Vladimir Kokovtsov

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Vladimir Kokovtsov
Владимир Коковцов
Kokovtsov c. 1910 – c. 1915
4th Prime Minister of Russia
In office
18 September 1911 – 30 January 1914
MonarchNicholas II
Preceded byPyotr Stolypin
Succeeded byIvan Goremykin
Finance Minister of Russia
In office
26 April 1906 – 30 January 1914
Prime MinisterIvan Goremykin
Pyotr Stolypin
Preceded byIvan Shipov
Succeeded byPyotr Bark
In office
5 February 1904 – 24 October 1905
Prime MinisterSergei Witte
Preceded byEduard Pleske
Succeeded byIvan Shipov
Personal details
Vladimir Nikolayevich Kokovtsov

18 April [O.S. 6 April] 1853
Borovichi, Borovichsky Uyezd, Russian Empire
Died29 January 1943(1943-01-29) (aged 89)
Paris, France
Alma materImperial Alexander Lyceum

Count Vladimir Nikolayevich Kokovtsov (Russian: Влади́мир Никола́евич Коко́вцов; 18 April [O.S. 6 April] 1853 – 29 January 1943) was a Russian politician who served as the fourth prime minister of Russia from 1911 to 1914, during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Borovichi, Borovichsky Uyezd, in the Novgorod Governorate on 18 April [O.S. 6 April] 1853.

Following graduation from the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in December 1872 Kokovtsov applied for admittance to Saint Petersburg State University to study law on the recommendation of Aleksandr Gradovsky, Nikolai Tagantsev and S. Pakhman, all notable legal authorities of the time. However, his father, who had promised to pay for his education suddenly died leaving the family in strained financial circumstances. As a result, instead of attending university he entered the civil service to provide him and his family an additional income.

Civil service[edit]

Kokovtsov was admitted as a candidate for a civil service position in the Imperial Ministry of Justice serving first in the statistical, then the legislative and finally in the criminal office. From 1879 to 1890 he served as Senior Inspector and Assistant Head of the Central Administration of Prisons. This period is noted for its prison reforms formulated by State Secretary K.K. Grot, a senior member of the Imperial State Council. From 1890 to 1896, he served in the State Council as Assistant State Secretary, State Secretary and finally as Assistant Imperial Secretary where he worked primarily on matters reviewed by the Russian Imperial State Council's Department of State Economy.

From 1896 to 1902 he served in one of the three Assistant Minister of Finance positions under Sergei Witte.

After resigning from the position, he served as Imperial Secretary until his appointment as Minister of Finance in 1904.[1]

He resigned the next year when his former superior in the Finance Ministry, Witte, assumed the Chairmanship of the Council of Ministers. Although not a minister, he then played a substantial role in securing a loan that did nothing less than keep the imperial government from having to devalue its currency and leave the gold standard, then the basis of almost all financially stable, secure and modern countries. Kokovtsov returned as Minister of Finance in the cabinets of Ivan Goremykin (1906) and Peter Stolypin (1906–11). Kokovstov was an anti-Semite who believed the problem with Jews was not their 'backwardness' but the fact that they were 'so clever'.[2]

Kokovtsov succeeded Stolypin as Chairman of the Council of Ministers after Stolypin's assassination in 1911,[3] while also maintaining his post as Minister of Finance, and held both offices until his retirement in 1914. Kokovtsov opposed to the appointment of Alexei Khvostov.[4][5]

In 1912 Kokovtsov asked the tsar to authorize Grigori Rasputin's exile to Tobolsk. Nicholas refused: "I know Rasputin too well to believe all the tittle-tattle about him."[6] Kokovtsov had offered Rasputin a substantial amount of money to leave for Siberia and ordered the newspapers not to mention his name in connection with the Empress. The tsar dismissed Kokovtsov on 29 January 1914 for a "lack of control over the press".

In domestic policy, Kokovtsov's time as prime minister saw the passage of two laws in 1912 that provided accident and sickness insurance to about 20% of workers.[5]

Retirement and later life[edit]

Upon retiring, Kokovstov was invested with the title and rank of count. After the February Revolution, he moved to Kislovodsk. After the October Revolution of 1917, he was investigated by the Cheka but escaped with his family to Finland and eventually settled in Paris. He was a leading figure in Russian émigré society until his death on 29 January 1943. In 1933, he published his memoirs, which describe his childhood and education as well as his early years in government service from 1903 to 1919.

Relationship with Sergei Witte[edit]

Witte states in his autobiography that while Kokovtsov was serving as one of his assistants, he was left alone to do the business he knew so well and that Kokovtsov was the source of several small but meaningful reforms in the finances of the Russian Empire.

Much was made of Kokovtsov's differences with Witte which resulted in the two refusing to work with one another after 1905–06. The apparent cause of these differences were conflicts over courses of action in the preparation for peace talks with Japan, following the Russo-Japanese War; the changing of the government structure in the wake of widespread political unrest; Witte's opposition to several of Kokovtsov's policies as Minister of Finance during the Russo-Japanese War, and in an important loan negotiation that occurred in 1905–06. The differences were made public in the Council of State when one or the other would make comments in opposition to the other's viewpoint on various issues.

He was awarded Order of the White Eagle, Order of Prince Danilo I.[7] and the Grandcross of Royal Swedish Order of the Pole Star (1897).


  1. ^ "Kokovsoff Gives Details. Assassin Suddenly Forced His Way in Front of Prince". The New York Times. 27 October 1909. Retrieved 20 November 2008. Brief dispatches received from Minister of Finance Kokovsoff at Harbin add little to the news dispatches concerning the murder of Prince Ito. The Minister points out that no blame is to be attached to the railroad police, who had been specially requested to admit all Japanese to the station.
  2. ^ Slezkine, Yuri (2006). The Jewish Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP. p. 158. ISBN 0-691-12760-3.
  3. ^ "M. Kokovsoff Takes Vacancy Made by Stolypin's Assassination". The New York Times. 23 September 1911. Retrieved 20 November 2008. Kokovsoff, the Russian Minister of Finance, has definitely assumed the Premiership made vacant by the death of Stolypin.
  4. ^ Fuhrmann, J. T. (2013). Rasputin: The Untold Story. p. 128. ISBN 9781118239858.
  5. ^ a b Thane, Pat (1996). Foundations of the Welfare State (2nd ed.).
  6. ^ M. Rasputin (1934) My father, p. 70.
  7. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 631.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Russia
18 September 1911 – 30 January 1914
Succeeded by
Preceded by Finance Minister
Succeeded by
Preceded by Finance Minister
Succeeded by