Alexander I’s Governor-General Experiment in the Volga Region: A.N. Bakhmetev’s Experience
The early decades of the nineteenth century were a period of “proactive” improvement and “balance of the imperial situation,”1 both in the content of administrative projects and in their implementation in practices of territorial administration in the Russian Empire. However, Alexander I’s attempt at reforming local administration in 1816–25 remains understudied. The emperor, known for his cautiousness and indecision, endorsed the ideas of Aleksandr Dmitrievich Balashov2 and Viktor Pavlovich Kochubei,3 who called for introduction of viceroyalties (namestnichestvo) as administrative units in the empire. It is still unknown whether Nikolai Nikolaevich Novosil’cev or A.D. Balashov was the true author of the project,4, but without the political will of the monarch, implementation would have been impossible. The empire was to be structured in accordance with a document titled “The List of Governorates and Their Distribution across Viceregal Regions” (Spisok gubernii s raspredeleniem po namestnicheskim okrugam). Amended in 1823–24, it was included in the Book of Civil Statutes (Kniga shtatov po grazhdanskoi chasti)5 and preserved in the archives of the secret “Committee on December 6, 1826.” At the end of the nineteenth century, this list of governor-generalships—as found in the committee papers—was published in the Sbornik Rossiiskogo Imperatorskogo Obshchestva, with further amendments simply ignored.6 This version of the text is most referenced by scholars.