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This combination of natural and artificial lines formed a defensive perimeter from the Terek to the headwaters of the Ural and guarded the approaches to the core in the Caspian basin. But the lines, known collectively as the Siberian Line, served the additional purpose of creating a state boundary, not by treaty, since the nomads did not recognize linear boundaries, but simply by the decision of military commanders who showed a preference for rivers and, where there was none, simply drew a line across the steppe.

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It was moved downstream in and to its present location in The instruction envisioned a vast program of political and commercial expansion into Central Asia and the building of a logistical base on the edge of the steppe, from which the domestication of the nomad would pave the way for a resumption of military expansion. It also triggered a massive rebellion by the Bashkirs, who well understood that the arrival of soldiers and the building of an Orenburg Line would be followed by an influx of Russian peasants to till the rich land of Bashkiria.

Verkhneuralsk was built on the watershed between the Ural and Ui rivers, where the eastern slope of the southern Urals merges with the great plain of Siberia, to become the logistical base for the garrisons in the region.


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In , a new Iset provintsiia was created, its capital in Chebarkul moved to Cheliabinsk in l , encompassing the valley of the Iset and the Miass as well as the trans-Ural Bashkir lands. Vasilii Urusov, the descendant of a Nogai chieftain. The two Baltic provinces and the left-bank Ukraine retained considerable autonomy. Russia withdrew from Transcaucasia. Elsewhere, the empire was still very much a unitary state, even with the restoration of the Siberian Chancery.

Absolutism and Ruling Class: The Formation of the Russian Political Order, 1700-1825

He was recalled in following a denunciation that he had collected bribes, became president of the Siberian Chancery in , and died in He remained in Tobolsk until From there, he was summoned to Petersburg in September to receive an instruction for the administration of Siberia.

The instruction had been drafted by Pleshcheev and harked back to that given in to the Tobolsk voevoda, Petr Cherkasskii, brother of the future governor. The Senate, which had divided Siberia into two provinces by appointing a vice-governor in Irkutsk in , now insisted on retaining the administrative unity of Siberia under the Tobolsk governor. It merely gave him the usual universal jurisdiction over the levying of recruits for the College of War, the supervision of the collection of the revenue by agencies that were not dependent on him, and the administration of justice.

This request was refused. On the other hand, he obtained the retention of a vice-governor in Tobolsk, so that he could become a kind of governor general of Siberia, with two immediate subordinates, one in Tobolsk, the other in Irkutsk. He was recalled in after the accession of Elizabeth and replaced by the Tobolsk vice-governor, Major General Alexei Sukharev, who would remain in Siberia for over ten years, despite the fact that his name surfaced a number of times in connection with investigations of corruption.

Vasilii Miatlev , former quartermaster ober-intendant of the Baltic fleet, and Privy Councillor Fedor Soimonov Both had made their career in the navy.

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Soimonov had grievously suffered from the knout and the ablation of his nostrils for his involvement in the Volynskii conspiracy of and had been sent to Okhotsk. Miatlev used him to investigate the navigation channel of the Shilka and the Amur in at a time of renewed interest in opening up the Amur to Russian boats seeking a better exit than Okhotsk to the sea of that name and the Pacific. There was continued turbulence in the Kazakh steppe following the assassination of Abul Khair, the khan of the Western Horde, in , and Chinese-Zunghar relations were worsening until the Manchu onslaught of destroyed the khanate and brought Chinese troops into the Kazakh steppe and Central Asia.

Rumors of possible conflict with China were circulating. In , five more regiments of regular troops were sent to western Siberia following Zunghar inroads into Kazakh pastures, and Major General Christian Kindermann assumed command of the Siberian Line, its troops now forming a separate corps with its own commander, who resided in Tobolsk or in Omsk, when he was not on inspection trips along the line. This commander was no longer subordinated to the governor in Tobolsk, but was made his equal in the administrative hierarchy.

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Also in , Irkutsk provintsiia became a regular province guberniia with a governor, Wulf von Frauendorff, who had been vice-governor there since Privy Councillor Ivan Nepliuev succeeded Urusov in His appointment to the distant wilderness of Orenburg was, like that of Soimonov, a form of banishment, but also gave him a chance to make a great name for himself. The provintsiia voevody in Ufa and Cheliabinsk were subordinated to him. Nepliuev encouraged the development of military settlements in Bashkiria and along the Orenburg Line, a policy which became a factor in the outbreak of another Bashkir rebellion in The fact that Nepliuev resided in Orenburg and possessed a forceful personality required the combination of civil and military power in his office, while in western Siberia Tobolsk and Omsk were too far apart to make such a combination realistic for the time being.

When Real State Councillor class four, the equivalent of a major general Dmitrii Volkov was sent to Orenburg in -- his appointment was also a form of banishment -- he protested that he was not the right person for the job. Nepliuev, he wrote, would not have been so successful if he had not been a commanding general glavnyi komandir as well.

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A divided command caused misunderstandings and resulted in needless correspondence. Reinsdorp complained about the sparsity of population, the lack of industry, and the low level of commercial exchanges.


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  • His first crisis came in , when most of the Kalmyks, corralled between the Volga and the Ural river, crossed into the Kazakh steppe and escaped to Mongolia. Russians and Cossacks were caught by surprise and could not catch up with them. The Ural Cossacks, who had been placed under the jurisdiction of the Orenburg governor in , had long been driven by internal dissensions which reached a climax that year. Rank-and-file Cossacks killed Major General von Trauenberg, who was sent by Reinsdorp to investigate the disorders, as well as their own ataman.

    The governor put down the rebellion in a brutal manner, but the following year a greater threat appeared in the form of the Pugachev rebellion, which rallied Cossacks, Old Believers, Polish confederates banished there in the s, and Bashkirs. In retaliation, Reinsdorp contemplated the mass deportation of the Bashkirs, but the central government was not willing to go that far. He answered to the Astrakhan governor, his equal in the hierarchy, Major General Nikita Beketov The founding of Mozdok in was another stage in the building of the so-called Caucasian Line, completed in By the s, the empire had built a nearly uninterrupted perimeter linking the Crimea with the Altai.

    However, the rank of all these officers and Astrakhan governors shows that the Caucasus remained of secondary importance. Throughout this period, from the s to the s, the action took place in Bashkiria and in the Kazakh steppe, where lieutenant generals, members of the ruling elite as I understand it, 49 were becoming by the s the true empire builders. Erekle needed Russian support to consolidate his rule against his fractious nobility and to recreate a Greater Georgia. These khanates were ruled by khans who were also tribal leaders and whose first loyalty was to their tribes and not to Persia, which itself was so internally weakened that it did not even have its own shah.

    The politics of that tribal elite was the politics of plunder, unchecked by any higher power.

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    Eighteen of the 48 were in Kazan province divided into six provintsii, including that of the provincial capital Kazan, Viatka, Perm, Sviiazhsk, Simbirsk, and Penza and another 14 were in Irkutsk province. The Kazan-Orenburg region contained 24 uezdy and Siberia The other three were in Astrakhan province. In Orenburg alone, they were still a minority of The largest group of nomads, not included in the 6. Altogether, this population of 6. The result was the near abolition of the distinction between core and periphery and the creation, from an administrative point of view, of a unitary state.

    Not only was the number of provinces and uezdy considerably increased at each level, but the size of the administrative staff nearly trebled, in one of the most massive redistribution of the spoils in Russian administrative history. The number of provinces rose from five to eleven and the number of uezdy from 48 to Kazan province was divided into five new provinces including Kazan Viatka, Perm, Simbirsk and Penza with 68 uezdy, where there had been only Astrakhan province disappeared to become Saratov province and the province of Caucasus, the latter divided into two oblasti -- a new name for the old provintsiia which, however, was abolished almost everywhere else -- Caucasus, with its capital in Ekaterinograd, and Astrakhan.

    The number of uezdy rose from three to nineteen. Orenburg province was divided into thirteen uezdy instead of six, and two oblasti in Ufa and Orenburg. In Siberia, the changes were less significant. Each province remained headed by a governor, usually in the rank of major general, but the provincial chancery, under the name of provincial board, was now only one of four agencies, with a treasury, a civil and a criminal court, duplicated at the uezd level in the form of a land court, a uezd court civil and criminal , and a treasury.


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    But two or more provinces were now combined under a governor general, who was either a lieutenant general or a full general, directly responsible to the empress, the procurator general as the head of the civil administration, and the president of the College of War. Of course, both were subordinated to the governor general of Simbirsk and Ufa, Lt.

    Otto Osip von Igelstrom , who originally resided in Simbirsk. The fortified lines in Orenburg province had been an extension of the Simbirsk Line, and Simbirsk was the crossing point for travellers to and from Bashkiria. In Siberia, Tobolsk province was linked with the new Perm province under a governor general. Evgenii Kashkin and Alexei Volkov Perm on the Kama, near the confluence of the Chusovaia, which crossed the entire chain, was better situated than Ekaterinburg which had always faced east, toward Siberia. The major figure there was Lt. Gustav von Strandmann , 58 a Baltic nobleman like Igelstrom, both proponents of a forward policy, one against the Kazakhs, the other against the Chinese in Mongolia, only waiting to be coordinated with that of their colleague in Irkutsk, Lt.

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    In other words, the administrative integration of the frontier under three military commands along a west-east axis was paving the way for a resumption of the Russian advance toward the south, into the Kazakh steppe and toward the Lake Zaisan depression, in the direction of Central Asia and eastern Turkestan the future Sinkiang. Ivan Piel It was no coincidence that Jakobi was recalled on suspicion -- not entirely unjustified -- that he was planning to wage a war on China, and that Piel sent an expedition to Japan to negotiate the opening of the country to Russian trade and warships.

    The creation of Saratov province in finally ended the old marginalization of the city as the northern outpost of distant Astrakhan. Five years later, a Caucasian province incorporated the eastern steppe of the northern Caucasus and the lower Volga depression below Tsaritsyn. The Caucasus thus represented an exception to the pattern of a west-east administrative-military frontier.

    Especially under Gudovich, it formed the end of a corridor of expansion along a north-south axis running from Moscow straight to the Caucasus. Governors general were replaced by military governors with jurisdiction over a single province. Gudovich became military governor of a larger Astrakhan province , and was succeeded by Lt.

    Karl von Knorring. It was inevitable that such a vast and complex region of interconnected parts would require the recreation of a regional authority. In , Lt. Pavel Tsitsianov was appointed Chief Administrator glavnoupravliaiushchii in Georgia, military governor in Georgievsk and Astrakhan, and commanding general of regular and irregular troops on the line and in Georgia. Beginning in , these troops constituted the Georgian Corps, renamed Caucasian Corps in Alexei Ermolov, whose controversial tenure nevertheless strengthened Russian rule in the Caucasus.

    The administration of Siberia, however, continued to preoccupy the imperial government, which hesitated between three options.