135 years ago, 1 (13) in March 1881, the revolutionary revolutionists killed the people killed Tsar Alexander II Nikolayevich, tearing him up with bombs on the Catherine Canal embankment in St. Petersburg. With the Tsar Liberator dealt with the most brutal way. This murder was significant: the successful attempt on the tsar was the natural end of the period of liberalism in the Russian Empire and flirting with liberal circles. The heir to the throne, Alexander III, the Peacemaker was able to crush the revolutionary infection and temporarily stabilize the situation in the empire.
It should also be said that the martyr end of Emperor Alexander II became the forerunner of the terrible death of his grandson Nicholas II Alexandrovich with the whole family, the tragic suppression of the 300-year reign of the House of Romanov. This phenomenon, which, with all clarity and pain, showed F. Dostoevsky with the novel “Demons”, written after the first attempts on the life of the Russian tsar and ten years before the nightmarish last, successful, attempt, the seventh in a row. Alexander's death was a terrible warning to Alexander III and Nicholas II. They were supposed to hold the Russian Empire "along the razor's edge", to bring it to a new level. Alexander the Peacemaker was able to keep Russia on the brink of disaster, but died prematurely. His successor could not hold back a civilizational disaster.
Alexander was the eldest son of the first Grand Duke, and from 1825, the imperial couple Nikolai Pavlovich and Alexandra Feodorovna (daughter of the Prussian monarch Friedrich-Wilhelm III). Alexander Nikolaevich received a good education. V. Zhukovsky was his mentor, who led the process of upbringing and education, and the teacher of the Russian language. Among the teachers were theologian, archpriest G. Pavsky, K. I. Arsenyev, M. M. Speransky, EF Kankrin, F. I. Brunov, captain K. K. Merder, and other prominent statesmen and teachers. The identity of the future emperor was influenced by his father, who wanted to be the heir to the military, and at the same time the poet Zhukovsky, who sought to educate an enlightened monarch, a monarch-legislator, who carried out reasonable reforms in the Russian Empire. Both of these trends left a deep imprint on the character of Alexander Nikolaevich. On the one hand, he, like all the Romanovs, was a “militarist”, that is, he loved military affairs, the army, parades, on the other hand, he strove for transformations.
Leading the empire in 1855, Alexander received a difficult legacy. He received instruction from the father who had left his life: “Serve Russia. I wanted to take upon myself everything difficult, all serious, leaving the kingdom peaceful, arranged, happy. Providence judged otherwise. Now I am going to pray for Russia and for you. After Russia, I loved you more than anything else. ”
There was a severe Eastern (Crimean) war, which was a kind of rehearsal of the First World War. The leading world powers came out against Russia and landed an expeditionary army in the Crimea; the empire was internationally isolated. Russia faced tough political issues: the long-lasting and resource-consuming Caucasian War continued; there was a question of the accession of Central Asia; it was necessary to modernize the industry; the peasant question was not resolved, and so on. Alexander Nikolayevich was forced to become the reformer tsar.
In March 1856, the Paris Peace was concluded. The Russian Empire lost some of its positions in the Black Sea region (including the abandonment of the Black Sea fleet) In the same year, Alexander II secretly concluded a “double alliance” with Prussia, breaking through the diplomatic isolation of Russia. At the same time, Alexander Nikolaevich made some concessions in domestic politics: recruitment packages were suspended for 3 years; Decembrists, Petrashevists, participants in the Polish uprising of 1830-1831 received relief. In 1857, military settlements were abolished. A kind of “thaw” began in the socio-political life of Russia.
Tsar Alexander II headed for the abolition of serfdom, and in 1861 he pushed through this decision. Moreover, a milder version of the reform was adopted - it was initially proposed to carry out the “Baltic version”, with the landless liberation of the peasants. True, the reform had many negative sides - the peasants did not receive land. In fact, many peasants were forced to break with the land, the community, to go to the cities and become workers. The capitalist path of development was activated, which led to the parasitism of small groups of people over the masses. With the support of the emperor, territorial and judicial reforms (1864), urban reform (1870), military reforms (1860 — 70's), education reform were carried out. In general, Alexander conducted liberal reforms. Thus, the position of Jewry was alleviated, corporal punishment was abolished, censorship was facilitated, and so on.
During the reign of Alexander Nikolaevich, the Russian Empire won decisive victories in the Caucasian War and completed it. The North Caucasus was pacified. The empire's advance into Central Asia was successfully completed: in 1865 — 1881. Most of Turkestan became part of Russia. In 1870, Russia, which supported Bismarck’s policy and benefited from it, took advantage of Prussia’s victory over France, and was able to mark an article in the Paris Treaty on the neutralization of the Black Sea. Russia won the Russian-Turkish war 1877-1878. Although St. Petersburg, under pressure from the West, had to abandon part of the conquests and Constantinople-Constantinople. In addition, militarily, the campaign was characterized by a mass of mistakes that spoke of a systemic crisis of the Russian army (they were not corrected, and this had a negative impact on the course of the Russian-Japanese war and the world war). The Russian Empire returned the southern part of Bessarabia, lost after the Crimean War, and received the Kars region. Gained independence and began the sovereign existence of Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. However, under pressure from the West, their independence and territories were curtailed, which laid a “powder keg” under the Balkans.
After the victory at Plevna, Alexander began to be honored as the Tsar-Liberator of the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula from the Ottoman yoke. True, Alexander's government made a strategic mistake - in the 1867, the United States sold Alaska, which seriously worsened Russia's position in the Asia-Pacific region. Petersburg buried the works of several generations of Russian explorers, explorers, statesmen who were glad about the expansion of the power and capabilities of the empire. At the same time, the sale of Russian America affected the military-strategic, geopolitical and economic position of Russia throughout the 20th century and still influences Russia.
After the Polish uprising 1863-1864. and the attempts of D. V. Karakozov on the life of the emperor in April 1866, Alexander II began to listen more to supporters of the protective course. Grodno, Minsk and Vilna governors-general appointed a conservative leader M.N. Muravyov, he conducted a series of reforms aimed at the Russification and restoration of the positions of Orthodoxy in the province. Conservatives D. A. Tolstoy, F. F. Trepov, and P. A. Shuvalov were appointed to the highest state posts. Many supporters of reforms, with the exception of a few exceptions, such as Minister of War D. A. Milyutin and Minister of the Interior M. T. Loris-Melikov, were removed from power. However, in general, the course of liberal reform was continued, but more cautiously, sluggishly.
Thus, a project was developed to expand the functions of the State Council and the establishment of the "General Commission" (congress), where it was supposed to introduce representatives from the Zemstvos. As a result, autocracy could be limited in favor of organs with limited representation. In essence, it was the germ of constitutional reform that limited autocracy. The authors of this idea were the Minister of the Interior, M. T. Loris-Melikov, and the Minister of Finance, A. A. Abaza. Emperor Alexander II, shortly before his death, approved the draft, but did not have time to discuss it at the Council of Ministers.
Reforms and relaxation in public life led to the destabilization of the domestic political situation in Russia. In Russia, a revolutionary underground appeared in the person of the People's Volunteers, which strengthened its position and took a course towards the liquidation of the king. According to the conspirators, the death of the emperor was supposed to cause a revolutionary wave in Russia and lead to the fall of the autocracy.
The Hunt for the Emperor
The movement of populists coincided with the liberal reforms of Alexander II. The emperor abolished serfdom and introduced unprecedented freedoms and freedoms in the country before. However, the ideas formulated by the founder of Russian socialism and the first known dissident Alexander Herzen were developed by Russian intellectuals, like N. G. Chernyshevsky, V. G. Belinsky, P. N. Tkachev, M. A. Bakunin, P. A. Kropotkina, were not accepted by the people, remaining in a narrow circle of intellectuals.
Then the revolutionaries decided that the confusion of the revolution could cause the killing of the king. The call to kill the king and take "the axes" "imperial party" appeared already in 1862 year: "We will issue one cry:" The axes! "- and then ... then hit the imperial party, not sparing it, as it does not spare us now, beat in the squares, if this despicable bastard dares to go out on them, hit the houses, beat in the narrow alleys of the cities, beat in the wide streets of the capital cities, hit the villages and villages! Remember that then, who will not be with us, he will be against, who will be against, that is our enemy, and the enemies should be exterminated by all means. " These words were spoken in the proclamation "Young Russia". Its author was Peter Zaichnevsky, a young man from a noble family of the Oryol province.
In the proclamations, Zaichnevsky noted that society in Russia "is entering a revolutionary period of its existence." Society, in his opinion, is quite clearly divided into two groups, whose interests are diametrically opposed, and therefore hostile to each other. The first part is the "oppressed and plundered by all" people. This is the "people's party." The other group consists of “robbers” - officials and landowners, the king and his court, the generals, merchants, “making money for themselves by robbery and deception”, all the haves, all who own property. This is the "imperial party." It is her author who offers the "axes". In fact, he proposes to physically destroy the existing power, the political elite of the empire - the king, the imperial family, the closest aides of the sovereign, the generals, the highest color of the nobility and merchants. This is a blow to the very foundation of the then Russian statehood, a frankly expressed desire to destroy the Russian empire and create a kind of democratic Russian republic. The imperial family causes special hatred - “How the cleansing sacrifice lays down the whole Romanov dynasty house!” Zaichnevsky and his comrades saw only one method of fighting injustice of society with injustice - “revolution”, and “revolution bloody and implacable” that should change all the foundations of the existing system . It’s not for nothing that Dostoevsky called these people "demons", and Turgenev - nihilists. They were going to destroy everything to the ground, and then build something.
Russian statehood turned out to be unprepared that people educated and received a good education in the Russian Empire (often representatives of high society) would treat their homeland with such hatred. Russian society was not yet familiar with the extreme fanaticism and bloodthirstiness of the next fighters “for the happiness of the people”. The state has not yet had to deal with attacks on the king and statesmen. Acts of terror and subversive proclamations shocked the citizens of the empire. The actions of the "People" became the harbinger of a new bloody era.
The personification of the Russian statehood was the autocrat, the emperor, therefore his assassination was the main revolutionaries. The first assassination attempt took place on 4 on April 1866, when Emperor Alexander II was walking in the Summer Garden accompanied by his nephew, Duke Nicholas of Leuchtenberg, and the niece, Princess of Baden. When the king headed for the carriage, an unknown person tried to shoot the king. It was a young man of noble origin, a student of Kazan and Moscow universities Dmitry Karakozov. They prevented him from aiming well, and the peasant Osip Komissarov, who was standing next to him, withdrew the hand of the villain. The people wanted to lynch the intruder right away, but the police saved him.
I must say that this was a new phenomenon in Russia. Russian tsars walked freely, without special precautions. The people respected the sovereigns. There was almost no security, not counting several Cossacks and officers, which was supposed to be according to etiquette. This attempt was a kind of thunder out of the blue in the Russian Empire. The first public attempt to kill the sovereign! 3 (15) September 1866 Karakozov on Smolensk field (Vasilyevsky Island) in St. Petersburg hung.
25 May 1867 in Paris, during the visit of the Russian emperor to France, the second attempt was made. Napoleon III and Alexander II were returning in a wheelchair after a military parade, when a shot rang out. He was unsuccessful due to damage to the gun. The intruder was a Polish gentry and émigré Anton Berezovsky. The motive of the assassination was the desire to avenge the emperor for suppressing the Polish 1863 uprising of the year. A jury sentenced him to life penal servitude in New Caledonia (later it was replaced with life exile).
2 (14) April 1879, in Petersburg, right on Palace Square during the walk, the king noticed a man who was watching him closely. It must be said that, despite the already two attempts and a series of attempts and murders of officials, the sovereign still walked without special precautions. Only at a distance were gendarme officers following him. As a result, the terrorist gets a revolver and freely makes five (!) Shots, Alexander was able to escape. Thank God that the villain shooter was bad. Snatched up was another underestimated student, Alexander Solovyov. He stated that thoughts about the assassination attempt on the tsar had arisen after studying the ideas of the social revolutionaries. 9 June 1879. He was put to death by hanging.
26 August 1879, the executive committee of the “Narodnaya Volya” decided to “execute” the emperor. The terrorists decided to undermine the train that Alexander and his family members were traveling on. They noticed that the most vulnerable place in the security system is the route on which the king traveled annually to rest on the Crimean peninsula and back to the capital. On the way of the movement of the imperial staff, several ambushes were prepared: in Odessa, in case the sovereign sets out from Crimea by sea; on the Simferopol-Moscow railway near the town of Aleksandrovsk; and on the Rogozhsko-Simonovskaya outpost near Moscow. 18 November 1879 of the year near Odessa A. Zhelyabov unsuccessfully connected the wires of an explosive device embedded in a railway embankment. On November 19 near Moscow, the group of S. Perovskoy mistakenly blew up not a royal train from Livadia, but an escort train. The terrorists knew that the first train with retinue and luggage, and the second train - the royal train. However, in Kharkov, due to the malfunctioning of the steam locomotive, the departure of the first train was postponed. The first went the royal train. Terrorists missed the royal train and blew up the Sweets. At that time, Alexander II, as they say, said: “What do they have against me, these unfortunates? Why are they following me like a wild beast? After all, I always tried to do everything in my power, for the good of the people! ”
People did not calm down and began to develop a new attack. Sophia Perovskaya, through her friends, found out that in the Winter Palace, cellars were being renovated, including a wine cellar, which was located directly under the royal dining room. They decided to lay a hellish car. The explosion was to lead to the collapse of the dining room and the death of people there. The implementation of the attack was assigned to the worker Stepan Khalturin. He was hired for carpentry work in the palace and gained access to the basements. At night, he would carry bags of dynamite, masking him among building materials. This case shows what a mess was in the imperial palace. In February 1880, the terrorists received information that on February 5 a gala dinner was scheduled at the Winter Palace, at which the sovereign and all members of the imperial family would be present. The explosion was supposed to happen 6: 20 evenings, when, presumably, the emperor, who strictly followed the daily routine, was already in the dining room. But the case spoiled the terrorists the whole deal. Due to the visit of the Duke Alexander of Hesse, the brother of the emperor's spouse, who was half an hour late, the dinner time was shifted. Khalturin did not know about it. When there was a terrible explosion, the king was located near the guard room near the dining room. He was not injured. However, 11 veteran soldiers, heroes of the Russian-Turkish war, who were credited with guarding the palace for their distinction, were killed, and 56 people were injured.
Despite all these “bells”, only 12 February 1880 of the year was established by the Supreme Administrative Commission to protect the public order and fight against the revolutionary underground. But he was headed by a liberal-minded Count Loris-Melikov, who was unable to take decisive measures to combat the revolutionary contagion. The result of such a negligent attitude towards the mortal danger and activities of the then “fifth column” was obvious and sad.
1 March 1881, the villains have succeeded. On Sunday morning, the sovereign received Interior Minister Loris-Melikov. He approved his constitutional draft and appointed a meeting of the Council of Ministers for March 4. I must say that most ministers endorsed this plan. When March 8 held this meeting, already chaired by Alexander III, the majority of the ministers were in favor, only Stroganov and Pobedonostsev were against (Alexander III accepted their point of view).
Loris-Melikov asked the king not to go on that day to divorce the troops. Such requests have recently been repeated regularly, the emperor almost stopped visiting troops. Alexander was indignant: “I would not want my people to consider me a coward!” The Minister of Internal Affairs did not back down and turned to Princess Yuryevskaya, knowing how much Alexander was subject to female influence. She managed to persuade her husband (after the death of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, Alexander married E. Yuryevskaya). The divorce trip was canceled. But the Grand Duchess Alexandra Iosifovna appeared in the palace. Her youngest son, the nephew of the sovereign, had to appear before him for the first time in that divorce. Alexander makes a fatal decision.
Alexander left the Winter Palace to Manezh, he was accompanied by a rather small guard - there was a Cossack on the box next to the coachman, six more Cossacks followed the coach, and a sleigh with the police chief Dvorzhitsky and three police officers. Having been on the divorce guard and having drunk tea at her cousin, the sovereign goes back to the Winter Palace through the Catherine Canal. And the conspirators were waiting for him on Malaya Sadovaya. The attempt was duplicated: a mine was laid, and there were four terrorist bombers, in case the mine did not work. A variant was even worked out that if the king was not killed by a bomb, Zhelyabov had to jump into the carriage (he was arrested before the assassination) and stab the emperor with a dagger.
Perovskaya urgently changes the plan. Four Narodovoltsa - Grinevitsky, Rysakov, Emelyanov, Mikhailov, occupy positions along the embankment of the Catherine Canal and wait for the signal of Perovskaya (sway of a scarf). When the imperial carriage left the embankment, Sophia signaled, and Rysakov dropped the first bomb. She damaged the carriage, killed a passer-by and two Cossacks. Alexander at the first explosion was not injured. Here the emperor made a fatal mistake, instead of leaving at once, he wished to look at the seized intruder.
Rysakov fought back from the crowded crowd when the king approached and said: “What did you do, you are crazy?” He also asked his name and rank. Rysakov called a tradesman. The police chief ran up, asked if the sovereign was wounded. “Thank God, no,” said Alexander. Rysakov heard it and said evil: “Is it still glory to God?” Nobody understood the hidden meaning of these words. At this time, Grinevitsky threw a bomb. With the explosion, Alexander practically severed both legs, disfigured his face. He managed to whisper: "Take me to the palace ... There I want to die ...". Soon the sovereign died. Tsar Alexander II was buried in St. Petersburg, in the Peter and Paul Cathedral.
The case of regicide was heard in the Special Presence of the Governing Senate 26-29 in March 1881. The defendants were Zhelyabov, Perovskaya, Kibalchich, Mikhailov, Rysakov, Gelfman. The court sentenced all defendants to death. Gelfman, because of her pregnancy, the execution was delayed until the child was born, and then replaced by eternal penal servitude, but she soon died. 3 (15) April 1881, Zhelyabov, Perovskaya, Kibalchich, Mikhailov and Rysakov were hanged on the Semenovsky parade. On each chest was attached a plaque with the inscription "Regicide".
Alexander II Nikolaevich was to some extent himself guilty of his death. No wonder Pobedonostsev said that only pure autocracy can resist the revolution. Alexander shook the Nikolaev empire and did not take appropriate measures to fight the revolutionary underground. Fortunately for Russia, the reins of government after his death were seized by the strong hand of Alexander III, who was able to freeze the decay of the empire. Otherwise, turmoil in Russia could have begun at the end of the XNUMXth century. At the same time, his reign left behind a good memory. At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, when Russian peasants were asked which of historical they remember the leaders, they also called the tsar-liberator.