Pyotr Stolypin


Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (Russian: Пётр Арка́дьевич Столы́пин, IPA: [pʲɵtr ɐrˈkadʲjɪvʲɪtɕ stɐˈlɨpʲɪn]; 14 April [O.S. 2 April] 1862 – 18 September [O.S. 5 September] 1911) was a Russian politician and statesman. He served as the third prime minister and the interior minister of the Russian Empire from 1906 until his assassination in 1911.

Pyotr Stolypin
Пётр Столыпин
Pyotr Stolypin LOC 07327.jpg
3rd Prime Minister of Russia
In office
21 July 1906 – 18 September 1911
MonarchNicholas II
Preceded byIvan Goremykin
Succeeded byVladimir Kokovtsov
Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia
In office
26 April 1906 – 18 September 1911
Prime MinisterIvan Goremykin
Preceded byPyotr Durnovo
Succeeded byAlexander Makarov
Personal details
Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin

(1862-04-14)14 April 1862
Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony, German Confederation
Died18 September 1911(1911-09-18) (aged 49)
Kiev, Kiev Governorate, Southwestern Krai, Russian Empire
Cause of deathHomicide
Resting placeKyiv Pechersk Lavra, Ukraine
Spouse(s)Olga Borisovna von Neidhardt
Princess Natalia Mikhailovna Gorchakova

Born in Dresden, Germany, to a prominent Russian aristocratic family, Stolypin became involved in government from his early 20s. His successes in public service led to rapid promotions, culminating in his appointment as interior minister under prime minister Ivan Goremykin in April 1906. In July, Goremykin resigned and was succeeded as prime minister by Stolypin.

As prime minister, Stolypin initiated major agrarian reforms, known as the Stolypin reform, that granted the right of private land ownership to the peasantry. His tenure was also marked by increased revolutionary unrest, to which he responded with a new system of martial law that allowed for the arrest, speedy trial, and execution of accused offenders. Subject to numerous assassination attempts, Stolypin was fatally shot in September 1911 by revolutionary Dmitry Bogrov in Kiev.

Stolypin was a monarchist and hoped to strengthen the throne by modernizing the rural Russian economy. Modernity and efficiency, rather than democracy, were his goals. He argued that the land question could only be resolved and revolution averted when the peasant commune was abolished and a stable landowning class of peasants, the kulaks, would have a stake in the status quo. His successes and failures have been the subject of heated controversies among scholars, who agree he was one of the last major statesmen of Imperial Russia with clearly defined public policies and the determination to undertake major reforms.[1]

Early life and careerEdit

Stolypin was born at Dresden in the Kingdom of Saxony, on 14 April 1862, and was baptized on 24 May in the Russian Orthodox Church in that city.[2] His father, Arkady Dmitrievich Stolypin (1821–99), was at the time a Russian envoy.

Stolypin's family was prominent in the Russian aristocracy, his forebears having served the tsars since the 16th century, and as a reward for their service had accumulated huge estates in several provinces. His father Arkady Dmitrievich Stolypin (1821–99), was a general in the Russian artillery, the governor of Eastern Rumelia and commandant of the Kremlin Palace guard.[citation needed] He was married twice. His second wife, Natalia Mikhailovna Stolypina (née Gorchakova; 1827–89), was the daughter of Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov, the Commanding general of the Russian infantry during the Crimean War and later the governor general of Warsaw.[citation needed]

Pyotr grew up on the family estate Serednikovo (Russian: Середниково) in Solnechnogorsky District, once inhabited by Mikhail Lermontov, near Moscow Governorate. In 1879 the family moved to Oryol. Stolypin and his brother Aleksandr studied at the Oryol Boys College where he was described by his teacher, B. Fedorova, as 'standing out among his peers for his rationalism and character.'[3]

Photo of 14-year-old Stolypin

In 1881 Stolypin studied agriculture at St. Petersburg University where one of his teachers was Dmitri Mendeleev.[4] He entered government service upon graduating in 1885, writing his thesis on tobacco growing in the south of Russia. It is unclear if he joined the Ministry of State Property or Internal Affairs.

In 1884, Stolypin married Olga Borisovna von Neidhart whose family was of a similar standing to Stolypin's.[5] They married whilst Stolypin was still a student, an uncommon occurrence at the time. The marriage began in tragic circumstances: Olga had been engaged to Stolypin's brother, Mikhail, who died in a duel. The marriage was a happy one, devoid of scandal. The couple had five daughters and one son.[6]


Stolypin spent much of his life and career in Lithuania, then administratively known as Northwestern Krai of the Russian Empire.

Stolypin's favourite manor palace in Kalnaberžė

From 1869, Stolypin spent his childhood years in Kalnaberžė manor (now Kėdainiai district of Lithuania), built by his father, a place that remained his favorite residence for the rest of life.[7] In 1876, the Stolypin family moved to Vilna (now Vilnius), where he attended grammar school.

Stolypin served as marshal of the Kovno Governorate (now Kaunas, Lithuania) between 1889 and 1902. This public service gave him an inside view of local needs and allowed him to develop administrative skills.[8] His thinking was influenced by the single-family farmstead system of the Northwestern Krai, and he later sought to introduce the land reform based on private ownership throughout the Russian Empire.[9]

Stolypin's service in Kovno was deemed a success by the Russian government. He was promoted seven times, culminating in his promotion to the rank of state councilor in 1901. Four of his daughters were also born during this period; his daughter Maria recalled: "this was the most calm period [of] his life".[4]

In May 1902 Stolypin was appointed governor in Grodno Governorate, where he was the youngest person ever appointed to this position.

Governor of SaratovEdit

Stolypin by Ilya Repin

In February 1903 he became governor of Saratov. Stolypin is known for suppressing strikers and peasant unrest in January 1905. According to Orlando Figes, its peasants were among the poorest and most rebellious in the whole of the country.[10] It seems he cooperated with the zemstvos, the local government. He gained a reputation as the only governor able to keep a firm hold on his province during the Revolution of 1905, a period of widespread revolt. The roots of unrest lay partly in the Emancipation Reform of 1861, which had given land to the Obshchina, instead of individually to the newly freed serfs.[11] Stolypin was the first governor to use effective police methods. Some sources suggest that he had a police record on every adult male in his province.[12]

Interior minister and prime ministerEdit

Stolypin's successes as provincial governor led to Stolypin being appointed interior minister under Ivan Goremykin in April 1906. He instigated a new track of the Trans-Siberian Railway along the Amur River within Russian borders.

After two months, Dmitri Feodorovich Trepov suggested the absent-minded Goremykin ought to step down and secretly met with Pavel Milyukov, who promoted a cabinet with only Kadets, which in his opinion would soon enter into a violent conflict with Tsar Nicholas II and fail. Trepov opposed Stolypin, who promoted a coalition cabinet.[13] Georgy Lvov and Alexander Guchkov tried to convince the tsar to accept liberals in the new government.

When Goremykin, described by his predecessor Sergei Witte as a bureaucratic nonentity, resigned on 21 July [O.S. 8 July] 1906, Nicholas II appointed Stolypin to serve as Prime Minister, while continuing on as Minister of the Interior, an unusual concentration of power in Imperial Russia.[citation needed] He dissolved the Duma, despite the reluctance of some of its more radical members, in order to facilitate government cooperation. In response, 120 Kadet and 80 Trudovik and Social Democrat deputies went to Vyborg (then a part of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland and thus beyond the reach of Russian police) and responded with the Vyborg Manifesto (or the "Vyborg Appeal"), written by Pavel Milyukov. Stolypin allowed the signers to return to the capital unmolested.[citation needed]

Stolypin's wooden villa after the attempted assassination. One third was blown to pieces.

On 25 August 1906, three assassins from the Union of Socialists Revolutionaries Maximalists, wearing military uniforms, bombed a public reception Stolypin was holding at his dacha on Aptekarsky Island. Stolypin was only slightly injured by flying splinters, but 28 others were killed. Stolypin's 15-year-old daughter was heavily wounded; his 3-year-old son was slightly wounded, standing with his sister on the balcony.[14] Stolypin moved into the Winter Palace. In October 1906, at the request of the Tsar, Grigori Rasputin paid a visit to the wounded child.[15] On 9 November by an imperial decree far reaching changes in land tenure law were put in operation which attacked in one sweep the communal and the household (family) property system.[16]

Stolypin changed the nature of the First Duma to attempt to make it more willing to pass legislation proposed by the government.[17][18] On 8 June 1907, Stolypin dissolved the Second Duma, and 15 Kadets, who had been in contact with terrorists, were arrested; he also changed the weight of votes in favor of the nobility and wealthy, reducing the value of lower-class votes.[18] The leading Kadets were ineligible. This affected the elections to the Third Duma, which returned much more conservative members, more willing to cooperate with the government.[19] It changed Georgy Lvov from a moderate liberal into a radical.[20]

Distribution of newly formed farms in Grodno Governorate (1909)

In Saratov, Stolypin had come to the conviction that the open field system had to be abolished; communal land tenure had to go. The chief obstacle appeared to be the Mir (commune). Its dissolution and the individualization of peasant land ownership became the leading objectives of agrarian policy.[21] Like in Denmark, he introduced land reforms in order to resolve peasant grievances and quell dissent. Stolypin proposed his own landlord-sided reform in opposition to those democratic proposals which led to the dissolution of the first two Russian parliaments.[22] Stolypin's reforms aimed to stem peasant unrest by creating a class of market-oriented smallholding landowners, who would thus support societal order.[23] (See article "Stolypin's Reform").[24] He was assisted by Alexander Krivoshein, who in 1908 became the Minister of Agriculture. In June 1908 Stolypin lived in a wing of the Yelagin Palace;[25] where the Council of Ministers also convened.[26]

Supported by the Peasants' Land Bank, the amount of credit cooperatives increased from 1908. Russian industry was booming.[27] Stolypin tried to improve the lives of urban laborers and worked towards increasing the power of local governments, but the zemstvos adopted an attitude hostile to the government.

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."[28]

Stolypin attempted to improve the acrimonious relations between the Russian Orthodox and Jewish citizens at the level of nationalities policy. Sergey Sazonov was the brother-in-law of Stolypin and did his best to further his career; in 1910 he became Minister of Foreign Affairs, following Count Alexander Izvolsky. Around 1910 the press started a campaign against Rasputin, who was accused of paying too much attention to young girls and women. Stolypin wanted to ban him from the capital and threatened to prosecute him as a sectarian.[citation needed] Rasputin went on a trip to Jerusalem and came back to St. Petersburg only after Stolypin's death.

On 14 June 1910, Stolypin's land reform measures became a full-fledged law.[29] He also proposed spreading the system of zemstvo to the southwestern provinces of Asian Russia. It was originally slated to pass with a narrow majority, but Stolypin's political opponents stopped it. "Stolypin resigned in March of 1911 from the fractious and chaotic Duma after the failure of his land-reform bill".[30] Tsar Nicholas II decided to look for a successor to Stolypin and considered Sergei Witte, Vladimir Kokovtsov and Alexei Khvostov.[citation needed]

Pyotr Stolypin's reforms produced astounding results within a few years. Between 1906 and 1915, thanks to the efforts of Stolypin's farmers, the productivity of crops nationwide grew by 14 percent, in Siberia by 25 percent. In 1912, Russia's grain exports exceeded by 30 percent those of Argentina, the United States and Canada combined.[31]


Kiev Opera House where Stolypin was assassinated
Stolypin's burial.

Stolypin traveled to Kiev despite police warnings that an assassination plot was afoot as there had already been 10 attempts to kill him. On 14 September [O.S. 1 September] 1911, there was a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Kiev Opera House in the presence of the Tsar and his two oldest daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana. The theater was occupied by 90 men posted as interior guards.[32] According to Alexander Spiridovich, after the second act "Stolypin was standing in front of the ramp separating the parterre from the orchestra, his back to the stage. On his right were Baron Freedericks and Gen. Sukhomlinov." His personal bodyguard had stepped out to smoke. Stolypin was shot twice, once in the arm and once in the chest, by Dmitry Bogrov, a Jewish leftist revolutionary. Bogrov ran to one of the entrances and was caught. Stolypin rose from his chair, removed his gloves and unbuttoned his jacket, exposing a blood-soaked waistcoat. He gave a gesture to tell the Tsar to go back and made the sign of the cross. He never lost consciousness, but his condition deteriorated. He died four days later.[33]

Bogrov was hanged 10 days after the assassination. The judicial investigation was halted by order of the Tsar, giving rise to suggestions that the assassination was planned not by leftists, but by conservative monarchists who were afraid of Stolypin's reforms and his influence on the Tsar. However, this has never been proven. On his request, Stolypin was buried in the city where he was murdered.[10]


A statue of Pyotr Stolypin near the Kyiv City Duma building, removed after the February Revolution.
Stolypin's grave in the Pechersk Monastery (Lavra) in Kyiv.

Since 1905 Russia had been plagued by revolutionary unrest and discontent was widespread among the population. With broad support, leftist organizations waged a violent campaign against the autocracy; throughout Russia, many police officials and bureaucrats were assassinated. "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."[28] To respond to these attacks, Stolypin introduced a new court system of martial law, that allowed for the arrest and speedy trial of accused offenders. Over 3,000 (possibly 5,500) suspects were convicted and executed by these special courts between 1906 and 1909.[citation needed] In a Duma session on 17 November 1907, Kadet party member Fedor Rodichev [ru] referred to the gallows as "Stolypin's efficient black Monday necktie". As a result, Stolypin challenged Rodichev to a duel, but the Kadet party member decided to apologize for the phrase in order to avoid the duel. Nevertheless, the expression remained, as did the phrase "Stolypin car".[citation needed]

The opinions on Stolypin's work are divided. Some[who?] hold that, in the unruly atmosphere after the Russian Revolution of 1905, he had to suppress violent revolt and anarchy.[citation needed] However, historians disagree over how realistic Stolypin's policies were. Others,[who?] however, have argued that, while it is true that the conservatism of most peasants prevented them from embracing progressive change, Stolypin was correct in thinking that he could "wager on the strong" since there was indeed a layer of strong peasant farmers. This argument is based on evidence drawn from tax returns data, which shows that a significant minority of peasants were paying increasingly higher taxes from the 1890s, a sign that their farming was producing higher profits.[citation needed]

There remains doubt whether, even without the interruption of Stolypin's murder and the First World War, his agricultural policy would have succeeded. The deep conservatism from the mass of peasants made them slow to respond. In 1914 the strip system was still widespread, with only around 10% of the land having been consolidated into farms.[34] Most peasants were unwilling to leave the security of the commune for the uncertainty of individual farming. Furthermore, by 1913, the government's own Ministry of Agriculture had itself begun to lose confidence in the policy.[34] Nevertheless, Krivoshein became the most powerful figure in the Imperial government.

Published in the Paris newspaper "Social-Democrat" on 31 October 1911, in an article titled "Stolypin and the Revolution", Lenin, calling for the "mortification of the uber-lyncher",[35] said: ″Stolypin tried to pour new wine into old bottles, to reshape the old autocracy into a bourgeois monarchy; and the failure of Stolypin's policy is the failure of tsarism on this last, the last conceivable, road for tsarism."[36]

In "Name of Russia", a 2008 television poll to select "the greatest Russian", Stolypin placed second, behind Alexander Nevsky and followed by Joseph Stalin.[37] He is seen by his admirers as the greatest statesman Russia ever had, the one who could have saved the country from revolution and the civil war.[38]

On 27 December 2012, a monument to Pyotr Stolypin was unveiled in Moscow to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The monument is situated near the Russian White House where the Russian Cabinet is situated.[39] At the foot of the pedestal, a bronze plaque has written on it a well-known expression of Stolypin: "We must all unite in defense of Russia, coordinate our efforts, our duties and our rights in order to maintain one of Russia's historic supreme rights - to be strong."

Screen portrayalsEdit

Stolypin is portrayed in the opening scenes of the 1971 British film Nicholas and Alexandra, anachronistically taking part in the Romanov dynasty tercentenary celebrations of 1913 before being assassinated later in the film, two years after the date of his actual assassination.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Abraham Ascher, P. A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia (2001).
  2. ^ "WebCite query result". Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2016. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  3. ^ Fedorovo, B.G. (2002). "I believe in Russia": a Biography of Petr Stolypin. Limbus Press.
  4. ^ a b Bok, M.P. (1953). Vospominaniya o moem otse P.A. Stolypina. New York: Chekhov publishers.
  5. ^ "Stolypin, Pyotr Aleksandrovich". Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  6. ^ Blumberg, Arnold. Great Leaders, Great Tyrants?: Contemporary Views of World Rulers Who Made History, p. 302. Greenwood Press, 1995, ISBN 0-313-28751-1.
  7. ^ " - Reliģija un reliģiskie uzskati". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  8. ^ Figes, Orlando (2017). A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution. The Bodley Head. p. 223. ISBN 978-1-847-92451-3.
  9. ^ "Vilniuje įamžintas rusų reformatoriaus P.Stolypino atminimas". Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  10. ^ a b O. Figes (1996) A People's Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, p. 223.
  11. ^ PyotrArkadevich Stolypin © 2000–2013 Pearson Education, publishing as Fact Monster. 20 May. 2014
  12. ^ "Peter Stolypin - History Learning Site". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  13. ^ Charles Louis Seeger (1 January 1921). "Recollections of a Foreign Minister". Doubleday Page & Company. Retrieved 12 March 2017 – via Internet Archive.
  14. ^ "Bomb kills 28 - Hurts Stolypin" (PDF). The New York Times. 26 August 1906.
  15. ^ Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (24 September 2012). Rasputin: The Untold Story. Wiley. ISBN 9781118226933.
  16. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 103-104.
  17. ^ Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, p. 225
  18. ^ a b Oxley, Peter (2001). Russia, 1855 - 1991: from tsars to commissars. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-913418-9.
  19. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 101. Harvard University Press
  20. ^ O. Figes (1996) A People's Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, p. 220
  21. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 102.
  22. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 106
  23. ^ "Stolypin, Piotr Arkadevich". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  24. ^ "P.A. Stolypin and the Attempts of Reforms". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  25. ^ Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film, With a New Postscript by Jay Leyda, p. 32
  26. ^ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (2014). August 1914: A Novel: The Red Wheel I. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 601. ISBN 978-0-374-71212-9.
  27. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 112-114.
  29. ^ Lazar Volin (1970) A century of Russian agriculture. From Alexander II to Khrushchev, p. 103.
  30. ^ Hackard, Mark (7 September 2011). "Solzhenitsyn: Stolypin's Murder". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  31. ^ "Pioneering Land Reform - News". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  32. ^ Design, Pallasart Web. "Murder of Prime Minister Stolypin in Kiev 1911 - Blog & Alexander Palace Time Machine". Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  33. ^ Quotes from General Alexander Spiridovitch, "Murder of Prime Minister Stolypin in Kiev 1911" (1929) translated by Rob Moshein
  34. ^ a b Lynch, Michael From Autocracy to Communism: Russia 1894-1941 p.42 ISBN 978-0-340-96590-0
  35. ^ Lenin in France – Stolypin and the Revolution (Ленин во Франции - Столыпин и революция).
  36. ^ Stolypin and the Revolution
  37. ^ Stalin voted third-best Russian BBC
  38. ^ O. Figes (1996) A People's Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891-1924, p. 221.
  39. ^ "Monument to P.A. Stolypin | Sculptor Andrey Korobtsov". Retrieved 9 December 2021.

Further readingEdit

  • Ascher, Abraham (2001). P. A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3977-3.
  • Conroy, M.S. (1976), Peter Arkadʹevich Stolypin: Practical Politics in Late Tsarist Russia, Westview Press, (Boulder), 1976. ISBN 0-8915-8143-X
  • Fuhrmann, Joseph T. (2013). Rasputin, the untold story (illustrated ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-118-17276-6.
  • Kotsonis, Yanni (2011). "The problem of the individual in the Stolypin reforms". Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 12 (1): 25–52.
  • Lieven, Dominic, ed. The Cambridge History of Russia: Volume 2, Imperial Russia, 1689-1917 (2015)
  • Macey, David (2004). "Reflections on peasant adaptation in rural Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century: the Stolypin agrarian reforms". Journal of Peasant Studies. 31 (3–4): 400–426. doi:10.1080/0306615042000262634. S2CID 154275204.
  • McDonald, David MacLaren (1992). United Government and Foreign Policy in Russia, 1900-1914. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674922396.
  • Pallot, Judith. Land reform in Russia, 1906-1917: peasant responses to Stolypin's project of rural transformation (1999). online
  • Pares, Bernard. A History of Russia (1926) pp 495–506. Online
  • Pares, Bernard. The Fall of the Russian Monarchy (1939) pp 94–143. Online
  • Shelokhaev, Valentin V. (2016). "The Stolypin Variant of Russian Modernization". Russian Social Science Review. 57 (5): 350–377. doi:10.1080/10611428.2016.1229962. S2CID 141548699.

External linksEdit

  •   Quotations related to Pyotr Stolypin at Wikiquote
  •   Media related to Pyotr Stolypin at Wikimedia Commons
  • Stolypin and the Russian Agrarian Miracle
  • The ancestors of Pyotr Stolypin(in Russian)
  • Newspaper clippings about Pyotr Stolypin in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
  • Stolypin: Reformist ahead of his time
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of Interior
26 April 1906 – 18 September 1911
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Russia
21 July 1906 – 18 September 1911
Succeeded by