Stolypin, Piotr Arkadevich

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Stolypin, Piotr Arkadevich

Piotr Arkadevich Stolypin (pyô´tər ərkä´dyĬvĬch stəlĬ´pĬn), 1862–1911, Russian premier and minister of the interior (1906–11) for Czar Nicholas II. He sought to fight the revolutionary movement with both severe repression and social reform. He instituted a regime of courts-martial to suppress revolutionary terrorism and peasant disorders, and hundreds were executed in 1906 and 1907. To stem peasant unrest Stolypin attempted to create a class of peasant landowners that would be conservative and loyal to the czar. The roots of unrest lay partly in the Edict of Emancipation of 1861 (see Emancipation, Edict of), which had given land to the village communes, instead of individually to the newly freed serfs. The commune usually distributed scattered strips to provide families with generally equal allotments. Stolypin's land reforms of 1906 gave the peasant communes the right to dissolve themselves, entitled each peasant to own and consolidate the strips given him by the commune, and provided financial aid to peasants who wished to buy more land. The land reform was designed to transform the peasants gradually into landowners without hurting the interests of the large landowners. At the same time it enabled peasants to seek industrial employment in the cities if they wished to leave the land. It was opposed by the leftist majority in the first duma, which favored extensive expropriation of the land. The first and second Dumas were dissolved, and Stolypin made sure of a conservative majority in the third Duma by altering (1907) the election laws. Some of Stolypin's measures were opposed by the Socialists and liberals, others by the extreme reactionaries. His agrarian reform came too late to conciliate the peasantry as a body. When the Russian Revolution of 1917 broke out, the number of small holdings had increased but not sufficiently to create a conservative peasant class. His attempt to extend the government's policy of Russification to Finland, where he restricted (1910) the authority of the diet, met with wide opposition. While his secret police continued their repressive activities, the government took no action against the anti-Jewish pogroms organized by extreme reactionary societies. Stolypin was assassinated by a revolutionary terrorist who was also a police agent.

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