Katkov, Mikhail Nikiforovich

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(18181887), Russian journalist and publicist.

The son of a minor civil servant, Mikhail Nikiforovich Katkov graduated from Moscow University in 1838 and attended lectures at Berlin University in 18401841. From 1845 to 1850 Katkov was an assistant professor of philosophy at Moscow University. In 1851 he became editor of the daily Moskovskie Vedomosti (Moscow News ), and in 1856 he also became editor of the journal Russky Vestnik (Russian Messenger ).

Katkov changed his political preferences several times during his life. In the 1830s he shared the ideas of the Russian liberal and radical intelligentsia and was close to the Russian literary critic Vissarion Belinsky, radical thinker Alexander Herzen, and the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin. In the early 1840s Katkov broke his connections with the radical intelligentsia, instead becoming an admirer of the British political system. During his early journalistic career, he supported the liberal reforms of Tsar Alexander II and wrote about the necessity of transforming the Russian autocracy into a constitutional monarchy.

The Polish uprising had a great impact on the changing of Katkov's political views from liberalism to Russian nationalism and chauvinism. He published a number of articles favoring reactionary domestic policies and aggressive pan-Slavic foreign policies for Russia. The historian Karel Durman wrote, "Katkov claimed to be the watchdog of the autocracy and this claim was widely recognized." As one of the closest advisors of Tsar Alexander III, Katkov had a great impact on Russian policies. According to the Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod Constantine Pobedonostsev, "there were ministries where not a single important action was undertaken without Katkov's participation." Durman points out that in no other country could a mere publicist standing outside the official power structure exercise such an influence as had Katkov in Russia.

See also: alexander ii; alexander iii; intelligentsia; journalism


Durman, Karel. (1988). The Time of the Thunderer. Mikhail Katkov, Russian Nationalist Extremism and the Failure of the Bismarckian System, 18711887. New York: Columbia University Press.

Katz, Martin. (1966). Mikhail N. Katkov. A Political Biography 18181887. Paris: Mouton & Co.

Victoria Khiterer