Vitebsk Governorate (Витебская губерния, Vitebskaya guberniya) was an administrative unit (guberniya) of the Russian Empire, with the seat of governorship in Vitebsk. It was established in 1802 by splitting the Byelorussia Governorate and existed until 1924. Today most of the area belongs to Belarus, the northwestern part to Latvia and the northeastern part to Pskov and Smolensk Oblasts of Russia.
In 1772, as a result of the First Partition of Poland, Inflanty Voivodeship and eastern Belarus were transferred to Russia. In order to accommodate these areas, Pskov Governorate was created. It was proven too big to be manageable, and in 1776 it was split into Pskov and Polotsk Governorates. In 1778 Polotsk Governorate was transformed into Polotsk Viceroyalty. In 1793, the Second Partition of Poland followed, which resulted in the expansion of Polotsk Viceroyalty. In 1796, viceroyalties were abolished. In particular, Polotsk and Mogilev Viceroyalties were merged into Byelorussia Governorate. On February 27, 1802 Byelorussia Governorate was split into Vitebsk and Mogilev Governorates.
The governorate consisted of 12 uyezds (the administrative centers, which all had the town status, are given in parentheses),
- Dinaburgsky Uyezd, from 1893 Dvinsky Uyezd (Dinaburg, currently Daugavpils, now in Latvia);
- Drissensky Uyezd (Drissa, now Verkhnyadzvinsk, Belarus);
- Gorodoksky Uyezd (Haradok, Belarus);
- Lepelsky Uyezd (Lepiel, Belarus);
- Lyutsinsky Uyezd (Ludza, Latvia);
- Nevelsky Uyezd (Nevel, Russia);
- Polotsky Uyezd (Polotsk, Belarus);
- Rezhitsky Uyezd (Rēzekne, Latvia);
- Sebezhsky Uyezd (Sebezh, Russia);
- Surazhsky Uyezd (Surazh, split between Russia and Belarus);
- Velizhsky Uyezd (Velizh, Russia);
- Vitebsky Uyezd (Vitebsk, Belarus).
In 1866, Surazhsky Uyezd was abolished and split between Gorodoksky, Velizhsky, and Vitebsky Uyezd.
On 31 December 1917, Dvinsky, Lyutsinsky and Rezhitsky Uyezds, populated mostly by Latvians and known in Latvian as Latgale, were transferred to Governorate of Livonia, becoming a part of the Latvian Soviet autonomy of Iskolat. Following the Latvian War of Independence, in 1920 the area became a part of the Republic of Latvia under the Latvian–Soviet Peace Treaty. After 1919, the rest of Vitebsk Governorate was a part of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
In 1924, Vitebsk Governorate was abolished. Most of it was transferred to Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, which at the time had districts as the first-level administrative division. Three uyezds, Sebezhsky, Nevelsky, and Velizhsky, were transferred to Pskov Governorate.
The administration of the governorate was performed by a governor. The governors of Vitebsk Governorate were
- 1802–1808 Sergey Aleksandrovich Shishkin, governor;
- 1808-1812 Pavel Ivanovich Sumarokov, governor;
- 1812-1813 Ivan Frantsevich Leshern, governor;
- 1813 Ivan Leontyevich Sushko, governor, died before his inauguration;
- 1813-1818 Pyotr Petrovich Tormasov, governor;
- 1818-1823 Alexey Petrovich Butovich, governor;
- 1823-1829 Akinfy Ivanovich Sorokunsky, governor;
- 1829-1830 Alexey Nikitovich Peshchurov, governor;
- 1830-1831 Nikolay Mikhaylovich Gamaleya, governor;
- 1831-1836 Nikolay Ivanovich Shryoder (Schroeder), governor;
- 1836-1838 Ivan Stepanovich Zhirkevich, governor;
- 1839-1840 Pyotr Petrovich Lvov, governor;
- 1840-1846 Niktopolion Mikhaylovich Klementyev, governor;
- 1846-1847 Mikhail Mikhaylovich Tatarinov, governor;
- 1847-1848 Afanasy Alexandrovich Radishchev, governor;
- 1848-1849 Yury Alexeyevich Dolgorukov, governor;
- 1849-1853 Sergey Nikolayevich Yermolov, governor;
- 1853-1856 Yegor Sergeyevich Tilicheyev, governor;
- 1856-1858 Grigory Dmitriyevich Kolokoltsov, governor;
- 1858-1861 Pavel Nikolayevich Kluchin, governor;
- 1861-1863 Alexander Stepanovich Ogolin, governor;
- 1863-1867 Vladimir Nikolayevich Veryovkin, governor;
- 1867-1868 Pavel Pavlovich Kosagovsky, governor;
- 1868-1869 Vladimir Nikolayevich Tokarev, governor;
- 1869-1880 Pavel Yakovlevich Rostovtsev, governor;
- 1880-1884 Viktor Vilgelmovich fon Val (von Wal), governor;
- 1884-1894 Vasily Mikhaylovich Dolgorukov, governor;
- 1894-1899 Vladimir Alexeyevich Levashov, governor;
- 1899-1904 Ivan Ilyich Chepelevsky, governor;
- 1904-1911 Berngard Berngardovich Gershau-Flotov, governor;
- 1911-1915 Mikhail Viktorovich Artsimovich, governor;
- 1915-1916 Nikolay Pavlovich Galakhov, governor;
- 1916-1917 Boris Nikolayevich Khitrovo, governor.
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