Taking a New Look at Pyotr Stolypin`s Legacy

Pyotr Stolypin, Prime Minister of Russia 1906-1911
Portrait by Ilya Glazunov (2002)

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An organizational committee founded by President Dmitry Medvedev to mark in 2012 the 150th anniversary since the birth of one of the country’s most outstanding political figures, Pyotr Stolypin, held its first meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. The committee is led by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The agenda of the meeting features dozens of initiatives, including the opening of a monument to Stolypin in central Moscow and the organization of a series of conferences dedicated to his legacy, in Russia and abroad.

Pyotr Stolypin`s played a unique role in the Russian history of the early 20th century. His reforms have not become outdated since then.

Stolypin made a brilliant political career. A graduate of the department of Mathematics and Physics of the Saint Petersburg State University, Stolypin could boast excellent analytical skills. Very soon he made his mind to begin his service in government. At the age of 27 he was elected marshal of the Kovno Governorate (the territory of present-day Lithuania). In 1902, at the age of 40 he was appointed governor in Grodno where he was the youngest person ever appointed to this position. Three years later Nicolas II appointed Stolypin as Prime Minister. Political analyst Boris Chernikov says that Stolypin was a kind of a politician Russia needed so badly at the time. “We`ve always been good at generating ideas but very few people had the nerve to express their political will and stand up for it. Stolypin was a true patriot”, Chernikov says.

Stolypin is best known for his agrarian reforms. The main goal was to form a civil society in Russia and thus help the country to withstand the global economic competition. Executive Director at the Pyotr Stolypin Foundation, Konstantin Mogilevsky, comments: “Peasants were offered to have some land of their own and were also offered loans to develop their individual farming. Like some of his other reforms, Stolypin`s agrarian reform proved very successful and placed Russia among the countries with speedy economic growth. Remarkably, during the Stolypin reforms there was also registered a rapid population growth, by more than 3 million people per year”.

The Stolypin agrarian reforms included resettlement benefits for peasants who moved to Siberia and the Far East (the number of people who migrated there stood at more than 3 million people). The resettlement resulted in the creation of many villages and even towns which still exist in present-day Russia. Agriculture was flourishing, with crop production bringing even more profit than the exports of Siberian gold.

Stolypin knew that the reforms would take time. He said: “Give us twenty years of peace, and you will not recognize Russia”. But this did not happen. Stolypin was assassinated in 1911, and six years later the Bolshevik Revolution happened and the Stolypin reforms were forgotten for a long time.

Today his ideas are needed again. The Russian government focuses on the modernization of agricultural industry, the system of local government, as well as on some social and political reforms. It proves that the ideas once proclaimed by Pyotr Stolypin require a new approach for the sake of successful economic development of present-day Russia.

Source & Copyright: The Voice of Russia
15 July, 2011