Vorontsov-Dashkov, Illarion Ivanovich

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(18371916), viceroy of the Caucasus.

At a moment of great danger to the regime Tsar Nicholas II appointed his friend and councilor, Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov, viceroy (namestnik ) of the Caucasus in 1905. A loyal courtier, Count Vorontsov-Dashkov faced open rebellion, with most of western Georgia in the hands of insurgent peasants led by the Marxist Social Democrats. Harsh policies toward the Armenian Church (in 1903 their properties had been seized by the government), repression of the workers and peasants, and general disillusionment with the autocracy as the Russo-Japanese War went badly, led to the collapse of tsarist authority south of the Caucasian mountains. The new viceroy agreed to ameliorate the state's policies, return the Armenian church properties, and negotiate with the rebels. The tsar did not approve of these moderate policies and thought the best place for rebels was hanging from a tree. "The example would be beneficial to many," he wrote. But the viceroy prevailed, using both conciliatory and repressive measures to pacify the region.

The liberal methods of the viceroy improved relations among the various nationalities in the Caucasus. He was thought by many to be pro-Armenian, and did favor that nationality as it was well represented in local representative institutions and possessed great wealth and property. Vorontsov-Dashkov wrote to the tsar that the government had itself created the "Armenian problem by carelessly ignoring the religious and national views of the Armenians." But he also attempted to placate the Georgians and the Muslims and permitted education in the local languages. By the time Russia went to war with Turkey in 1915, Armenians formed volunteer units to fight alongside the Russian army against the Turks. Although there was resistance to the draft among Caucasian Muslims, and Georgians were unenthusiastic about the war effort, no major opposition was expressed. In 1915 Vorontsov-Dashkov left the Caucasus and was replaced by Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich. As Vorontsov-Dashkov departed Tiflis, he was made an honorary citizen of the city by the Armenian-dominated city duma, but neither the Georgian nobility nor Azerbaijani representatives appeared to bid him farewell.

See also: caucasus; nationalities policies, tsarist


Kazemzadeh, Firuz. (1951). The Struggle for Transcaucasia (19171921). New York: Philosophical Library.

Suny, Ronald Grigor. (1988). The Making of the Georgian Nation. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ronald Grigor Suny