Ivan Longinovich Goremykin

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(18391917), minister of interior and twice prime minister under Nicholas II.

Ivan Loginovich Goremykin was the prototypical bureaucrat and conservative leader of late tsarist times, and became, especially during World War I, a symbol of the old regime's outdatedness and resistance to change.

Born of a noble family, Goremykin spent his long life almost entirely in public service. During the 1860s, while an official in Russian Poland, he took a special interest in peasant affairs, and later he was involved in many studies of rural issues. Characteristic of his record, however, he never proposed any solutions. After various posts in the Senate, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Interior, Goremykin was appointed minister of Interior in October 1895 by the new tsar, Nicholas II, who valued him as a "safe" bureaucrat and a staunch supporter of the autocracy. Goremykin assured Nicholas that Russian society was basically stable and only some "completion and repair" was required to fix minor problems. Goremykin proposed extending the zemstvo system into the empire's western provinces plus a few borderlands, but Nicholas, fearing the spread of liberal ideas, decided in October 1899 to replace Goremykin.

After the tsar became disillusioned with Sergei Witte's reform efforts in 1905 and 1906, he fired Witte as prime minister in April 1906 and brought in Goremykin, then sixty-seven years old. Goremykin discarded the program Witte had intended to submit to the First Duma and stonewalled the Duma's demands. Having decided to dismiss the Duma and seeking a stronger leader, the tsar sent Goremykin into retirement in July 1906, replacing him with Peter Stolypin.

But in January 1914 Goremykin, at the age of seventy-four, again became prime minister. Because of his frailty and lack of initiative and because he rebuffed public attempts to improve the government's war effort, Goremykin came to symbolize the regime's incompetence and callousness. Despite public pressure, Nicholas II stuck by his decrepit prime minister until January 1916, when Goremykin was finally replaced.

See also: nicholas ii; stolypin, peter akradievich; witte, sergei yulievich


Hosking, Geoffrey. (1973). The Russian Constitutional Experiment: Government and Duma, 19071914. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kokovtsov, V. N. (1935). Out of My Past. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Lincoln, W. Bruce. (1986). Passage through Armageddon: The Russians in War and Revolution, 19141918. New York: Simon and Schuster.

John M. Thompson

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