Nikolai Alekseevich Maklakov Edit Profile
He graduated from Moscow University and entered the state treasury bureaucracy in 1892.
Twenty years later, he rose to the uppermost rung of the ladder for the tsar's functionaries, becoming acting minister of the interior in December 1912 and taking formal control of the ministry in early 1913. His predecessor had failed to meet the expectations of Tsar Nicholas II in the crucial areas of muzzling the Russian press and manipulating elections to the Fourth Duma in 1912. More was expected of Maklakov, a convinced monarchist who saw the Duma merely as a troublesome and ambitious set of political meddlers with no independent authority. His ministry had, by tradition, been the most important of the monarch's political instruments. Maklakov promised a strong hand, and his views were compatible with and sometimes even more extreme than those of the tsar.
The outbreak of World War I made Maklakov, for nearly a year, one of the weighty figures in the council of ministers. Under the aged, reactionary premier, Ivan Goremykin, Maklakov had a clear field of action. After it had met for a single day, he urged that the Duma be prorogued until late 1915. He expected the war to be over by then. He instituted close surveillance over the country's fledgling political parties; he saw the Western-style Kadets (Constitutional Democrats) as particularly dangerous in an era marked by a diplomatic alliance with Britain and France. He threw his considerable authority against efforts by Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov to win the loyalty of Russia's Polish population by pledging to reconstitute a unified Polish state under the tsar's authority at the war's end.
Maklakov quickly became the most visible of the reactionary ministers who dominated the cabinet for most of the first year of hostilities. In reality, he was less than victorious. Tsar Nicholas prorogued the Duma, but only until early 1915. Russia's political representatives (the five Bolshevik deputies in the Duma were the most noisy exceptions) supported the war effort. Maklakov's hopes of provoking a premature demand for power from Duma leaders, to be followed by a harsh crackdown on all Duma pretentions, did not reach fruition. On the other hand, his insistence that the government's Polish policy aim at "serving the interests of Russia ex-clusively" forestalled Sazonov's hopes of quickly winning over the Poles. The interior minister mobilized his powers as Russia's censor to see to it the issue got no public exposure in the nation's press. Hopes for a broadly based war effort, employing rural and urban zemstvos ("local government bodies") bogged down in the face of Maklakov's fierce opposition.
Maklakov and most of the other leading reactionaries departed the cabinet, however, in the spring and early summer of 1915. Maklakov himself had been partly immobilized by illness in 1915. But more important, military catastrophe in Poland cut away at the credibility of the cabinet; the group's liberal faction, led by Minister of Agriculture Krivoshein, temporarily enjoyed the tsar's attention, if not his affection.
In January 1917, Maklakov seemed on the road back to power. His new assignment was to gerrymander districts and otherwise to manipulate forthcoming elections to the Fifth Duma in order to insure a conservative majority; the March Revolution made this just a paper exercise. Maklakov never regained office, and, predictably enough, the Bolsheviks shot him in 1918. His brother, Vasily Alekseevich Maklakov, a conservative Kadet and ranking official in the provisional government with whom Nikolai Alekseevich is sometimes confused, was more fortunate. He left Russia in 1917 and lived on in exile tc die peacefully in 1957.