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Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirskii

Prince Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Mirskii (Russian: князь Пётр Дмириевич Святополк-Мирский August 18 [O.S. August 6] 1857 - May 16 [O.S. May 3] 1914 ) was a Russian politician and police official, Minister of a Interior in 1904 - 1905. He was the son of the general Dmitry Ivanovitch Sviatopolk-Mirskii and father of the literary historian D. S. Mirsky.

Pyotr was born in the Vladikavkaz into a well-known and distinguished family. He was educated at Page Corps (graduated in 1874 with the first-class honours) and was appointed Page of the Chamber. In 1875 he became a coronet at Her Empress Leib-Guards Hussars.

Pyotr Dmitrievich took part in Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78 and was decorated for his valor in the Battle of Kars. Then he studied at the General Staff Academy (graduated in 1881). In 1884 he was the acting commander of staff of 31st Infantry division, in 1887 he was the commander of staff of 3d Grenadier division. In 1895 he was appointed the Governor of Penza, in 1897 the Governor of Yekaterinoslav.

In 1900 Sipiagin appointed him Assistant Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Imperial Corps of Gendarmes. After Sipiagin's assassination (1902) Sviatopolk-Mirskii resigned as Assistant Minister but was persuaded to accept the position of Governor-General of the North-Western province that included gubernias of Vilna, Kovno and Grodno (that is modern-day Lithuania and most of the Belarus). As the Governor-General, Sviatopolk-Mirskii was credited with successful liberal reforms, defusing national tensions in the provence by allowing more rights to the national minorities, stopping pogroms against the Jews.

In July, 1904 he succeeded to the position of Minister of the Interior after Plehve's assassination. His appointment was seen as a victory of Liberals over the Conservatives and in the Court term as a victory of the party of widow Empress Maria Fyodorovna (who supported the liberal reforms and was a patroness of Pyotr's sister Olga) over the party of Empress consort Alexandra Fyodorovna.

Conservative Ministers Witte and Sipiagin credited Sviatopolk-Mirskii with being an honorable, intelligent man of the highest moral principles, which is notable due to his attempts at liberal reform in Imperial Russia while Minister. These reforms began with permitting members of the local Zemstvos to gather to discuss broader policy issues and coordination of Zemstvo programs, something that had not been permitted in Russia regularly. The remaining reforms were embodied in a decree that called for the inclusion of elected members to the State Council, removal of the restrictions on the Old Believers, measures to strengthen legality, extend freedom of the press and religion, broaden the authority of local self-government, eliminate unnecessary restrictions on non-Russians, and do away with exceptional laws in general. Sviatopolk-Mirskii not only allowed the congress, but also participated in its work and personally delivered its decision to Tsar Nicholas II along with his own plan for constitutional reforms.

The Sviatopolk-Mirskii's plan included transferring more power to the State Council of Imperial Russia. The plan was much less radical than the reforms implemented by the October Manifesto 1905, but in December 1904 it was considered ultra-radical and was dismissed.

On January 22 [O.S. January 9] 1905 occurred the massacre of a peaceful demonstration in Saint Petersburg, known as Bloody Sunday. According to Pyotr Dmitrievich Sviatopolk-Miirskii he never had authorised the shooting of the demonstrators, but still fulfilled his final duty to the Tsar, becoming the scapegoat for the massacre. According to Miirskii's opponents he not only did authorised the shooting but also in order to push his own political agenda actively encouraged the demonstration.

Sviatopolk-Mirskii was replaced as Minister of the Interior by Bulygin in February 1905 and retired from government service. As a retired Minister of Interior he was expected to be appointed a member of the State Council of Imperial Russia, but it was not the case. He retired from the political life until his death in May 16, 1914.

References and links

Preceded by
Vyacheslav von Plehve
Minister of Interior
July 1904 – February 1905
Succeeded by
Alexander Bulygin
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