Aleksandr Vasil’evich Krivoshein Edit Profile
Alexander Krivoshein received his education as an attorney at St. Petersburg University, and entered government service in 1884.
During the next twelve years, he served in both the ministry of justice and the ministry of the interior. In 1896 Krivoshein advanced to become assistant director of the Interior Ministry's department of peasant colonization; in 1904 he took over as director. During the revolution of 1905 and its aftermath the astute agricultural expert emerged as a spokesman for land reform. Encouraging peasants to leave their traditional communes to stand as independent proprietors, Krivoshein found his ideas adopted and implemented by Petr Stolypin, Russia's premier, 1906-1911.
In 1908 Krivoshein was made minister of agriculture. He stood apart from the backwardlooking ranks of ministers who usually served Tsar Nicholas II after 1905. Reaching out to local governing bodies, establishing cordial contacts with Duma deputies, he was a domestic diplomat among political leaders who preferred the bludgeon. In a widely noted speech of July 1913, Krivoshein called for building bridges between the nation's aloof government and Russian society. To a sympathetic contemporary like Vladimir Gurko, a fellow agrarian reformer, Krivoshein was more than just a fine administrator; he was a leader with "a power of thought worthy of a real statesman."
World War I brought Krivoshein an expanded influence in national affairs. Under the weak hand of Premier Ivan Goremykin, the tsar's ministers struggled among themselves in an effort to shape government policy in wildly differing ways. Krivoshein and Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov called for the Duma to play a continuing role in Russian political life, even in wartime circumstances. Such moderates managed to restrain the schemes of Interior Minister Nikolai Maklakov for reducing Russia's infant parliamentary body to a ceremonial role. Thus Maklakov could only try in vain to get the tsar to dismiss the Duma until November 1915, by which time, it was thought, the war would be long past. Krivoshein's moves were doubtless influenced by his hopes of becoming premier himself, with the aid of a friendly body of supporters in the Duma.
Krivoshein's ambitions advanced after the military disasters of 1915 in which a German-Austrian offensive snatched all of Poland from Russian control. Krivoshein and his colleagues pushed from office cabinet reactionaries like Maklakov, although Goremykin, supported by Empress Alexandra, managed to weather the assault. Krivoshein unsuccessfully urged a full reorganization of the war effort: a Supreme War Council would run the nation's affairs, with Krivoshein taking charge of civil government and the highly regarded war minister, General Aleksei Polivanov, directing the military effort.
But events slid in another direction. The tsar chose, in August 1915, to take direct command of the armies in the field, thereby uniting in himself civil and military leadership. Krivoshein joined the majority of the cabinet in protesting this move; but he found the tsar, staunchly backed by Goremykin, to be beyond such arguments. Krivoshein's hopes to become premier then evaporated. In the heat of the monarch's resentment at the brief cabinet rebellion, Nicholas launched a purge; Krivoshein was one of the first to lose his portfolio. The government went on to stagnate under Goremykin.
Even in the fall of 1915 events may have outpaced Krivoshein's hopes for an effective wartime government backed by the goodwill of the Duma. Krivoshein, a monarchist, did not envision a Britishstyle government supported by a formal legislative majority. As tempers rose in the Duma, such mildly enlightened monarchism was rapidly losing its appeal. Tsar Nicholas was, true to form, the last to understand this. On March 14, 1917, with the monarchy reduced to rubble and the provisional government about to take shape, Nicholas entertained visions of calming the situation by calling Krivoshein back to become his premier.
The former agricultural minister supported the White side in the emerging civil war, becoming a leader in Baron Wrangel's anti-Bolshevik government in the south of Russia in 1920. With the collapse of this last White effort, Krivoshein emigrated to France where he died in 1921.
His son, Igor A. Krivoshein, was an engineer and high-ranking Freemason in France.
- Igor Krivoshein