Military Review

The power of Russia in the Far East. Bezobravsky project

The power in the Far East is the dreams of Nicholas II, which he tried to turn into reality. And the retired officer of the Cavalry Regiment, Alexander Mikhailovich Bezobraz — an ardent supporter of an aggressive policy in the Far East — became the chief assistant in this matter. Initially it was assumed that the seizure will occur neatly and imperceptibly, as they say, on the sly. Under the guise of lumberjacks, the military headed for Korea, and the expansion itself was disguised as a trade concession.

The main thing - communication

First - a few words about the main character "territorial appetite." Aleksandr Mikhailovich was born in 1853 in the family of the St. Petersburg district nobleman Mikhail Alexandrovich and Countess Olga Grigorievna from the Noctitz family of kinship (first mentioned in Silesia in the 13 century). Mikhail Alexandrovich belonged to the old Bezobrazvykh family, tried to make a military career, but failed to achieve any significant success in this field. But the star of his son lit up with lightning speed ...

Alexander Mikhailovich graduated from the Corps of Pages in 1873 and served for three years in the Cavalry Guard Regiment with the rank of cornet. Then he was promoted to lieutenant. In 1877, Bezobraz went on a business trip to Nikolaev. She lasted four years. All this time he observed and controlled the process of a self-propelled mine invented by him. In 1879, Bezobrazov was promoted to staff captain, and three years later he went to the reserve of the Guards cavalry. But soon Alexander Mikhailovich received an appointment to the Main Department of State Horse Breeding. Then he was responsible for the economic part of the Imperial Hunting, was listed in the ranks of officials of special assignments at the Main Directorate of Eastern Siberia, was a correspondent for horse breeding in the Irkutsk province.

For excellent work Bezobrazov in 1897 year was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the fourth degree. And the next year, he retired with the rank of state councilor. Whatever post Zamil Alexander Mikhailovich, first of all, he was making connections. And then they are what is called cultivated. He was important to have the right person in any field and industry.

Actually, realizing the benefits, Bezobrav, back in 1881, joined the secret society “Voluntary Security”, which was later called the “Sacred Squad”. At the head of this organization was Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov. The main purpose of the "druzhina" was to fight against any attempts to shake the autocracy. Moreover, the "war" with sedition was not advertised and kept secret. Of course, in this field too, Alexander Mikhailovich managed to recommend himself well. Vorontsov-Dashkov considered him a true monarchist, so he approached himself. Bezobrazov this and sought, because Illarion Ivanovich had a powerful influence and was part of the sovereign’s inner circle.
The power of Russia in the Far East. Bezobravsky project

Alexander Mikhailovich Bezobrazova

The clever and cunning Bezobraz in his own way appreciated the possibilities and prospects of the Russian Empire in the Far East. He would be sure that the only key to success in that territory is an aggressive policy that does not take into account the interests of other states. Therefore, in the year 1896, Alexander Mikhailovich made an extensive note. In it, he explained in detail why the war between the Russian Empire and Japan is inevitable. One of the causes of the conflict, according to Bezobrav, was the aggressive policy of Japan in Korea and Manchuria. Accordingly, the clash of interests of the two countries will necessarily lead to armed conflict. And if so, then it is necessary to act. Alexander Mikhailovich developed a plan for "silent invasion". Simply put, he proposed along the Yalu River, which flows along the border between Manchuria and Korea, to create a network of commercial enterprises, as the British did. It is clear that under the guise of these very "enterprises" hid military barriers. It was assumed that the conquest of Korea will be quiet and imperceptible to the Japanese. And when the warlords of the Land of the Rising Sun would understand the situation, it would be too late.

This proposal has the effect of an exploding bomb. Senior officials and representatives of the elite vigorously discussed the venture Bezobrazov. One liked her, others - expressed the opposite point of view. And, curiously, the latter were much less. And the main opponent of the project was the Minister of Finance Sergey Yulievich Vitte. He believed that the state should not spend money from the treasury on an adventure with very vague prospects. But for Bezobrav, the opinion of the Minister of Finance did not play a special role. The fact is that among the sympathizers there were also very wealthy people who were ready to support him not only with words, but also with a ruble. In addition, his close relative Alexei Abaza, a former colleague Vladimir Vonlyarlyarsky, Russia's ambassador to Korea Nikolai Matyunin, and others have signed up as Bezobrav’s supporters. These same people, like some others, will then become representatives of the “bezobrazovskoy clique,” ​​that is, loyal associates of Aleksandr Mikhailovich. In addition to devotion to Bezobrazov, each of his "groupings" possessed a high position and connections. And yet, they all differed instincts on adventures that could bring significant benefits.

The few opponents of the venture Bezobrazov tried to convey to him a simple idea: the expansion will completely ruin the already complex relationship with Japan. It is clear that the interests of the state in the Far East must be considered and promoted this line, but it was necessary to do it carefully and carefully. Diplomats and some members of the government directly stated that getting involved in armed conflict with rapidly developing Japan is now a perilous idea. Since the Land of the Rising Sun considered Korea a zone of its political interests.

Situation in Korea

In general, by that time in Korea the Russian trace was already more than noticeable. All because of - greed and haste of the merchant from Vladivostok Julius Briner. Chasing cheap prices, he agreed with the Korean ruler on the right to use forest resources along the Yalu River. Moreover, this agreement was designed for two decades. Briner received in use a large area of ​​eight hundred miles, which stretched from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of ​​Japan. From this land, Bryner could do as he pleased. But, as they say, "but in the morning they woke up." The merchant, having considered his financial capabilities and having estimated the nearest prospect, decided that the transaction had turned out to be at a loss to him. Therefore, in order not to be left with nothing, he began to search for a new owner of the Korean land. Bezobraev took Briner's goods as a gift of fate, so he bought out all the rights from him.

So Alexander Mikhailovich appeared a springboard for the further promotion of his expansionist plan.

Sergey Yulievich Witte

Another interesting thing: the necessary amount for the repurchase of rights from Bezobrazov and his associates was not. Urgently needed to find investors. And this turned out to be problematic in view of the fact that the sovereign, in fact, had no relation to this project. Ideas lacked official status and the highest support. This problem and puzzled Bezobraz.

But it was just impossible to take and get an appointment with the emperor. So we had to use the right people. Assistance was provided by Count Vorontsov-Dashkov and Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich. The latter was among the zealous supporters of expansionist policies in the Far East. And the meeting took place. I must say that Nicholas II knew about the activities of Bezobrazov in the ranks of the "Sacred Squad". Therefore, the attitude of the sovereign to Alexander Mikhailovich was positive. Yes, and Bezobraz himself was notable for oratory. At the reception he told Nikolay II in colors about the prospects of the Russian Empire in the Far East and its power. The sovereign was imbued and sided with Alexander Mikhailovich. After all, he himself dreamed about the same.

Bezobraz and his supporters received the necessary, the highest support. Accordingly, there were no problems with the financing of the project since the sovereign was the guarantor. By the way, Nicholas II also participated in the venture, singling out a decent amount to Alexander Mikhailovich.

The sovereign's deed was not to the liking of the minister of the imperial court, Count Vladimir Borisovich Frederiks. In addition, the Minister spoke out against the fact that Bezobraz got an audience bypassing members of the government. At the personal meeting of Nicholas and Fredericks, the latter tried to sensitize the sovereign. He said that the participation of the emperor in the adventures can adversely affect both his own authority and the authority of the monarchy. Vladimir Borisovich did not believe that Bezobraz would calm down after receiving a couple of hundred thousand rubles for his project. The minister believed that this was only the beginning, and then there would be requests for the allocation of millions. Nikolai listened to Fredericks and promised to think and weigh everything. But it did not go further than words, since soon Vladimir Borisovich received an order to allocate Bezobrazov money.

Fredericks reacted painfully. And he filed a resignation. The sovereign clearly did not expect such a turn of the plot, so he had to persuade Vladimir Borisovich not to leave his post. He agreed. And with the money acted differently. The amount was declared a personal allowance Bezobravu, and not the financing of his project.

However, it was no easier for diplomats of the Russian Empire to change names. They continued to declare the difficult situation and the fatality of the aggressive moves against Japan. Witte, Count Lamsdorf, and the Minister of War Kuropatkin asserted this to Nicholas. They generally talked about the fact that, if necessary, it is worth “sacrificing” not only Korea, but also Manchuria. Like, losses due to possible war will be even more serious.

But the process has already been launched. The territory purchased from Briner was recorded in the name of Matyunin. And got the name "Russian Timber Partnership". And in the 1901 year its charter was approved, in which one interesting point was registered. It stated that the partnership has the right to forest guard. Alexander Semenovich Madritov, lieutenant colonel of the general staff, became the manager. Thanks to his efforts in the partnership, if I may say so, the leader of the Manchu tribe, the Hunhuzov Lynch, joined.

Bezobraz himself November 1902 to April 1903 of the year was in Port Arthur with the highest order. Here, Alexander Mikhailovich, without hesitation and fear, stated that it was imperative to oppose the expansionist policy of Japan, using all available resources to do so. According to the memoirs of contemporaries, Bezobrazov his words and behavior troubled Admiral Yevgeny Ivanovich Alekseev. And when Alexander Mikhailovich returned to St. Petersburg, he continued to advance his venture.

Using the support of high-ranking officials (including Interior Minister Vyacheslav Konstantinovich Plehve), Bezobrazov even managed to halt the evacuation of Russian troops from Manchuria. Neither Witte nor Kuropatkin could do anything about it. Nicholas II fully supported Bezobrazov, not listening to skeptical opponents of the undertaking. He persistently ignored the reports of Witte, who was trying with all his might to prove that the “Bezobrazovsky project” was a dummy, which portends only enormous costs. But Nikolai read the report of the special commission, which studied Korea for about a hundred days, and was sure that he was right. Here is an excerpt from the report: "... I saw a lot of wealth, wonderful forests of larch and cedar - three million acres - a lot of gold, silver, red copper, iron, coal." For the sake of this, according to the sovereign, one could take the risk.

In 1902, Bezobrazov began preparatory work to seize Korea. He hired to protect several hundred Chinese soldiers who were supposed to protect Russian lumberjacks. In fact, they had to protect the professional military.

This is how Minister Izvolsky spoke on this subject: “This is an absolutely fantastic enterprise, one of those fantastic projects that have always hit the imagination of Nicholas II, always inclined to chimerical ideas.” Kuropatkin didn’t keep silent: “The Sovereign dreams not only of the annexation of Manchuria and Korea, but even of the seizure of Afghanistan, Persia and Tibet”.

Rolled star

But Bezobravov already did not care. He received the position of State Secretary of His Majesty and continued to move confidently towards his goal. The forest, of course, was harvested, but they did it in minimal quantities just for cover. And in a short time, the Russian military was completely replaced by Alexander Mikhailovich in the Russian. And when this happened, they stopped hiding.

In the state then “very time” began popular unrest. And Nikolai even more strongly believed in the Bezobravov project. According to his royal logic, he reasoned: if he achieves significant success on the world stage, this will have a positive effect on the country and its inhabitants. Boiling passion can cool.

Nicholas II

That's just the relationship with China and Japan became worse and worse. When the construction of military buildings began, everything became completely clear to everyone. Japanese and British intelligence instantly reported on the activities of the Russian Empire. Nikolay and diplomats began to experience pressure from foreign countries, especially Japan, about which the emperor was repeatedly warned by opponents of Bezobrazov. The authorities of the Land of the Rising Sun were furious, so any negotiations ended in complete failure. Moreover, it was not possible to improve the situation inside the country. The seizure of Korea overnight turned into a stone, which pulled the drowned man to the bottom. In a panic, Nikolay ordered to drop everything and remove the soldiers. And soon the Russian concession was once Japanese. In Korea, the Russian-Korean bank was closed, and the advisers left their residence in a hurry. But it did not help. The land of the rising sun broke off diplomatic relations with Russia, and the notorious “little victorious war” soon began.


Bezobrav’s involvement in the war with Japan can be discussed for a long time. It is clear that the Land of the Rising Sun even before its adventurous venture had plans for the Russian Empire. Therefore, to avoid war in any case would not work. More precisely, bloodshed might have been avoided, but for this, Nikolay would have had to abandon his claims to a number of important territories from both economic and strategic points of view.

Events proved that the Russian Empire was absolutely not ready for war in the Far East, especially with such a strong opponent. Whether it understood Bezobraz or not - the exact answer is not to get. Many researchers agree that Alexander Mikhailovich (as well as his associates), with this idea, pursued only one goal - to get rich at the expense of the state treasury and the infusion of wealthy sponsors. Simply put, Bezobrazov turned a virtuoso fraud, playing on the thin strings of the sovereign's soul. After all, it is known for certain that the “Bezobrazovsky project” “devoured” millions of rubles. They simply disappeared, casting a shadow on the reputation of Nicholas II.

Of course, the failure of Russia reflected on Bezobrazov himself. The star of his political career went out. All members of the “clique” suffered the same fate. That's just no trial, even if formal, was not followed. Too many high ranking reputations could have been stained if details would have surfaced. The powers that be could not allow this to happen. One way or another, but Alexander Mikhailovich "chatter" in Russia until the revolution. And then he moved to France. He met his death at the age of seventy-eight at the Russian Old House, located in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. It happened on October 9th, 1931. They buried Bezobrav at the local cemetery.
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  1. Olgovich
    Olgovich 13 May 2018 07: 36
    Power in the Far East is dreams Nicholas II, which he tried to turn into reality.

    Why "dreams"? The author can look at the map and make sure that the Far East belongs to Russia.
    And this is the greatest merit of the Emperor, who built the Trans-Siberian Railway and under which the population of Primorye grew FIVE times! About this author, not a word. But without the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Far East would simply have gone over to Japan and China, with virtually no war, there would be no one to fight.
    The author Only about the "adventure" in Korea.

    There would be no such "adventures", Russia would remain within the Moscow principality. Something turned out, something not, but Russia is the largest country in the world. So it worked out more!
    There was shortly before that, another "fighter" with "adventures" - the chairman of the Amur Commission State Chancellor Nesselrode, who proposed and insisted on the cessation of an unnecessary adventure on the expenditure of funds and forces for the development of the Amur region and transfer of unnecessary land to China..
    Thank God, they didn’t listen to others ...
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 13 May 2018 10: 35
      Olgovich, in part I agree: 1) The Trans-Siberian Railway has done a lot for the development of the Far East, but strictly speaking: Nikolai 2 is not the author of the Trans-Siberian Railway. He only continued what his father started, and in fact, Nikolai 1 began to introduce railways in Russia, and this was on the site.
      2) I completely agree with the assessment of Neselrode
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 13 May 2018 11: 28
        Quote: Monarchist
        : 1) The Trans-Siberian Railway has done a lot for the development of the Far East, but strictly speaking: Nikolay 2 is not the author of the Trans-Siberian Railway. is he only continued by father

        He “only” BUILT it. Moreover, it’s from a wheelbarrow of land that he personally laid in the body of the embankment of the road near Vladivostok, and construction began (he was still a prince).
        He laid the FIRST stone in the foundation of the Vladivostok railway station, about which there was a corresponding plate.
        The emperor insisted on continuous funding for the construction, and the amount was gigantic for those times ....
  2. mark1
    mark1 13 May 2018 07: 56
    The capture of Korea overnight turned into a stone, which pulls the drowned man to the bottom. In a panic, Nikolai ordered everything to be abandoned and the soldiers withdrawn. And soon once the Russian concession became Japanese. A Russian-Korean bank was closed in Korea itself, and the advisers left their residence in a hurry. But it did not help. The land of the rising sun broke diplomatic relations with Russia and the infamous “small victorious war” soon began.

    The cowardice and indecision of the tsar led Russia to a war with Japan, because when they saw who they were dealing with, the Japanese completely lost all fear
    If a country, choosing between war and shame, chooses shame, it receives both war and shame. ... (W. Churchill)

    And today it is more than relevant for our country.
  3. Bouncer
    Bouncer 13 May 2018 08: 50
    Alexander Mikhailovich without hesitation and fear stated that it was imperative to resist the expansionist policy of Japan

    It's right. The future of Russia is in the East. Far.
    The discerning people saw this already.
  4. Monarchist
    Monarchist 13 May 2018 10: 43
    Quote: mark1
    The capture of Korea overnight turned into a stone, which pulls the drowned man to the bottom. In a panic, Nikolai ordered everything to be abandoned and the soldiers withdrawn. And soon once the Russian concession became Japanese. A Russian-Korean bank was closed in Korea itself, and the advisers left their residence in a hurry. But it did not help. The land of the rising sun broke diplomatic relations with Russia and the infamous “small victorious war” soon began.

    The cowardice and indecision of the tsar led Russia to a war with Japan, because when they saw who they were dealing with, the Japanese completely lost all fear
    If a country, choosing between war and shame, chooses shame, it receives both war and shame. ... (W. Churchill)

    And today it is more than relevant for our country.

    So, in order to avoid shame, you must start a war? This works if you win: “winners are not judged,” and if the opposite is true, “woe to the vanquished”
  5. Monarchist
    Monarchist 13 May 2018 11: 20
    A. M. Outrages is clearly not a single person: as a cavalryman he developed: a "self-propelled mine" that is a torpedo, and this indicates that he is a technically gifted person.
    “The sovereign penetrated and sided with Alexander Mikhailovich” Nicholas 2 can be understood: he saw how England creates its outposts, and the “British concessions” are also the most military bases. Nikolai reasoned something like this: the British create their own bases to protect their own interests and least of all bother with morality, and if they can, then why not try it? Enemy is better to restrain over long distances.
    1. Aviator_
      Aviator_ 13 May 2018 22: 22
      [/ quote] Being a cavalryman he developed: "self-propelled mine" ie a torpedo, and this indicates that he is a technically gifted person. [quote]

      This only indicates that he is an illiterate adventurer. At that time there were torpedoes of Whitehead and Aleksandrov, but Bezobrazov did not care what to do, if only the money went.
  6. Gopnik
    Gopnik 14 May 2018 12: 04
    God be with her, with Korea, but because of the revolutions and revolutionaries did not keep Manchuria with the Russian city of Harbin - it’s a pity.
  7. andrew42
    andrew42 21 May 2018 11: 13
    "Such an old man is strange. And his cap is .. taka, mmm .. strange." But seriously, I did not understand why the article has such a revealing background. One thing is the expansion of Russia in the Far East. Another thing is unpreparedness for war, primarily in logistics. Military plants had to be urgently built in Primorye, a shipyard in Vladik. Japan would have climbed Russia anyway, for this the Britons and Americans pumped up money, and not to share the Chinese pie pr with open jap and the "open door policy" (which, ideally, are open only to Britain). We can say that Bezobrazov did his job, but the “responsible for the military-industrial complex” of the Empire — they sat in warm places and yawned.