Posts Tagged ‘Mikhail Loris-Melikov’

 

 

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

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Birth of Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov

(November 2, 1824)

 

Among many Armenian soldiers who served the Russian Empire, the name of Mikhail Loris-Melikov was also relevant for his political labor.

 

His actual name was Mikayel Loris-Melikian. He was the scion of an ancient noble family from Lori, which owned the province in the Middle Ages. They later entered the aristocratic society of Georgia, and the princely family of the Loris-Melikovs was approved in 1832 as part of the Russian nobility.

 

Mikhail Loris-Melikov was born on November 2, 1824, in Tiflis (Georgia), and was educated in St. Petersburg, first at the Lazarian Institute of Oriental Languages and afterwards at the Guards’ Cadet Institute. In 1843 he joined a hussar regiment and was sent to the Caucasus in 1847. He would spend some thirty years there and make a career both as a distinguished cavalry officer and an able administrator, working to ensure a transition from military to civil administration. He was governor of the region of Terek (nowadays the northeastern Caucasus) from 1863-1875.


Loris-Melikov, who reached the rank of cavalry general in 1875, commanded an army corps on the Ottoman frontier in Asia Minor during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. He took the fortress of Ardahan and was rebuffed by Ottoman general Ahmed Muhtar Pasha at Zevin, but he subsequently carried a conclusive victory over his opponent at Alaja, took the impregnable fortress of Kars by storm, and laid siege to Erzerum. His distinguished military service in the war earned him the title of Count, and he was awarded the Order of Saint George of the second degree for his service in Alaja in October 1877.

 

In 1878 Loris-Melikov was transferred to the region of the Lower Volga as temporary governor-general to combat an outbreak of the plague. His effectiveness at the work earned him another transfer, this time to the provinces to Central Russia to combat the terrorist activities of nihilists and anarchists.

 

He was successful in his task, and he was appointed chief of the Supreme Administrative Commission created in St. Petersburg after an assassination attempt against Czar Alexander II in February 1880. He showed his preference for the use of ordinary legal methods rather than exception extralegal measures, believing that the best policy was to strike at the root of the evil. He recommended a scheme of administrative and economic reforms to the Russian emperor with the aim of alleviating the causes of social discontent. Alexander II, who was not convinced of the efficacy of police repression, dissolved the Supreme Commission in August 1880 and appointed Count Loris-Melikov Interior Minister with exceptional powers in November.

 

The scheme of reforms was never carried out. On March 13, 1881, the very day that the emperor signed a decree creating several commissions to prepare reforms in various branches of government, he was the victim of a conspiracy by nihilist terrorists. His son and successor Alexander III adopted an anti-reformist policy and started to undo the reforms promulgated by his father. This led Loris-Melikov to resign in May and retire from active life. He wrote several historical and political works, living in Germany and then in Nice (France) until his death on December 24, 1888. His remnants were moved to Tiflis and buried in the courtyard of the Armenian monastery of Tiflis. 

 

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