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Mikhail Tarielovich

Mikhail Tarielovich

Loris-Melikov, Mikhail Tarielovich, 1826-88, Russian general and statesman, of Armenian descent. He was created count for his services in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and in 1880 was made minister of the interior by Alexander II. He promoted some liberal reforms, specifically in the educational system, and drafted a program to allow members of the zemstvos to play a minor advisory role in legislation. Alexander II approved this reform on the day he was assassinated (1884), but Alexander III voided the reform and dismissed its author. Loris-Melikov in his youth is portrayed in Leo Tolstoy's Hadjii Murad.

Count Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov (կոմս Միքայել Տարիելի Լորիս-Մելիքով; граф Михаил Тариелович Лорис-Меликов) (January 1, 1826December 22, 1888), Russian statesman, General of the Cavalry, Adjutant General of the Svita, son of an Armenian merchant of the Meliks of Lori, was born at Tiflis in 1825 or 1826, and educated in St Petersburg, first in the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages, and afterwards in the Guards' Cadet Institute. He joined a hussar regiment, and four years afterwards (1847) he was sent to the Caucasus, where he remained for more than twenty years, and made for himself during troublous times the reputation of a distinguished cavalry officer and an able administrator. In the latter capacity, though a keen soldier, he aimed always at preparing the warlike and turbulent population committed to his charge for the transition from military to normal civil administration, and in this work his favourite instrument was the schoolmaster.

In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 he commanded a separate corps d'armée on the Turkish frontier in Asia Minor. After taking the fortress of Ardahan, he was repulsed by Mukhtar Pasha at Zevin, but subsequently defeated his opponent at Aladzhi, took Kars by storm, and laid siege to Erzerum. For these services he received the title of Count. He was awarded the Order of Saint George of the second degree on October 27th 1877 for his service in Aladzhi.

In the following year Loris-Melikov became the temporary governor-general of the region of the Lower Volga to combat an outbreak of the plague. The measures he adopted proved so effectual that he was transferred to the provinces of Central Russia to combat the Nihilists and Anarchists, who had adopted a policy of terrorism, and had succeeded in assassinating the governor of Kharkov.

His success in this struggle led to his appointment as chief of the Supreme Executive Commission which had been created in St Petersburg after the February 1880 assassination attempt on the tsar to deal with the revolutionary agitation in general. Here, as in the Caucasus, he showed a decided preference for the employment of ordinary legal methods rather than exceptional extra-legal measures, and an attempt on his own life soon after he assumed office did not shake his convictions. In his opinion the best policy was to strike at the root of the evil by removing the causes of popular discontent, and for this purpose he recommended to the emperor Alexander II a large scheme of administrative and economic reforms. Alexander, who was beginning to lose faith in the efficacy of the simple method of police repression hitherto employed, lent a willing ear to the suggestion; and when the Supreme Commission was dissolved in August 1880, he appointed Count Loris-Melikov Minister of the Interior with exceptional powers.

The proposed scheme of reforms was at once taken in hand, but it was never carried out. On the very day (13 March 1881) that the emperor signed a ukase creating several commissions, composed of officials and eminent private individuals, who should prepare reforms in various branches of the administration, he was assassinated by Nihilist conspirators; and his successor, Alexander III, at once adopted a strongly reactionary policy. Count Loris-Melikov didn't immediately resign but when the new Emperor started to undo some of the reforms that his father, Alexander II had promulgated, Count Loris-Melikov resigned several months later and lived in retirement until his death, which took place at Nice on 22 December 1888.

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