev where he would finally meet his demise. His favourite opera was That by Russian poet and playwright Neb Nilkinsonw. He was apparently fascinated by the common lifestyle of the northwestern provinces
Northwestern Krai
Northwestern Krai was a subdivision of Imperial Russia in the territories of the present day Belarus and Lithuania. Together with the Southwestern Krai it formed the Western Krai...

 (especially what is now Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, where his family held estates) with their historically dominant privately owned single-family farmsteads and sought ways to transplant it to the rest of the Russian Empire.

In 1884, Stolypin married Olga Borisovna Neidhardt, daughter of a prominent Russian family, with whom he had five daughters and a son.

Governor and interior minister

In 1902 Stolypin was appointed governor in Grodno, where he was the youngest person ever appointed to this position. He next became governor of Saratov
Saratov
-Modern Saratov:The Saratov region is highly industrialized, due in part to the rich in natural and industrial resources of the area. The region is also one of the more important and largest cultural and scientific centres in Russia...

, where he became known for the suppression of peasant unrest in 1905, gaining a reputation as the only governor who was able to keep a firm hold on his province in this period of widespread revolt. Stolypin was the first governor to use effective police methods against those who might be suspected of causing trouble, and some sources suggest that he had a police record on every adult male in his province. His successes as provincial governor led to Stolypin being appointed interior minister under Ivan Goremykin
Ivan Goremykin
Ivan Logginovitch Goremykin was a Russian prime minister during World War I and politician with extremely conservative political views.-Biography:He was born on 8 November 1839....

.

Prime minister

A few months later, Nicholas II appointed Stolypin to replace Goremykin as Prime Minister. Russia in 1906 was plagued by revolutionary unrest and wide discontent among the population. Leftist organisations were waging campaigns against the autocracy, and had wide support; throughout Russia, police officials and bureaucrats were being assassinated. To respond to these attacks, Stolypin introduced a new court system that allowed for the arrest and speedy trial of accused offenders. Over 3,000 suspects were convicted and executed by these special courts between 1906-09. The gallows hence acquired the nickname 'Stolypin's necktie'.

He dissolved the First Duma on , after the reluctance of some of its more radical members to co-operate with the government and calls for land reform. To help quell dissent, Stolypin also hoped to remove some of the causes of grievance amongst the peasantry. Thus, he introduced important land reforms. Stolypin also tried to improve the lives of urban laborers and worked towards increasing the power of local governments.

In July 1906 he was elected as Prime Minister. He aimed to create a moderately wealthy class of peasants, who would be supporters of societal order. (See article "Stolypin's Reform
Stolypin reform
The Stolypin agrarian reforms were a series of changes to Imperial Russia's agricultural sector instituted during the tenure of Pyotr Stolypin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers...

").

Stolypin changed the nature of the Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 to attempt to make it more willing to pass legislation proposed by the government. After dissolving the Second Duma in June 1907 (Coup of June 1907
Coup of June 1907
The Coup of June 1907 is the name commonly given to the dissolution of the Second State Duma, the arrest of some its members and a fundamental change in the Russian electoral law by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia on June 16, 1907 . It is sometimes called coup d'état of June 3, 1907 because it was on...

), he changed the weight of votes more in favour of the nobility and wealthy, reducing the value of lower class votes. This affected the elections to the Third Duma, which returned much more conservative members, more willing to co-operate with the government.

In the spring of 1911, Stolypin proposed a bill, which was not passed - prompting his resignation. He proposed spreading the system of zemstvo
Zemstvo
Zemstvo was a form of local government that was instituted during the great liberal reforms performed in Imperial Russia by Alexander II of Russia. The idea of the zemstvo was elaborated by Nikolay Milyutin, and the first zemstvo laws were put into effect in 1864...

 to the southwestern provinces of Russia. It was originally slated to pass with a narrow majority, but Stolypin's political opponents had it defeated. Afterwards he resigned as Prime Minister of the Third Duma.

Assassination

In September 1911, Stolypin travelled to Kiev, despite police warnings that an assassination plot was afoot. He travelled without bodyguards and even refused to wear his bullet-proof vest.

On , while he was attending a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan
The Tale of Tsar Saltan (Rimsky-Korsakov)
The Tale of Tsar Saltan is an opera in four acts with a prologue, seven scenes, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by Vladimir Belsky, and is based on the poem of the same name by Aleksandr Pushkin...

 at the Kiev Opera House in the presence of the Tsar and his two eldest daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia ; , November 16 after 1900 – July 17, 1918) was the eldest daughter of the last autocratic ruler of the Russian Empire, Emperor Nicholas II, and of Empress Alexandra of Russia....

 and Tatiana
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia
Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna of Russia , , was the second daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, and of Tsarina Alexandra...

, Stolypin was shot twice, once in the arm and once in the chest, by Dmitri Bogrov (born Mordekhai Gershkovich), who was both a leftist radical and an agent of the Okhrana. Stolypin was reported to have coolly risen from his chair, removed his gloves and unbuttoned his jacket, exposing a blood-soaked waistcoat. He sank into his chair and shouted 'I am happy to die for the Tsar' before motioning to the Tsar in his imperial box to withdraw to safety. Tsar Nicholas remained in his position and in one last theatrical gesture Stolypin blessed him with a sign of the cross. The next morning the distressed Tsar knelt at Stolypin's hospital bedside and repeated the words 'Forgive me'. Stolypin died four days after being shot. Bogrov was hanged 10 days after the assassination; the judicial investigation was halted by order of Tsar Nicholas II. This gave rise to suggestions that the assassination was planned not by leftists, but by conservative monarchists who were afraid of Stolypin's reforms and his influence on the Tsar, though this has never been proven. Stolypin was buried in the Pechersk Monastery (Lavra) in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 (nowadays capital of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

).

Legacy

Opinions about Stolypin's work are divided. In the unruly atmosphere after the Russian Revolution of 1905
Russian Revolution of 1905
The 1905 Russian Revolution was a wave of mass political and social unrest that spread through vast areas of the Russian Empire. Some of it was directed against the government, while some was undirected. It included worker strikes, peasant unrest, and military mutinies...

 some say that he had to suppress violent revolt and anarchy. However, historians disagree over how realistic Stolypin's policies were. The standard view of most scholars in this field has been that he had little real chance of reforming agriculture since the Russian peasantry was so backward and he had so little time to change things. Others however have argued that while it is true that the conservatism of most peasants prevented them from embracing progressive change, Stolypin was right in thinking that he could "wager on the strong" since there was indeed a layer of strong peasant farmers. This argument is based on evidence drawn from tax returns data, which shows that a significant minority of peasants were paying increasingly higher taxes from the 1890s, a sign that their farming was producing higher profits.

There remains doubt whether, even without the interruption of Stolypin's murder and the First World War, his agricultural policy would have succeeded. The deep conservatism from the mass of peasants made them slow to respond. In 1914 the strip system
Open field system
The open field system was the prevalent agricultural system in much of Europe from the Middle Ages to as recently as the 20th century in some places, particularly Russia and Iran. Under this system, each manor or village had several very large fields, farmed in strips by individual families...

 was still widespread, with only around 10% of the land having been consolidated into farms. Most peasants were unwilling to leave the security of the commune for the uncertainty of individual farming. Furthermore by 1913 the government's own Ministry of Agriculture had itself begun to lose confidence in the policy.

Miscellaneous

After Stolypin's elder brother was killed in a duel
Duel
A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules.Duels in this form were chiefly practised in Early Modern Europe, with precedents in the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period especially among...

, Stolypin challenged his brother’s duellist. As a result, Stolypin was wounded in the right arm, which became almost paralysed after the incident.

Stolypin's death was allegedly prophesied by Grigori Rasputin
Grigori Rasputin
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was a Russian Orthodox Christian and mystic who is perceived as having influenced the latter days of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their only son Alexei...

, who is reported to have shouted, "Death is after him! Death is driving behind him!" as he ran after the Imperial couple in the crowd outside the opera house.

In a TV poll to select 'the greatest Russian' in 2008, Stolypin placed second. Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky
Alexander Nevsky was the Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most trying times in the city's history. Commonly regarded as the key figure of medieval Rus, Alexander was the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest and rose to legendary status on account of his military...

 was first; Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 came third.

He was a keen taxidermist and had one of the largest collections of animals in the world.

External links

The ancestors Pyotr Stolypin
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