P. A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia 9781503619012

This is the first comprehensive biography in any language of Russia’s leading statesman in the period following the Revo

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P. A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia

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P. A. Stolypin

P. A. Stolypin The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia

Abraham Ascher

Stanford University Press Stanford, California

Stanford University Press Stanford, California © 2001 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ascher, Abraham. P. A. Stolypin : the search for stability in late imperial Russia/ Abraham Ascher. p. em. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN o-8047-3977-3 (cl. : alk. paper) : ISBN o-8047-4547-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) r. Stolypin, Petr Arkadevich, r862-191I. 2. Statesmen-RussiaBiography. 3· Russia-Politics and government-1904-I9I4. I. Title. 2001 DK254.S595 A9 947 .o8'3'092-dc2I

[B] This book is printed on acid-free, archival-quality paper. Original printing 2001 Last figure below indicates year of this printing: IO 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 OI Typeset by John Feneron in 9-5/12.5 Trump Mediaeval


To my family


In writing this book I have received support and help from many institutions and individuals, and I should like to express my appreciation to them. Financial support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Earhart Foundation, and the Research Foundation of the City University of New Yark enabled me to take time off from teaching and made possible research trips to archives in Europe. I was cordially received in various archives, all of which made available documents relevant to my subject: the Bakhmetev Archive at Columbia University, the Russian State Archive in St. Petersburg, the State Archives in Helsinki, the Public Record Office in London, the Haus-Hof-und-Staatsarchiv in Vienna, and the Politisches Archiv des Auswiirtigen Amts in Bonn. The State Archive in the Russian Federation in Moscow graciously permitted the photocopying of numerous documents on my topic. Librarians at Columbia University, the Slavonic Library of Helsinki University, the library of the

Graduate School of the City University, and the New York Public Library responded graciously to all my requests for books, pamphlets, and newspapers. Mr. Edward Kasinec and his staff at the New York Public Library not only provided me with the material I asked for but also on occasion came up with additional sources. Sage Publications gave me permission to reprint large parts of my article, "Prime Minister P. A. Stolypin and his 'Jewish' Advisor," which appeared in the Journal of Contemporary History 30, no. 3 (July I 99 5 ), pp. 5 I 3-32. I should also point out that for my discussion of Stolypin's role in the turbulent events from I 90S to 1907 I have drawn heavily on my previous work on the Revolution of 1905 published by Stanford University Press, though I have added a fair amount of new material that I found in my necessarily more extensive research on Stolypin. I am grateful to friends who read the manuscript and gave me the benefit of their thoughtful criticisms: Paul Avrich, Julian Franklin, Guenter Lewy, Allen McConnell, Marc Raeff, and Daniel Orlovsky. As



in the past, Stanford University Press has encouraged me in this project, and their editors, John Feneron and Martin Hanft, were extremely helpful in improving the manuscript. I also want to thank my family, and especially my wife, Anna S. Ascher, for their encouragement and forbearance during the many years I devoted to the writing of the book. The shortcomings of the book are, of course, my responsibility. A.A.


A Note to the Reader Introduction

xi I


The Early Years



Governor of Saratov


Fighting the Revolution, April-August 1906


Fighting the Revolution, August 1906-June 1907


5· 6.

Fighting for Reform




Religion, Nationalism, Migration



The Last Defeat




Conclusion: Stolypin's Legacy


Notes Bibliography Index

403 437 458

(14 pages of photographs follow page 260)

A Note to the Reader

During Stolypin's lifetime, Russia was still using the Julian calendar, which was then thirteen days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West. I have given all dates in the text according to the Russian calendar; I have also used the Russian date alone in the notes for issues of newspapers and other periodicals, which were often dated in both forms on their covers. The transliteration of Russian names inevitably poses a problem, and I have opted to use the forms most commonly known for the handful of people the reader is likely to be familiar with already: Tsar Nicholas, Count Witte, Tolstoy. Otherwise I follow the Library of Congress transliteration system, modified to eliminate soft and hard signs. The list below is designed to define certain terms and offices mentioned in the text. Chief procurator of the Most Holy Synod: the chief administrator of the Russian Orthodox Church, with direct access to the tsar. City governor: the chief authority in larger cities such as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa, and Sevastopol; his powers were equivalent to those of a governor. Dvorianstvo: nobility. Gendarmes: members of a special police force under the direct authority of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Governor: the chief authority in the provinces; responsible to the minister of internal affairs. Governor-general: the chief authority in a few important provinces (notably St. Petersburg and Moscow) and in the borderlands; his rank was equivalent to that of a minister, and he had direct access to the tsar. Guberniia: a province. Kulak (a "fist"): a well-to-do peasant who owned a fairly large farm, who could afford to hire some laborers, and who often lent money to other peasants.


A Note to the Reader

Okhrana: security police. State Council: an appointed body of dignitaries, established in r8ro, that advised the tsar on legislation. Uezd: a county, including a city or town and several rural districts (volosti). Volost: a district in rural regions. Zemtsy (sing. zemets): individuals active in zemstvo affairs.


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