23 April 2003, 03:27

Loris-Melikov, Mikhail Tarielovich

Earl, statesman of Russia, adjutant general, member of State Council.

Born 1825 (the exact date is not detected) in Tiflis, in a family of a wealthy Armenian nobleman. Studied in Lazarevsky Institute, then in the Guard Ensigns and Cavalry Cadets School in St. Petersburg. His moral education was largely influenced by his friendship with N.A. Nekrasov, a poet not very well known at that time, with whom Loris-Melikov rented an apartment together for several months. In 1843, the young cornet was sent to Leib Guard Grodno Hussar Regiment where he proved himself an educated, disciplined, and thoughtful officer. Noting these qualities, the military commandment transferred Loris-Melikov to the Caucasus in 1847, where he took part in the military actions against Shamil, performing miracles of bravery and heroism.

During the Crimean War of 1853 - 1856, Loris-Melikov proved brilliant diplomatic talent by leading a guerilla detachment whose task was to cut the external relations of the Turkish fortress Kars blockaded by Russian troops. The detachment consisted of Armenians, Georgians, Kurds, etc. The knowledge of several middle-east languages, natural tactfulness, and good will helped him accomplish successfully his task: even the enemy had to acknowledge that.

In 1861, Loris-Melikov was appointed the military commander of South Dagestan and simultaneously the mayor of Derbent. Since 1863, was the top official of the vast Terek Region. Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov spent about ten years in this position, showing this time brilliant administrative abilities: in a short period of time, he prepared the local population so well for the perception of citizenship that already in 1869 was it possible to establish the administration of the Region basing the general provincial system and even pass the court statutes of Emperor Alexander the Second. Similar thing would not have been possible without Loris-Melikov's knowledge of the local customs and traditions and respect towards them. The fruitful activities of the Terek administrator can be testified by the fact that the number of educational institutions increased tenfold, and a handicraft college was established in Vladikavkaz on his account and named after him.

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov commanded independent corps in the rank of cavalry general and adjutant general at the Caucasian-Turkish border and de facto led the military action in the Caucasus. Under his guidance, the Russian troops captured the previously unassailable fortresses of Ardagan and Kars and blockaded Erzerum. Besides military talent, Loris-Melikov again demonstrated administrative and diplomatic abilities enjoying the trust of the civilians and subcontractors even in the enemy's territories, which allowed the Russian Treasury to save tens of millions of rubles. In 1878, after the peace was made with the Turks, Loris-Melikov was raised to an Earl. This was the high estimation of his merits before the Motherland by Emperor Alexander the Second.

Since January 1879, Earl Loris-Melikov was in the frontline again, this time with the plague striking the Volga provinces of the country. As an interim Governor General of Astrakhan, Saratov, and Samara with unlimited authority, Loris-Melikov won this struggle as well by introducing strict quarantine measures and improving the local sanitary conditions. Having made sure that all the pestholes have been exterminated, the earl personally solicits the Emperor to liquidate his Governor General position. An example untypical of Russian history, when a person of such high authority uses it not for personal enrichment and glory but in the interests of the state. One more fact to testify for the state mind and morals of Loris-Melikov: out of 4 million rubles assigned for the struggle with the plague, he only spent 308,000.

Loris-Melikov's return to St. Petersburg coincided with the establishment of interim Governor General institution, who were given virtually unlimited authority on the purpose of struggle with revolutionary movement (April 1879). Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov was immediately appointed interim Governor General of Kharkov, where Duke Kropotkin had been killed by terrorists shortly before that. Leading resolute struggle with revolutionary terror, Loris-Melikov, at the same time, was virtually the only statesman who tried to understand the essence of the phenomenon. To great extent, this helped him attract to his side the opposition part of the society and accomplish brilliantly his mission in Kharkov.

After the explosion in the Winter Palace carried out by S.N. Khalturin, on February 12, 1880, Loris-Melikov was appointed the head of the Supreme Administrative Commission and became a de-facto dictator.

On August 6, 1880, this commission was abolished, at Loris-Melikov's initiative, and he was appointed the Minister of Interior and the Gendarme Chief, which did not decrease his influence though. Continuing the struggle with revolutionary movement, Loris-Melikov softened the punitive measures in order to receive the approve of the liberal community.

A little later, Earl Loris-Melikov presented a report to Alexander the Second, in which he raised the issue of conducting a large number of reforms. This plan was approved by Emperor Alexander the Second on February 17, 1881, and put on the agenda of the Council of Ministers' meeting on March 4. However, as a result of Alexander the Second's assassination by narodovoltsy, Loris-Melikov's plan was rejected, and the manifesto of the new Emperor Alexander the Third on the autocracy strengthening followed soon. After that, on May 7, 1881, Loris-Melikov resigned from the position of the Minister of Interior and applied for retirement. M.T. Loris-Melikov spent the last years of his life abroad, being seriously ill and formally staying the member of the State Council. Died on December 12, 1888, in Nice. Buried in Tiflis.

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