1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Loris-Melikov, Michael Tarielovich, Count

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17
Loris-Melikov, Michael Tarielovich, Count

LORIS-MELIKOV, MICHAEL TARIELOVICH, Count (1825?–1888), Russian statesman, son of an Armenian merchant, was born at Tiflis in 1825 or 1826, and educated in St Petersburg, first in the Lazarev School 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 Aladja Dagh, took Kars by storm, and laid siege to Erzerum. For these services he received the title of Count. In the following year he was appointed 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 being appointed chief of the Supreme Executive Commission which had been created in St Petersburg 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 a large scheme of administrative and economic reforms. Alexander II., 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 in March 1881 that the emperor signed a ukaz 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 immediately resigned, and lived in retirement until his death, which took place at Nice on the 22nd of December 1888.  (D. M. W.)