Alexander the Third

Personal Profile

Alexander III (r. 1881–1894) initiated a period of political counterreform. He strengthened the security police, reorganizing it into an agency known as the Okhrana, gave it extraordinary powers, and placed it under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Dmitriy Tolstoy, Alexander's minister of internal affairs, instituted the use of land captains, who were noble overseers of districts, and he restricted the power of the zemstvos and the dumas. Alexander III assigned his former tutor, conservative Konstantin Pobedonostsev, to be the procurator of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church and Ivan Delyanov to be the minister of education.s

Alexander III put the most rigid economy into practice. The civil list of the Imperial family was reduced, and estimates for the army, navy and civil service were cut down considerably. This allowed the introduction of a series of financial reforms which tended to ameliorate the condition of the peasantry: the poll tax was abolished in 1886, a law was passed to accelerate legal transfer of the land allotted to the peasants in 1861, the payments due from them for this land were greatly reduced, Crown lands were made available for leasing or purchase to the peasants on advantageous terms, and great stretches of Crown lands in Eastern Russia and Siberia were opened for peasant emigration and resettlement.

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