Pavel Milyukov

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Pavel Milyukov c. 1917

Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov (Russian: Па́вел Никола́евич Милюко́в; 27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1859 – 31 March 1943) was a Russian historian and liberal politician. His name is sometimes rendered in English as Paul Miliukov or Paul Milukoff.[1] Milyukov was the founder, leader, and the most prominent member of the Constitutional Democratic party (known as the Kadets). In the Russian Provisional Government, Milyukov was in charge of the foreign policy and tried hard to prevent Russia's exit from the First World War.

Pre-revolutionary career

Pavel was born in Moscow in the middle-class family of a professor in architecture who taught at the school of arts.[2] Milyukov studied history and philology at the Moscow University, where he was influenced by Herbert Spencer, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx. His teachers were Vasily Klyuchevsky and Paul Vinogradoff. In Summer 1877 he briefly took part in Russo-Turkish War as a militairy logistic, but returned to the university. He was expelled for taking part in student riots, went to Italy, but was readmitted and allowed to take his degree. He specialized in the study of Russian history and in 1885 received the degree for a work on the State Economics of Russia in the First Quarter of the 18th Century and the reforms of Peter the Great.[3]

In 1890 he became a member of the Moscow Society of Russian History and Antiquities. He gave private lectures with great success at a training institute for girl teachers [4] and in 1895 he was appointed at the university. These lectures were afterwards expanded by him in his book Outlines of Russian Culture (3 vols., 1896–1903, translated into several languages). He started an association for “home university reading,” and, as its first president, edited the first volume of its programm, which was widely read in Russian intellectual circles. As a student Milyukov was influenced by the liberal ideas of Konstantin Kavelin and Boris Chicherin. His liberal opinions brought him into conflict with the educational authorities, and he was dismissed in 1894 after one of the ever-recurrent university “riots.” He was imprisoned for two years in Riazan as a political agitator, but contributed as an archaeologist.[3]

When released from jail, Milyukov went to Bulgaria, and was appointed professor in the University of Sofia, where he lectured in Bulgarian[citation needed] in the philosophy of history, etc. He was sent (or dismissed under Russian pressure) to Macedonia, part of the Ottoman Empire. There he worked in an archaeological site. In 1899 he was allowed to return to St Petersburg. In 1901 he was arrested again for taking part in a commemoration of the populist writer Peter Lavrov. (The last volume of Outlines of Russian Culture was actually finished in jail, where he spent six months for his political speech.) In 1901, according Milyukov, about 16.000 people were exiled from the capital. The following by-law, published in 1902 by the governor of Bessarabia is typical:

Forbidden are all gatherings, meetings, and assemblies on streets, market-places, and other public places, whatever aim they may have. All meetings in private houses for the aim of discussing the statues of associations for which the permission of the government is necessary are permitted only with the knowledge and approval of the police, who have to give permission for each gathering separately, on an appointed day and in and appointed place.[5]

He contributed under a pseudonym to the clandestine journal Liberation, founded by Peter Berngardovich Struve, published in Stuttgart in 1902. The government again gave him the choice of exile for three years or jail for six months, Milyukov chose the Kresty Prison?[6] After an interview with Plehve, whom he regarded as "the symbol of the Russia he hated", Milyukov was released.

In 1903 he delivered courses of lectures in the United States  at summer sessions in University of Chicago and for the Lowell Institute lectures in Boston.[3] He visited London, and attended the Paris Conference 1904, organized by the Finish dissident Konni Zilliacus (senior). Milyukov returned to Russia during the Russian Revolution of 1905, according to Orlando Figes in many ways a foretaste of the conflicts of 1917.[7] He founded the Constitutional Democratic party, a party of professors, academics, lawyers, writers, journalists, teachers, doctors, officials and liberal zemstvo men.[8] As a journalist for „Swobodny narod“ („Free People“) and „Narodnaja swoboda“ (People's Freedom) or as a former political prisoner Milyukov was not allowed to represent the Kadets in the first and second Duma. In 1906 the Duma was dissolved and its members moved to Vyborg in Finland. Milyukov drafted the Vyborg Manifesto, calling for political freedom, reforms and passive resistance to the governmental policy.

Dmitri Feodorovich Trepov suggested Goremykin ought to step down and promoted a cabinet with only Kadets, which in his opinion would soon enter into a violent conflict with the Tsar and fail. He secretly met with Milyukov. Trepov opposed Stolypin, who promoted a coalition cabinet.[9]

The Kadets gave up the idea of founding a republic and promoting a constitutional monarchy. Georgy Lvov and Alexander Guchkov tried to convince the tsar to accept liberals in the new government. In 1907 Milyukov was elected in the Third Duma; at some time he joined the board of the party Rech (newspaper).


Former members of the First Duma in Kresty prison before serving a three-month sentence. Summer 1908

In January 1908 Milykov addressed the "The Civic Forum" in Carnegie Hall.[10] From the very beginning, the slogan and the idea of the empire ruled by Russians were very controversial regarding what “Russians” meant. One of the outspoken critics of the notion, Pavel Milyukov, considered the “Russia for Russians” slogan to have been “a slogan of disunity… [and] not creative but destructive.”[11] In 1909, Milyukov addressed the Russian State Duma on the issue of using Ukrainian in the court system, attacking Russian nationalist deputies: “You say “Russia for Russians,” but whom do you mean by “Russian”? You should say “Russia only for the Great Russians,” because that which you do not give to Muslims and Jews you also do not give your own nearest kin – Ukraine.”[12]

In 1912 he was reelected in the Fourth Duma. According to Milyukov, in May 1914 Rasputin had become an influential factor in Russian politics.[13] With the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, Milyukov swung to the right, but a coup to remove the Tsar belonged to the possibilities. He had become a nationalist, patriotic policies of national defense, relying on social chauvinism. He insisted his younger son volunteer for the army (who subsequently died in battle). In August 1915 he formed the Progressive Bloc and became the leader. Milyukov was regarded as a staunch supporter of the conquest of Constantinopel. His opponents mockingly called him "Milyukov of Dardanelles". In Summer 1916, at the request of Rodzianko, Protopopov led a delegation of Duma members (with Milyukov) to strengthen the ties with Russia's western allies in World War I: the (Entente powers).[14] In August he gave lectures in Oxford. On 1 November 1916 he sharply criticized the Stürmer government for its inefficiency in a populist speech.

"Stupidity or treason" speech

Pavel Milyukov succeeded in firing the engines of radical protest in the country. Such was not his intention.[15]

At Progressive Bloc meetings near the end of October, Progressives and left-Kadets argued that the revolutionary public mood could no longer be ignored and that the Duma should attack the entire tsarist system or lose whatever influence it had. Nationalists feared that a concerted stand against the government would jeopardize the existence of the Duma and further inflame the revolutionary feelings. Miliukov argued for and secured a tenuous adherence to a middle-ground tactic, attacking Boris Stürmer and forcing his replacement.

According to Stockdale he had trouble gaining the support of his own party; at the 22–24 October Kadet fall conference provincial delegates "lashed out at Miliukov with unaccustomed ferocity. His travels abroad had made him poorly informed about the public mood, they charged; the patience of the people was exhausted." He responded with a plea to keep their ultimate goal in mind:

It will be our task not to destroy the government, which would only aid anarchy, but to instill in it a completely different content, that is, to build a genuine constitutional order. That is why, in our struggle with the government, despite everything, we must retain a sense of proportion.... To support anarchy in the name of the struggle with the government would be to risk all the political conquests we have made since 1905.

The day before the opening of the Duma, the Progressist party pulled out of the bloc because they believed the situation called for more than a mere denunciation of Stürmer.

On 1 November (O.S.) the government under the pro peace Boris Stürmer [16] was attacked in the Imperial Duma, not gathering since February. Alexander Kerensky spoke first, called the ministers "hired assassins" and "cowards" and said they were "guided by the contemptible Grishka [or Grigori] Rasputin!"[17] The acting president Rodzianko ordered him to leave, when calling for the overthrow of the government in wartime.[18] Miliukov's speech was more than three times longer than Kerensky's, and delivered using much more moderate language.

In his speech "Rasputin and Rasputuiza" he spoke of "treachery and betrayal, about the dark forces, fighting in favor of Germany".[19] He highlighted numerous governmental failures, including the case Sukhomlinov, concluding that Stürmer's policies placed in jeopardy the Triple Entente. After each accusation – many times without basis – he asked "Is this stupidity or is it treason?" and the listeners answered "stupidity!", "treason!", etc. (Milyukov stated that it did not matter "Choose any ... as the consequences are the same.") Stürmer walked out, followed by all his ministers.[20] Or is it: At the start of the session government ministers, forewarned by an informant within the bloc of the attack to come, left the chamber?[21]

He began by outlining how public hope had been lost over the course of the war, saying: "we have lost faith that the government can lead us to victory." He mentioned the rumours of treason and then proceeded to discuss some of the allegations: that Stürmer had freed Suchomlinov, that there was a great deal of pro-German propaganda, that he had been told that the enemy had access to Russian state secrets in his visits to allied countries, and that Stürmer's private secretary [Ivan Manuilov-Manasevich] had been arrested for taking German bribes but was released when he kicked back to Stürmer.

Milyukov was taken immediately by Sir George Buchanan to the British Embassy and lived there till the February Revolution;[22] (according to Stockdale he went to the Crimea). It is not known what they discussed, but his speech was spread in flyers on the front and at the Hinterland. Stürmer and Protopopov asked in vain for the dissolution of the Duma.[23] Tsarina Alexandra suggested to her husband to expel Alexander Guchkov and Prince Lvov Milyukov and Alexei Polivanov to Siberia.[24]

According to Melissa Kirschke Stockdale in Paul Miliukov and the Quest for a Liberal Russia, it was a "volatile combination of revolutionary passions, escalating apprehension, and the near breakdown of unity in the moderate camp that provided the impetus for the most notorious address in the history of the Duma..." The speech was a milestone on the road to Rasputin's murder and the February Revolution. Stockdale also points out that Miliukov admitted to some reservations about his evidence in his memoirs, where he observed that his listeners resolutely answered treason "even in those aspects where I myself was not entirely sure."

Richard Abraham, in his biography of Kerensky argues that the withdrawal of the Progressists was essentially a vote of no confidence in Miliukov and that he grasped at the idea of accusing Stürmer in an effort to preserve his own influence.[citation needed]

February Revolution and its aftermath

Members of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma (Russian Empire) in 1917
The Russian Provisional Government

During the February Revolution Milyukov hoped to retain the constitutional monarchy in Russia. He became a member of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma on 27 February 1917. Milyukov wanted the monarchy retained, albeit with Alexei as Tsar and the Grand Duke Michael acting as Regent. When Michael awoke on 2 March (O.S.), he discovered not only that his brother had abdicated in his favour, as Nicholas had not informed him previously, but also that a delegation from the Duma would visit him ... in a few hours time.[25] The meeting with Duma President Rodzianko, Prince Lvov, and other ministers, including Milyukov and Kerensky, lasted all morning.[26] The masses would not tolerate a new Tsar and the Duma could not guarantee Michael's safety, Michael decided to decline the throne.[27] On 6 March 1917 David Lloyd George gave a cautious welcome to the suggestion of Milyukov that the toppled Tsar and his family be given sanctuary in Britain (although Lloyd George would have preferred that they go to a neutral country).

Rodzianko remained prime minister just for a few days. He succeeded in publishing an order for the immediate return of the soldiers to their barracks and subordinate to their officers.[28] To them Rodzianko was totally unacceptable as prime minister and Prince Lvov, less impopular, became his successor. In the first Provisional government Miliukov became Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Miliukov sent the British an official request that revolutionary Leon Trotsky be released from Amherst Internment Camp in Nova Scotia, after the British had boarded a steamer in Halifax harbour in order to arrest Trotsky and other "dangerous socialists" who were en route to Russia from New York. Upon receiving Milykov's request the British freed Trotsky who then continued his journey to Russia and became a key planner and leader of the Bolshevik Revolution that overthrew the provisional government.[29]

He staunchly opposed popular demands for peace at any cost and firmly clung to Russia's wartime alliances. As the Britannica 2004 put it, "he was too inflexible to succeed in practical politics". On 20 April 1917 the government sent a note to Britain and France (which became known as Milyukov's Note) proclaiming that Russia would fulfill its obligation towards the Allies and wage the war as long as it was necessary.[30] On the same day "thousands of armed workers and soldiers came out to demonstrate on the street of Petrograd. Many of them carried banners with slogans calling for the removal of the "ten bourgeois ministers', for an end to the war and for the appointment of a new revolutionary government.[31] The next day the Miliukov Note was condemned by the ministers. This resolved the immediate crisis.[32] On 29 April the minister of war Alexander Guchkov resigned, Milyukov's resignation followed on 2 or 4 May. Milyukov was offered a post as Secretary of Education, but refused; he stayed on as the Kadet leader and began to flirt with counter revolutionary ideas.[33]

Kornilov Affair

In the mass discontent following the July Days, mainly about Ukrainian autonomy, the Russian populace grew highly sceptical of the Provisional Government's abilities to alleviate the economic distress and social resentment among the lower classes; the word 'provisional' did not command respect.[34] The crowd tired of war and hunger demanded a "peace without annexations or contributions". Milyukov described the situation in Russia in late July as, "Chaos in the army, chaos in foreign policy, chaos in industry and chaos in the nationalist questions".[35] Lavr Kornilov, appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army in July 1917, considered the Petrograd Soviet responsible for the breakdown in the military in recent times, and believed that the Russian Provisional Government lacked the power and confidence to dissolve the Petrograd Soviet. Following several ambiguous correspondences between Kornilov and Alexander Kerensky, Kornilov commanded an assault on the Petrograd Soviet.[35]

Because the Petrograd Soviet was able to quickly gather a powerful army of workers and soldiers in defence of the Revolution, Kornilov's coup was an abysmal failure and he was placed under arrest. The Kornilov Affair resulted in significantly increased distrust among Russians towards the Provisional Government.[36]


Pavel Milyukov c. 1929

On 26 October 1917 the party's newspapers were shut down by the new Soviet regime. On 25 November 1917 Milyukov he was elected in the Russian Constituent Assembly, the first truly free election in Russian history, but moved from Petrograd to the Don Host Oblast. Instead he became a member of the Don civil council. He advised Mikhail Alekseyev of the Volunteer Army. Milyukov and Struve defended a Great Russia as firmly as the most reactionary monarchist.[37] In May 1918 he went to Kiev, where he negotiated with the German high command to act together against the Bolsheviks. For many members of the Cadet Party this went too far: Milyukov was forced to resign the presidency of the KDP Central Committee. On 28 November the party was banned by the Soviet regime, and went underground. Milyukov went to Turkey and from there - to Western Europe, to get support from the allies of the White movement, involved in the Russian Civil War. In April 1921 he emigrated to France, where he remained active in politics and edited the Russian-language newspaper Latest News (1920–1940). In June 1921 he left the Constitutional Democrats. During a performance in the Berliner Philharmonie on 28 March 1922, his friend Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, the father of the novelist Vladimir Nabokov, was killed while shielding Milyukov from his attackers. In 1934, Milyukov was a witness at the Berne Trial.

Although he remained an opponent of the communist regime, Milyukov supported Stalin's foreign policy.[38] To protect the city of Leningrad he commented on the Winter War as follows: “I feel pity for the Finns, but I am for the Vyborg guberniya”.[39]

Milyukov died in Aix-les-Bains in France. At some time, between 1945 and 1954, the corpse was reburried at Batignolles Cemetery, in the carré russe-orthodoxe, division 25, next to his wife, Anna Sergeievna.



  1. RUSSIA STRONGER WITH FREEDOM. New York Times. 20 April 1917.
  2. Milyukov claimed in his autobiography to be a nobleman from the House of Milukoff.[citation needed]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPaul Vinogradoff (1922). [ "Milyukov, Paul Nikolayevich" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. P.N. Milyukov (1905) Russia and its crisis, p. 150
  6. O. Figes (1996), p. 204
  7. O. Figes (1996), p. 195
  8. 1905: The Liberation Union (Soyuz Osvobozhdeniya) merged with the Union of Zemstvo-Constitutionalists (Soyuz Zemstev-Konstitutsionistov) to form the liberal Constitutional Democratic Party (Konstitutsiono-Demokraticheskaya Partya), formally known as the Party of Popular Freedom (Partiya Narodnoy Svobody), led by Pavel Milyukov.
  9. Recollections Of A Foreign Minister (1921)
  10. Constitutional government for Russia; an address delivered before the Civic forum ... New York city, January 14, 1908
  11. Kirschke, Melissa (1996), Paul Miliukov and the quest for a liberal Russia, 1880-1918, p. 189. Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-3248-0.
  12. Plokhy, Serhii (2005), Unmaking Imperial Russia: Mykhailo Hrushevsky and the Writing of Ukrainian History, pp. 462-3, n. 64. University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-3937-5.
  13. Antrick Otto (1938). Rasputin und die politischen Hintergründe seiner Ermordung. E. Hunold, Braunschweig, p. 37.
  14. "Maurice Paléologue. An Ambassador's Memoirs. 1925. Vol. III, Chapter II". Retrieved 11 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Figes (1997) A People's Tragedy, p. 287.
  16. Thirteen Years at the Russian Court – Chapter Thirteen – Tsar at the Duma – Galacia – Life at G.Q.H. – Growing Disaffection. (15 March 1921). Retrieved on 4 March 2016.
  17. The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 16 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky
  18. The Russian Provisional Government, 1917: Documents, Volume 1, p. 16 by Robert Paul Browder, Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky
  20. Frank Alfred Golder (1927) Documents of Russian History 1914–1917. Read Books. ISBN 1443730297.
  21. Главная » Книги » Пайпс Ричард » The Russian Revolution » Страница 99
  22. Der Zar, Rasputin und die Juden, p. 41
  23. Pares, Bernard (1939). The Fall of the Russian Monarchy. A Study of the Evidence. Jonathan Cape. London, p. 392.
  24. Pares, p. 398.
  25. Crawford and Crawford, pp. 297–300
  26. Crawford and Crawford, pp. 302–307
  27. O. Figes (1996), p. 344-345
  28. History of the Russian Revolution. By Leon Trotsky, Max Eastman
  29. "Trotsky's tactical ruthlessness may have won the Bolsheviks Russia. But he almost missed the uprising in a Canadian jail". National Post. 12 July 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. der Provisorischen Regierung an dieRegierungen der alliierten Mächte ["Miljukov-Note"], 18. April (1. Mai) 1917
  31. Orlando Figes, p. 381
  32. Orlando Figes, p. 383
  33. Orlando Figes, p. 443
  34. Orlando Figes, p. 360
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Kornilov Affair". Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "The Petrograd Soviet and the Kornilov affair, Revolution, The Russian Revolution, SOSE: History Year 9, NSW | Online Education Home Schooling Skwirk Australia". 26 March 1999. Retrieved 30 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Orlando Figes, p. 571
  38. Vail', Boris Borisovich (2010) Милюков и Сахаров, p. 12 in: Мыслящие миры российского либерализма: Павел Милюков (1859—1943). International Conference. Moscow, 23—25 September 2009. p. 12.
  39. Н. Вакар. Милюков в изгнанье // Новый журнал. 1943. Вып. 6. С. 377
  40. Wikisource


  • Melissa Kirschke Stockdale. Paul Miliukov and the Quest for a Liberal Russia, 1880–1918, Cornell University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8014-3248-0, 379pp.
  • Thomas Riha. A Russian European: Paul Miliukov in Russian Politics, University of Notre Dame Press, 1969, ISBN 1-121-78859-9, 373pp.
  • Макушин А. В., Трибунский П. А. Павел Николаевич Милюков: труды и дни (1859–1904). — Рязань, 2001. — 439 с. — (Новейшая российская история. Исследования и документы. Том 1.). — ISBN 5-94473-001-3

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Nikolai Pokrovsky
Foreign Minister of Russia
2 March till 2 May 1917
Succeeded by
Mikhail Tereshchenko