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Monday, 9 December 2013
Stolypin: Reformist Ahead of His Time
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr


The following article was originally published in the December 7th, 2013 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Yan Shenkman owns the copyright presented below. It is important to note that the opinions of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Royal Russia, nor do they reflect my own personal opinions. For instance, Shenkman notes that Stolypin could have turned Russia into a "European country," an idea of which I am completely opposed to -- Paul Gilbert 
 
The whole country reviled Pyotr Stolypin. But it was he who could have turned Russia into a European country and prevented many of the disasters of 20th century Russia.

Pyotr Stolypin (1862-1911), a reformist who served as prime minister in tsarist Russia, was a true European. He was born in Dresden, Germany, lived in Lithuania and holidayed in Switzerland.
 
He was a tall, handsome man, very hardworking; he slept just four hours a day. Stolypin was popular with women but was a faithful husband, and father to five daughters and a son.
 
At the time of the 1905 revolution, he was the governor of Saratov Region. Stolypin inspected rebellious areas unarmed and without bodyguards. During one of these trips, somebody dropped a bomb under his feet. There were casualties, but Stolypin survived.
 
Two photographs from that time remain: One shows mutinous peasants threatening the governor with fists and sticks; the other, the very same peasants, on their knees, asking his forgiveness.
 
The tsar appointed him first interior minister and then prime minister. He was the only man in the then government who could cope with running the country, and the tsar was a weak man.
 
Officials had only their own interests at heart, while politicians in the parliament spent their time in heated debates as to what needed to be done but were unable to actually do anything.
 
In the meantime, the situation in the country was extremely difficult. Russia had just suffered a humiliating defeat in the war with Japan. One political crisis came after another. There were arson attacks and rioting in the cities. Various terrorist groups were engaged in a so-called dynamite war, carrying out bomb attacks targeting senior officials.
 
Stolypin's country house was nearly destroyed in one such attack. His daughters were wounded, and some 30 people from among the guests and the servants were killed.
 
The explosion was so big that the windows in a house across the river from Stolypin's were smashed. When the tsar offered Stolypin money for his daughters' treatment, he replied, "Your majesty, my children's blood is not for sale."
 
Stolypin began his work as prime minister with introducing court-martials and announcing an agrarian reform. The latter meant that he gave land to the peasants.
 
That was the promise that Lenin gave to the people in 1917, except that Lenin never kept it, whereas Stolypin did. He realized that if peasants were turned into private owners, it would reduce the risk of a revolution.
 


Emperor Nicholas II and his family are greeted by Pyotr Stolypin at Kiev on 29 August, 1911
 
Stolypin relied on economic liberalism and a strong power. Many years later Pinochet did a similar thing in Chile. Having grasped the essence of Stolypin's reforms, German Kaiser Wilhelm II said that it was necessary to start a war with Russia as soon as possible; otherwise it would be impossible to defeat it.
 
Stolypin's reform was supposed to give peasants what the end of serfdom in 1861 had failed to give. Back then peasants were liberated from serfdom but were not given any land.
 
They became free but they did not become landowners. Stolypin wanted to turn Russia from a country of communes into a country of farmers.
 
Like the United States, the Baltic countries, and almost all Western countries, the farmer was the basis of the country's agriculture. One of Stolypin's assistants wrote at the time that "Russia's tragedy consists in that the issue of land-tenure regulations was not addressed right after the Liberation…
 
Western Europe has managed to (and will continue to) avoid bolshevism precisely because land relations and regulations for a French, German, English, or an Italian farmer have long been settled."
 
But the time was lost. The public was vehemently opposed to the reform. Leo Tolstoy was particularly indignant. He wrote to Stolypin directly and said, "Stop your horrible activity! Enough of looking up to Europe, it is high time Russia knew its own mind!"
 
That was the argument that Tolstoy often had with Dostoyevsky, who was in favor of private ownership of land. Dostoyevsky wrote: "If you want to transform humanity for the better, to turn almost beasts into humans, give them land and you will reach your goal."
 
Transformation for the better involved a lot of blood. More than 1,000 terrorists were executed by Stolypin's court-martials. In one of his interviews, Stolypin said: "I have grabbed the revolution by the neck and I will strangle it, if I myself remain alive."
 
The reform was stalling. The landed gentry were worried for their estates. Socialists realized that if the reform succeeded, they would lose the support of the people. And the people themselves were not particularly eager to become landowners.
 
New owners had to be transported to their land by force in what became known as Stolypin cars. Yet the reform did manage to produce some results. Before the First World War, Russia was a prosperous country, judging by all economic indicators.
 
However, Stolypin did not live to see it. Everybody knew that he would be assassinated, including he himself and the security services. The attack took place at the theatre in Kiev, at a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "The Tale of Tsar Saltan."
 
After the famous "Flight of the Bumblebee," a young man approached Stolypin and shot him twice. Stolypin unbuttoned his jacket soaked in blood, sank into his chair and said, "I am happy to die for the tsar!" Interestingly, the tsar was present at the opera, but the attacker targeted Stolypin rather than him, since Stolypin was more dangerous.
 
The assassin, whose name was Dmitry Bogrov, was a revolutionary and at the same time, an undercover agent for the security services. He was soon tried and hanged.
 
It is still not quite clear who was behind the assassination. But one thing is clear: Stolypin was hated by everybody — the authorities and the people alike, the whole of the country whom he desperately tried to drag into the 20th century. 
 
© Russia Beyond the Headlines. 09 December, 2013
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:09 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 9 December 2013 8:36 AM EST
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Friday, 28 December 2012
Stolypin Monument Unveiled in Moscow
Now Playing: Language: Russian. Duration: 2 minutes, 38 seconds
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

 

On December 27 a monument to Prime Minister of the Russian Empire Pyotr Stolypin was unveiled in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended, laying wreaths at the monument, which is situated near the Russian White House where the Russian Cabinet is situated.

The decision to install the monument was made in March 2011. Money to support the project was collected throughout the world. In July 2011 Vladimir Putin even suggested that members of the cabinet should consider donating a portion of their salaries to fund the monument.

Pavel Pozhigailo, President of the Foundation for Studying Pyotr Stolypin’s Heritage, noted that money was collected throughout Russia, even in the distant villages of the Altai Mountains, Chukotka and Magadan regions. “We even collected more than was needed and used the excess funds to thank those who helped. We sent them books about Stolypin and cards,” Pozhigailo explained.

The sculpture weighs more than three tons and is 4.5 meters tall. Including the pedestal, the monument rises approximately 9 meters from its base. Stolypin is credited for helping boost the Russian economy in a relative short period of time. The inspired reformer who once said “Give me 20 years of peace at home and abroad and you will not recognize Russia,” was fatally wounded by an assassin in Kiev in 1911 without completing the reforms some believe would have saved Russia from revolution. He was laid to rest in the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra. This year, 2012, marks the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Note: The video includes historic film footage of Stolypin's funeral in 1911.

© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 28 December, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:41 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2012 6:50 AM EST
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Saturday, 6 October 2012
Yelagin Palace Hosts Stolypin Exhibit
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

 

The exhibition Hope of the Tsar dedicated to the 150th anniversary since the birth of the outstanding politician Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (1862-1911)  has opened in the Konyushenny Building of the Yelagin Island Palace Museum.

Stolypin, a prominent statesman and great reformer of the Russian Empire, served as Prime Minister from 1906 to 1911.

 On September 14 [O.S. September 1] 1911, while he was attending a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Kiev Opera House in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II and his two eldest daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatian, Stolypin was shot twice, once in the arm and once in the chest, by Dmitri Bogrov (born Mordekhai Gershkovich), who was both a Jewish leftist radical.

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. The Tsar 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 later.

The exhibition is the final event in an extensive program of anniversary events and the largest project dedicated to this memorial date. The Yelagin Ostrov (Island) is one of the few memorial addresses of Pyotr Stolypin in St. Petersburg. In 1906 after an attempt on his life at Aptekarsky Island, that Stolypin and his family were transported here. 

The exhibit has been created on the basis of materials from over 15 to 20 archives and museums of the Russian Federation. Some documents and exhibits are displayed for the first time. 

State-of-the-art multimedia technologies, among them interactive ones, have been actively employed in the exhibition. One of the interactive exhibits is a model of Yelagin Island which helps allows visitors a better understanding of the history and its role during the period when Pyotr Stolypin and his family lived there. 

The exhibition runs till December 15.

© Iskusstvo TV and Paul Gilbert. 06 October, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 5:51 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 6 October 2012 6:08 PM EDT
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Saturday, 14 April 2012
Russia Marks 150th Anniversary of Birth of Pyotr Stolypin
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

 

Saturday marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of prominent Russian politician Pyotr Stolypin.

More than 20 conferences, exhibitions and seminars, dedicated to the event, will be held in Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine.

Stolypin served as Chairman of the Council of Ministers under Emperor Nicholas II in Russia between 1906 and 1911.

He is widely known for his agrarian reforms and his push for changing Russia’s electoral legislation.

Stolypin also dissolved the Second State Duma in 1907 in a move that put an end to the 1905 Russian Revolution.

© The Voice of Russia. 14 April, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:03 AM EDT
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Monday, 30 January 2012
Ukraine Refuses Monumental Russian Gift
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

 

Kiev's city government spoke against installing a Russian-made monument to a tsarist statesman in the Ukrainian capital.

The gift was proposed by Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev, who wanted to commemorate Pyotr Stolypin in connection with the anniversary of the statesman’s death. Stolypin was shot dead by an assassin in Kiev in 1911.

But the proposal is “either a provocation or an extremely thoughtless move,” Alexander Briginets, head of Kiev legislature’s culture and tourism commission, said on Monday.

“Stolypin’s reforms destroyed Ukrainian peasantry and Ukrainian traditions, forced a large part of the nation to move to Siberia and bled Ukraine dry,” Briginets said, the country’s news agency UNIAN reported.

Avdeyev did not comment on the rejection as of late Monday.

Stolypin was one of the most controversial figures in the history of late tsarist regime, earning a dual reputation for his attempts to modernize Russian agriculture and industrial sector before World War I, but also for his ruthless crackdown on political opposition. Part of his agrarian reform involved voluntary resettling of Russian and Ukrainian peasants to unused land in Siberia.

A memorial to Stolypin was erected in Kiev shortly after his assassination, but destroyed after the revolution of 1917.

The new monument was to be created by prolific Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, whose reputation is the real reason why Kiev City Hall is opposing the gift, Kievpress.net reported in December.

Many of Tsereteli’s oeuvres are tens of meters in size and have sparked allegations of tastelessness. A city official told Kievpress.net on condition of anonymity that the Kiev government intended to “fight [the gift] tooth and nail.”

© RIA Novosti. 30 January, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:35 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2012 7:38 AM EST
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Thursday, 9 June 2011
Monument to Pyotr Stolypin to be Erected in Omsk
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

A monument to Pyotr Stolypin is to be erected in the Siberian city of Omsk.

The monument is planned to be erected on the campus of the Omsk State Agrarian University. The creation and installment of the monument is to be financed by the Pyotr Stolypin Foundation for Development of Russian Culture.

Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin visited Omsk on 6-8 September, 1910, during a trip to the Volga region and Siberia. During his journey he visited the Nikolsky Army Cossack Church, as well as buildings of the Military Assembly and the Migration Department. The results of his journey were later published in the article Trip to Siberia and the Volga Region in 1911.

Stolypin served as Russia's prime minister from July 1906 to September 1911. He was assassinated at the Kiev Opera House on 14 September [O.S. 1 September], 1911, in the presence of Tsar Nicholas II and his two eldest daughters, Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana.

© Russia Info-Centre. 9 June, 2011



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:33 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Monument to Stolypin to Appear in Moscow
Topic: Stolypin, Pyotr

Monumental Art Committee at Moscow City Council has approved the idea of setting up a monument to the well-known reformer Pyotr Stolypin.       

However, the future place of the monument and its financial source still remain unknown.

In 2002 the Committee already considered the possibility of creating a monument to Stolypin, however the experts then decided that one monument to the reformer in St. Petersburg is enough. Instead, it was decided to put up a monument to the storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. After all it was never established due to the economical crisis.

Next year will be the 150th anniversary since Pyotr Stolypin's birth.

© Russia Info-Centre. 22 March, 2011


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:20 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 4:07 PM EDT
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